As widely reported, the NI Executive is firmly committed to exams and other formal assessments, including Vocational Qualifications, going ahead in the academic year 2021 to 2022. However, considering the potential increased disruption to teaching and learning as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, OCN NI feels it is appropriate to provide an update to its centres in relation to the proposed assessment arrangements for 2022.
OCN NI continues to work with regulators, government departments and other sector bodies on potential contingency arrangements for 2022. These measures would be implemented in the event that exams and/or assessments are unable to take place due to the disruption difficulties caused by Covid-19. OCN NI’s main priority is to ensure that learners continue to receive fair and robust results over the coming months that reflect their efforts and enable them to progress to the next stage of their lives.
Vocational Qualification Adaptions
OCN NI will continue supporting its centres to deliver qualifications and assessments in line with the updated Vocational and Technical Qualifications Contingency Regulatory Framework (the VCR Conditions) as agreed by Ofqual, CCEA Regulation and Qualifications Wales.
All exams and assessments should go ahead, in line with published health and safety guidance. Where standard assessments cannot be delivered due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, we have put in place general and qualification specific adaptations that can assist centres in delivering assessments safely and rigorously. It may however be necessary and appropriate for adaptations to be made to assessments to free up time to focus on catching up and teaching the remaining qualification content.
To access qualification specific guidance documents please click here: Centre Covid-19 Updates | OCN NI
Essential Skills Qualifications
For guidance relating to external assessments for NI Essential Skills qualifications, OCN NI would ask centres to review OCN NI guidance for Essential Skills (NI) Delivery and Assessment 2021/2022, which is also available on the OCN NI website Centre Covid-19 Updates | OCN NI
CCEA Regulation has adopted the Ofqual Vocational & Technical Qualifications Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCR) for the assessment and award of vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) in Northern Ireland during 2021-2022. Ofqual has published guidance to centres for awarding VTQs in 2021/22.
It is possible that further disruption may occur over the course of 2022. Even if some public health restrictions are necessary over the next academic year, it should still be possible for learners to take exams and formal assessments safely. However, if the government decides that exams and formal assessments cannot take place, then as in 2021, it is possible that VTQs and other general qualifications may be awarded using Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs).
The evidence for TAGs is likely to come from the assessments your learners have already taken during the year or other work. Many VTQs are unitised and designed so that assessments can take place throughout the year.
For Essential Skills, if the decision is made by the DfE that it is no longer viable for exams and assessments to go ahead, it is their expectation that learners who are not able to safely access assessments in centres, or remotely, would be eligible for a Centre Determined Grade.
For occupational and competence-based qualifications, if exams and assessments cannot take place safely even with prudent adaptations, then they may need to be delayed.
OCN NI’s Compliance and Audit team will be hosting a Support Clinic on Friday 14th January from 9.30 am to 1 pm to answer your queries and provide any additional support you may require. Please call our OCN NI office number on 02890 463 990 and ask to be directed to the Compliance and Audit Team Support Clinic. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time with your query.
OCN NI will continue to monitor the situation and guidance provided by the Regulators and Local Government Departments. We will ensure our centres are informed of any changes and the impact on OCN NI learners as soon as possible. Our priority is to ensure that learners continue to receive fair and robust results over the coming months that reflect their efforts and allow for due consideration of progression pathways, whether that be to further study or employment.
Hopefully, you will find this communication useful and timely, but as always, if you have specific areas of concern, please do not hesitate to contact us. Working in mutual partnership with our centres and providers has always been a core aim of OCN NI, now more than ever, so please let us know if there is anything more we can do to help and support you.