Cancellation of Essential Skills and Vocational Examinations


On 22 January 2021, the Economy Minister announced the cancellation of Essential Skills and vocational examinations until August 2021. You can view the full announcement hereMinister Diane Dodds announces cancellation of vocational and Essential Skills exams.

As a consequence, OCN NI will work with CCEA Regulation as a matter of urgency to put in place suitable alternative awarding arrangements that are reflective of this years particular circumstances. However, please be aware that it is unlikely we will be in position to issue definitive guidance to our centres until Ofquals current consultation on awarding arrangements is concluded and all regulators have agreed a common approach.

It is anticipated that Awarding Organisations will be in position to confirm their alternative assessment arrangements with centres in March 2021.  For Essential Skills qualifications, clarity on the alternative arrangements will be available by the end of February 2021. There will be a short transition period where Essential Skills on-demand exams will still be available up to the end of February 2021, where they can be taken safely in line with PHA guidance, until the new arrangements are in place.

We are acutely aware that this is an extremely frustrating and difficult period for all learners and their parents and carers and teachers. OCN NI is committed to working with you and following the consultation, will make sure that the fairest possible arrangements are rapidly put in place so that learners can be awarded OCN NI qualifications this academic year. Our priority is to ensure that learners receive fair and equitable results that reflect their efforts and allow for due consideration of progression pathways, whether that be to further study or into employment.  For the vast majority of OCN NI Qualifications internal assessment occurs throughout the year, and we have already published guidance on our alternative assessment arrangements – click here. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding during these challenging times and remember that the OCN NI team are here to support you, and answer any questions or concerns relating to the delivery and assessment of our qualifications.