Awarding vocational and technical qualifications in 2021

This article applies to BTEC, OCR Cambridge Technicals, Pre-U, Core Maths, IB, professional and technical qualifications (for GCSE, A or AS levels see our article: Awarding academic grades in 2021 without examinations)


In brief

The Government has confirmed that teacher judgements will play a crucial role in awarding results for students of vocational and technical qualifications this year. In some cases, assessments may still go ahead, either remotely or in person where it is safe. Assessments evaluating professional competence must take place, but may be subject to delays due to public health and safety. Students will be kept updated.


An online interactive tool will be released on the government website during March so students can check which approach is being used for each qualification.


The aim is that students will be awarded a grade to reflect what they know so they can move on to the next stage of their life.


Awarding Technical and Vocational Qualifications in 2021

In summary


Applied generals – including BTEC, OCR Cambridge Technicals, Pre U, core maths

Teacher assessment based on the work completed, such as tasks performed and course work.


International Baccalaureate

Cancelled in the UK. Awaiting announcement due mid-March about how they will be awarded.


Functional skills

Teacher assessed grades will be awarded if assessments cannot be taken due to public health measures.


Professional or occupational qualifications

Assessments must be taken, although this may be conducted in a different way to normal (such as remotely or using social distancing) so there may be delays. Awarding organisations will advise colleges or training providers of when grades can be awarded based on when assessments can take place.


Teenage girl on laptop taking vocational qualifications
Awarding technical and vocational qualifications in 2021

How will teachers assess grades?

Teachers will take into account course work, tests, mock exams, homework, in class and online learning. Students will be told which parts of their work count towards their grade.



What does this mean for my child?

It means they should stay focused and continue to study! In the case of teacher assessment, everything they are doing will count towards their final grades – so what they achieve matters.



How is this fair when my child’s missed so much?

If students have not completed the entire course because parts of the syllabus have not been covered due to school or work closures, they will not be penalized for this.


Teacher assessment will be based only on what’s been taught and the grades awarded will reflect the level of achievement within these parameters.



Results

Vocational qualifications linked to moving on to further/higher education will be awarded on or before 12 August. Vocational qualifications assessing professional competence will need to be completed and may be subject to delays this year to comply with public health and safety measures. Students will be kept up to date.



How does this impact their future?

Where students have been awarded a qualification, they will be able to progress to the next stage, unless they have missed so much learning that it would be unfair, in which case they may need to re-sit their qualification. Where moving on to the next level requires confirmation of professional competence, they must wait until they are able to take the appropriate assessments.


Teenage boy taking BTECS: The Parents' Guide to

How does this impact them getting a job or an apprenticeship?

The process will work the same as in other years. Students can discuss their unique situation with the company offering the job or apprenticeship.



At GCSE level, how does this impact their taking sixth form studies?

If your child has not been awarded grades that meet the entry requirements for them going to college/sixth form/taking an apprenticeship, they should speak to the institution as soon as they can. There is every possibility that they will try to be flexible and admit your child or, if they can’t, they’ll be able to discuss other alternatives.



At sixth form level, how does this impact them progressing further?

If your child has not been awarded grades that meet the requirements to progress to the next stage of their life (whether that’s, university, work or further education) they should speak to the institution as soon as they can. There is every possibility that they will try to be flexible and admit your child or, if they can’t, they’ll be able to discuss other alternatives.



University applications

Students with conditional offers that don’t achieve the required grades can still apply through Clearing as usual. Universities UK provided reassurance, saying: “University admissions teams will pull out all the stops to make sure that this year's applicants get the opportunity to fulfil their potential at university”.


A level Results Day flow chart: The Parents' Guide to
A level Results Day flow chart

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