DfE and Ofqual exchange letters on exam arrangements for 2021 - AoC responds

13 Jan 2021

Responding to the letter exchange between Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson and Ofqual's Chief Regulator, Simon Lebus setting out arrangements for exams in 2021, Association of Colleges Chief Executive, David Hughes said:

“This exchange of letters is a positive step forward in reaching considered decisions quickly so that students and colleges are clear about education, training and assessment over the next 6 months. It is good to see plans for vocational and technical qualifications alongside those for A Levels and GCSEs within an overall approach which values all students equally. 
 
The decision to cancel written exams in February and March is a good one, but so is the priority given to ensuring that assessments can go ahead when safe for students taking competency-based assessment including apprenticeships. 
 
The letters helpfully highlight the challenge of completing college-based programmes in areas key to economic recovery such as construction and where students need to to practise their skills before taking assessment. Those students will need to return to college at the earliest opportunity, once it is safe to do so, to complete their training and be ready for the assessment which unlocks job opportunities. 
 
The biggest challenge the education system faces in all of this is how to take into account the differential lost learning that students have suffered. There are no simple solutions, but we must continue to focus on that as government progresses with these plans for assessment. Many students will need catch up provision and support, colleges and universities will need to flexibly take lost learning into account in their entry decisions and extra resources will be needed for those who have missed too much hands-on training to be competent in their chosen profession. We look forward to working with DfE and Ofqual following the publication of the consultation later this week.” 

You can read both letters here