Coronavirus: Vocational students 'may get predicted grades'

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

Welder at work

Students taking many vocational qualifications are likely to get results based on predicted grades this summer.

The exams regulator, Ofqual, provided updated guidance on VTQ results over Easter.

However, the Department for the Economy (DfE) will have to decide if the Qfqual arrangements will also apply in NI.

There are a wide range of vocational, technical and professional qualifications.

They are taken by tens of thousands of students at schools and Further Education (FE) colleges in Northern Ireland.

Many take VTQs through English training and awarding bodies.

'Range of evidence'

For instance, BTECs are one of the qualifications in which students will receive a "calculated result," according to Ofqual.

That result will be based on how a tutor or teacher predicts a student would have performed in the completed course as well as any existing assessments.

"They may be based, in part, on teacher, trainer or tutor judgements of what result each learner would most likely have achieved had they been able to complete their assessments in summer 2020," the Ofqual guidance said.

"Any centre assessment result will be based on a range of evidence held by the school, college or training provider.

"We want this process to be completed in a timely way so that learners can progress and the aim is for them to receive results at the same time as GCSEs, AS and A-level results."

However, Ofqual also said that exams in some qualifications which lead directly to jobs would have to be altered or delayed.

"In some cases where qualifications directly signal occupational competence or function as a licence to practice," they said, "there may be no option but to wait until normal assessments can happen again".

Image source, PAcemaker
Image caption,
Economy Minister Diane Dodds has said exams or assessments for vocational and technical qualifications would not take place in NI this summer

Ofqual said it would publish exact details of the qualifications which would be awarded by "calculated results" - and those which would have to be delayed - after Easter.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds had previously said that exams or assessments for vocational and technical qualifications would not take place in Northern Ireland this summer.

In a statement to BBC News NI, DfE said it was aware of the Qfqual position.

"Clearly many of the qualifications available in England and Wales are also available in Northern Ireland," DfE said.

"This is a key factor under consideration.

"The department is urgently working with partners, including the regulator and learning centres, to provide clarity on the way forward across vocational qualifications and assessment and we expect to make an announcement in the near future."

GCSE, AS and A-Level exams due to take place in May and June had previously been cancelled.

However, the Department of Education has not yet announced how results will be awarded in Northern Ireland.