Update 09: Further update on Vocational & Technical Qualifications


We understand the challenges and disruption that training providers are facing during these very difficult and challenging times and we are doing all we can to minimise the impact and put in place measures to help support you. As you are acutely aware, this is a constantly evolving situation and we will continue to adapt our approach as new governmental, health authority and regulatory guidance comes to light.  We will do our level best to keep you informed every step of the way.
Yesterday The Education Secretary in England issued to Ofqual (9 April 2020), some clear direction on how the government expects vocational and technical qualifications to be assessed and awarded in the coming weeks and months. This letter was also copied to Peter Weir MLA, Education Minister in Northern Ireland. The directive states that:
We recognise students taking qualifications, alongside or instead of GCSEs, AS and A levels, to progress to further or higher education urgently need to know what arrangements will be put in place for them. We have worked closely with the Department for Education, awarding organisations and regulators in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to develop our approach and are today confirming that these qualifications will be awarded a calculated result.’ You can read more detail on this here.
Calculated results could be based in part on tutor, teacher or trainer judgements of a learner’s ability, where appropriate, in combination with a range of other evidence. A number of learners will already have completed assessments in some units and, where that evidence usually counts towards a result, it could be taken into account.  In addition, OCN NI will consider and apply statistical information previously gathered that may form part of the adopted approach. However, Ofqual has reiterated that this approach will not be “appropriate” for all vocational qualifications.
As CCEA Regulation regulates vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland, we need to wait on their direction as to how vocational qualifications will be awarded this summer.  CCEA Regulation are working closely with the Department for the Economy (DfE), the Department of Education (DE) and Awarding Organisations to agree options that are fair to all learners. You can view CCEA Regulation’s response to Ofqual’s announcement on the vocational and technical qualifications here.
OCN NI will continue to work closely with CCEA Regulation, Ofqual and other Awarding Organisations to put plans in place for each of our qualifications.  As soon as the direction from the Qualifications Regulators is finalised, we’ll communicate with you directly after the Easter holidays.  Remember that the team at OCN NI are here to support you, and answer any questions or concerns relating to the delivery of our qualifications.
Thank you for your patience and understanding during these extraordinary and unprecedented times.
Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Easter.

Martin Flynn
Chief Executive Officer