Results Day 2020 - How will vocational / technical results be awarded without usual assessment?

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Since the Government announced that there would be no examinations in 2020, some 2.2 million teenagers have been wondering what this means for their futures. How will they be assessed if no examinations are taking place? What impact will this have on offers they could have hoped to receive under the usual system (whether for jobs, further education or apprenticeships)?

Teenage boy celebrating good a level results on results day 2020, excited
How will vocational results be awarded in 2020?

Sixth Form results day is 13 August 2020 and GCSE results day is 20 August 2020, unchanged even though there are no examinations. The government released guidance in April on how academic qualification will be assessed – which we summarised here. This month they’ve released guidance on how results for vocational and technical qualifications will be awarded. However, the nature of vocational and technical qualifications means that, in some cases, it will not be possible to issue results in August – we’ll explain why.

Read on to find out more, but note that apprenticeship end-point assessments are handled separately and not covered in this summary.

Vocational/technical qualifications

This summary covers assessments that would have been awarded by students at sixteen (end of Year 11) or eighteen (end of Year 13). Students who would usually have received a grade during the first year of a course (i.e. those aged fifteen or seventeen) may receive a mid-course assessment this year, or in some cases the grade will be awarded at the end of the second year when more information is available.

Categories for vocational qualifications

There are three categories for vocational qualifications and whether or not a grade is awarded depends on the type of qualification:

1. qualifications used to enable students to move on to further or higher education – in most cases a calculated result will be issued;

2. qualifications serving a mixed purpose, supporting progression to further or higher education, or to employment – in these cases the primary purpose of the qualification will determine whether or not a calculated result is issued;

3. qualifications signalling occupational competence (i.e. the ability to do a job) – students will not receive a calculated result unless the assessment can be adapted to adequately confirm the appropriate level of competence has been achieved.

Considerations in awarding results

Results will be awarded considering the following:

1. Awarding organisations should provide calculated results where, as far as possible, they can ensure these results are valid and reliable;

2. Where this is not possible, assessment methods should be adapted so students can sit assessments and complete qualifications;

3. If qualifications directly indicate professional competence and it would be unsafe to issue a qualification without the regular assessment, it may be necessary to wait until the next available assessment opportunity.

Group of teenage girls studying BTEC vocation qualification writing on flipchart paper

Why the approach may be different depending on the course

Awarding organisations may use different approaches to assess and award grades, even when qualifications are similar. This will be influenced by the outcome of the qualification (does it serve as an indicator of suitability for further learning or as a competence to practise in real life) and the order and style of learning.

Courses which teach and assess practical elements early on may have been covered the necessary competency checks prior to Covid-19 lockdown, but other similar courses may offer learning in a different order with practical learning near the end of the assessment period and therefore no practical competency has been covered.

Likewise, some courses offer regular assessment and interaction between student and tutor and the tutor will know the student well, whereas other course may have limited interaction between tutor and learner, so it would be difficult for the tutor to make a reliable judgement call on the learner’s ability.

Results will not be awarded if a student’s ability to practise in real life cannot be appropriately assessed. Health and safety are integral considerations.

Two teenage boys outside looking at map and studying together

Calculating results

Work conducted after 20 March 2020 will not be considered, except a small number of exceptions where this helps to validate marks awarded per the criteria below. Results will be awarded with consideration for:

1. marks for assessments already completed;

2. marks for assessments completed but not yet verified;

3. centre assessment grade – what the centre believes the student would have achieved if learning / assessment had carried on as normal;

4. trends from historical data – i.e. where performance in one area is an indicator of performance in another area;

5. centre data – i.e. how the assessment centre has performed over time;

6. student’s prior achievements in earlier examinations (i.e. GCSEs).

Specialist vocational qualifications

Your child can check the government’s interactive tool to find out which approach is being used for each qualification – as some may differ from what’s outlined in this paper (such as International Baccalaureate, Pre-U, qualifications designed specifically for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland).

No results issued

In cases where it has not been possible to issue a result, students will be kept up to date on when they can take the necessary assessments which will be arranged as soon as possible.

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