Ofqual’s vocational and technical qualifications (VTQ) Action Plan for Level 3 results in 2023 sets out steps to help students get results on time this August.
Delivering timely results to students relies on a combined effort from everyone in the system: exams officers, teachers, subject staff and senior leaders in schools and colleges, as well as staff in awarding organisations. This joint effort should ensure that all issues are dealt with in term time.
Schools and colleges have now confirmed with awarding organisations which students expect to receive a result this summer. This means awarding organisations have a complete and accurate picture of student entries to track progress against. Ofqual heard many examples where these early checks helped awarding organisations, schools and colleges identify problems; for example, where personnel had recently changed and emails were therefore unmonitored. It proves that these checks are important. It is much better to discover any issues now than in August. We also heard views on how to make these checks more streamlined. Your feedback is important and we are making sure that lessons are learned not only from checkpoint 1 to 2, but with a view to ongoing arrangements.
Ofqual now expects awarding organisations to share details of the information and evidence available so far for each student, so that schools and colleges are able to see what information they still need to provide for students to receive results in the summer. It is also important that awarding organisations know if students change their plans. Please work with awarding organisations to ensure all student records are up to date. If a student chooses not to cash in their units, requires more time for assessments, or changes their mind, they may no longer be eligible for a result this summer. Awarding organisations need to know this, so that they can accurately track progress and know which results are still expected.
This checkpoint does not replace the awarding organisations’ normal moderation or verification processes – it is about information to help identify where the gaps are, to ensure that exams officers know what information teachers need to provide and when. This could include things like outstanding unit marks or samples of students’ work.
We have heard from exams officers and teachers how important it is that this process is undertaken during term-time so that exams officers have access to the students, academic staff and evidence they need to support student results in the summer.
Ofqual has published an information hub for Level 3 VTQs used for progression. This brings together, for the first time, the key dates from awarding organisations into one central location for schools and colleges to view and download. Here you will be able to see each awarding organisation’s dates for moderation or verification and final eligibility checks or claim deadlines.
Occasionally, awarding organisations may need to contact schools and colleges in the holidays. It is important that schools and colleges are prepared to respond to any urgent enquiries outside of term time, to ensure that all eligible students get their results on time. This is why we have asked awarding organisations to ensure that they have on record a senior designated contact in every school or college in case an urgent query needs to be resolved.
We know that the vast majority of schools and colleges will return information on time and when requested to awarding organisations, but there are examples of consistently late responses which jeopardise students receiving their results on time. It is important to note that schools and colleges could face investigations or even sanctions if they do not cooperate with requests for information or miss deadlines. Individual or repeated instances of this could be considered a form of maladministration which could result in awarding organisations issuing warnings, suspensions, withholding student results or even centre approval being withdrawn. Ofqual will shortly be writing to all Heads of Centre to remind them of their responsibilities in this matter. Further information should be available in each awarding organisation’s malpractice policy on its website.
We know that exams officers work extremely hard throughout the year and play a vital part in the successful delivery of exams, formal assessments and results. We have recently updated and republished our resources to support exams officers, with the goal of providing as much guidance and assistance as possible to those in this important role.
Ofqual knows there is more to be done over the next few months but I want to thank you for your engagement with this process so far. Working together to complete these checks during term-time will enable all involved to enjoy the summer holidays knowing that Level 3 VTQ results will be issued in full on or before Thursday 17 August, along with other Level 3 results such as A levels.
Catherine Large OBE
Executive Director, Vocational and Technical Qualifications