We are aware that this is an extremely challenging time for all of our centres. Please bookmark this page to keep track of all Vocational Qualification updates and COVID-19 guidance.


Update – 21st January 2021

Many thanks for your continued patience at this time. We appreciate that there continues to be uncertainty about the awarding of vocational qualifications in 2021.

You may have seen the published letters from the Secretary of State for Education and the reply from Ofqual’s Chief Regulator. These have been followed with the release of a joint consultation from the Department for Education and Ofqual. This closes on the 29th January, and it is likely to be several weeks after this before all the arrangements are confirmed. We would encourage you to participate in the consultation to ensure that government agencies receive as broad a range of views as possible; the details can be found here...

We will send out more detailed guidance once we have it but would like to highlight the following key points for delivery and assessment at the moment:

1. The consultation highlights that internal assessment should continue remotely wherever possible. Our guidance to continue with assessment where it is safe and practicable to do so still stands, even if this means partial completion of assessment.

2. We have noted that some awarding organisations have already cancelled their external assessment. It is, however, important to note that the consultation states that only written exams are cancelled. As our external assessment does not fall under this bracket, we cannot confirm the cancellation of external assessment at this time. There is an indication that written exams may be replaced with additional assessment, and we believe that by continuing with the external assessment which learners may have already been working on for some time, this will provide the best chance of creating valid and auditable evidence.

3. We appreciate that centres are finding some aspects of the external assessment very difficult to administer. Please see a summary of the attached adaptations that were put in place at the start of the external assessment window to reduce the controlled conditions and make remote assessment more manageable. One of the key adaptations was the removal of controlled conditions around the planning and evaluative sections of the external assessment. You will also find an updated How to Guide for 20-21 and additional Tutor Guidance in the zip files where you downloaded the external assessment briefs.

4. We understand that some aspects of the assessments may be impossible to complete as normal, and we expect that there will be students who are unable to complete evidence for a number of learning outcomes. The measures which we will introduce after having received advice from the Department and Ofqual will ensure that learners are not disadvantaged.

Please be assured that we are as keen as you to have a clear way forward and, as we did last academic year, we will communicate with you as soon as we have additional guidance. For now, the message is to continue with assessment wherever possible as a wealth of assessment evidence for learners can only support awarding this year.

Update – 5th January 2021

We hope you are all safe and well at this challenging time. Under the new lockdown conditions put in place from the 5th January and the communication from government that not all exams will be able to go ahead as planned, we feel it is important to keep you updated with our current understanding and likely next steps.

We expect it will take a number of weeks for all awarding bodies and government agencies to understand the best approach to assessment this academic year. RSL Awards took a very active role during the first national lockdown and we will continue to ensure that the nuances of awarding the creative and performing arts are considered at the highest level. Unfortunately, we are unable to give you any more detail on the approach to grading at the moment.

Until further notice we advise that you carry on with teaching, learning and assessment as close to normal as you can under the guidance we released in December, and in line with current government guidance. Whatever next steps are agreed, having a good level of auditable evidence will be highly useful.

For centres who work with Performance Table Qualifications that have external coursework assessment scheduled for January onwards, the latest guidance from the government indicates that ‘Public exams and vocational assessments scheduled to take place in January will go ahead as planned’. However, this does not give clear guidance on practical assessment and assessment that requires extended attendance with access to specialist equipment. We are currently seeking guidance from Ofqual and the Department for Education, aiming to ensure they know the specialist requirements our subject areas demand.

If you can, please complete this very short survey regarding your progress through the qualification. This data will be useful in ensuring government agencies are aware of the impact of both this academic year and the last. Please use the comments box on the survey to respond to this message.

Update – 4th December 2020

As you may have seen yesterday, the DfE announced further adaptations to General Qualifications in 2020/21. Awarding Bodies are now working with the DfE and Ofqual to determine how these further adaptations may be applied to Vocational Qualifications, allowing learners to achieve to their fullest despite the ongoing disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

RSL Awards have developed proposals for DfE approval on how we can further adjust our qualifications to ensure parity with equivalent qualifications. As this announcement is in its early stages, and while we are waiting for DfE to publish their updated performance tables guidance, we are not currently in a position to confirm the specifics of any further adaptations. Once we have received feedback from the relevant organisations, we will communicate this to centres as soon as possible.

Please be assured that we want to minimise any further disruption to an already challenging academic year and any additional adaptations will be designed to minimise burden. We appreciate any changes during an academic year are frustrating and that centres will need to know updated information as soon as it is possible. Until we are able to update you with our proposals, we ask that you continue to deliver the qualifications in accordance with our most recent guidance.

Update – 3rd November 2020

We have today sent an email to approved centres which includes:

  • Update to Application for Proposed Adaptations for Internally Assessed Units
  • Guidance for Internally Assessed Units
  • Assessment Planning for 20/21 - Deadline Thursday 5th November 2020
  • Deadline for Making Learner Registrations - Friday 6th November 2020
  • External Assessment Brief Release
  • CPD Sessions

As there are number of updates, we have collated them all into one document to make it clearer to read. You can download the document below...

RSL VQ Updates – November 2020

Ofqual Consultation – 14th October 2020

We are pleased to tell you that Ofqual have ended their consultation about the Extended Extraordinary Regulatory Framework, details of which can be found here...

This means that we are able to confirm our proposed adaptation for internal units only. Please refer to our ‘RSL VQ Internal Assessment Adaptations 2020-21’ document for specific details of the adaptations allowed.

RSL VQ Internal Assessment Adaptations 2020-21

The DfE have still not confirmed the requirements surrounding performance table qualifications, which means we are unable to confirm whether our proposals for controlled external assessment will be acceptable. We appreciate this is extremely frustrating given how close we are to the release of the Controlled External Assessment Briefs and can assure you we share your frustrations. As soon as we have confirmation from the DfE, we will communicate this to you. For now, please plan as though the usual controlled conditions will be in place.

In addition to the adaptations we have outlined, RSL has also brought in a new process for centres to propose adaptations that fall outside of our guidance, which is only to be used if a centre has no other way of conducting assessment. This will apply for internally assessed units only. You do not need to submit a form to implement any of the adaptations described in the attached ‘RSL 2021 Proposed Adaptations for Delivery and Assessment’ document, this process is just for any additional adaptations that are absolutely necessary for assessment to take place.

Your External Quality Assurer will be able to discuss possible adaptations with you but all adaptations will need to be signed off at Head Office to ensure consistency. In order to propose an adaptation for your centre, please complete the ‘RSL VQ Application for Proposed Adaptations for 2021’ form and return to vocational@rslawards.com. The proposed adaptations will be reviewed by RSL’s Academic Team and a response sent within 10 working days of receipt. To ensure an adaptation can be agreed in a timely manner, please submit your proposals as soon as possible and at least 10 working days prior to starting assessment. Please note that in order to ensure consistency across all centres, we will not be able to discuss adaptation proposals over the phone and all requests will need to be put in writing.

RSL VQ Application for Proposed Adaptations for 2021

RSL VQ Internal Assessment Adaptations 2020-21

Head of Centre Declaration – 23rd June 2020

In our guidance, we identified that centre assessment grades had to be signed off within the centre before submission to RSL and centres must keep a record of the process. Following additional advice from Ofqual, we now require an additional declaration to be submitted, which can be downloaded below.

A new document type has been created in the cloud.rslawards.com site specifically for this document. Please only use the document type ‘Head of Centre Declaration for Centre Assessment Grades.’ If another heading is used, the document may be missed and your centre may risk being delayed certification. Please complete and upload this document by Monday 29th June 2020.

RSL Head of Centre Declaration for Centre Assessment Grades

We are pleased to announce you will be able to input your centre assessment grades to the site at https://cloud.rslawards.com, using your usual logon details as of Monday 1st June 2020. The window for inputting centre assessment grades is 1st June – 12th June 2020.

We have adapted our usual grade input system at cloud.rslawards.com to allow for centre assessment grades and have updated our guidance in a How to Guide. We are hoping that amending our current system will make the process of inputting grades smoother for centres as it is a system you are familiar with.

Inputting Centre Assessment Grades – How To Guide

If you have not already, please ensure you refer to Ofqual guidance about centre assessment grades, particularly their ‘Guidance for Heads of Centre, Heads of Department and teachers on objectivity in grading and ranking’ which can be found here...

We are pleased to share two of four narrated presentations around the recent guidance for VQ certification this year.

This first presentation gives a brief overview of certification, the new terminology being used, timelines for certification, as well as information on the upcoming data collection activity including the submission of Centre Assessment Grades.

This second presentation gives an overview of the quality assurance flowchart, along with a more detailed look at Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the quality assurance process.

Our third presentation offers guidance on RSL’s approach to moderation and the statistical analysis that will take place following the moderation stage.

Please find below the fourth and final narrated presentation guiding centres through the recent guidance for VQ certification this year. This final presentation offers guidance on the RSL Assessment Board and the different actions RSL may take following this board that lead to certification.

Please make sure to share these presentations, and the associated guidance documentation, with any colleagues at your centre who will be involved in the certification process. Please also see the YouTube descriptions to see timings for particular slides.

Update: 21st May 2020

Guidance on Certification

Following our last correspondence to you on the 15th May 2020, we are writing to you to share our detailed guidance regarding certification for this year. We have put together two documents to support you with the process for this year.

The first is ‘VQ Summary of Actions for Certification.’ This is a concise summary of the timelines and the steps that centres will need to take in order to certificate learners this year. This document is designed as an overview.

RSL VQ Summary of Actions for Certification

The second is a technical document, ‘RSL Centre Guide for Certification for the Academic Year 2019-20.’ This is a significantly more detailed document which outlines all the processes that will be followed this academic year.

RSL VQ Centre Guide to Certification for Academic Year 2019-20

There are also a large number of FAQs, which we hope will answer any questions you may have.

Our IT team are continuing to work on the development of our submission system for the input of grades and we will update centres when this is available. We anticipate that this function will be available sooner than 1st June and as soon as our system is ready, we will contact all centres to let them know it is available to input the grades. Please do not input any grades until we ask you to.

We will be creating a series of short videos to support the written documentation, which will summarise each of the stages. We will let centres know when they are available.

If you have a question that cannot be answered by our FAQs, please contact the team via vocational@rslawards.com

External Assessment Feedback

This section of the email is in regards to centres with learners registered to complete externally assessed units this academic year. If this does not apply to you, please disregard this section.

As we confirmed to you previously, centres will need to produce centre assessment grades for units which under ‘normal’ circumstances would be externally assessed. To support centres with generating centre assessment grades for externally assessed units, RSL External Assessors have reviewed the evidence submitted for outcomes which were identified by centres as complete. RSL External Assessors have provided feedback and provisional grades for these learning outcomes, which can be used to support centre assessment grades for the external units. These provisional grades will not be input into the RSL system and feedback sheets will be available for centres to download via the External Assessment section of the site, on the published external assessment results day of 21st May 2020. Please click here to find the previously sent FAQs which include a section on external assessment which will hopefully answer a number of your questions.

To download the feedback sheets, the simplest way will be to download a ZIP file via the ‘External Assessments’ tool.

  • Select ‘External Assessments’ from the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the screen
  • Select the ‘External Assessment Results’ button then follow the onscreen instructions.
  • Alternatively, follow this link (you will need to sign in) and select the ‘External Assessment Results’ button.

While every endeavour has been made to review outcomes marked as complete by centres, there may be some instances where a learner has not been reviewed or an incomplete outcome reviewed where it should not have been. As all feedback is in support of centre assessment grades, RSL assessors will not be reviewing any more learner work and any unseen evidence can be used to support centre assessment grades where you feel it is indicative of the relevant grade for that learner.

Where evidence uploaded was inaccessible, we have not asked centres to reupload evidence as centres would be generating centre assessment grades. It was felt the time taken to reupload the evidence (often large video files) would be unnecessary when centres would be generating the grades themselves. If this applies to your centre, you should have received an email from us about it.

Thank you for your continued patience during this difficult time.

Update: 15th March 2020

Following our correspondence on the 5th May 2020, we would like to provide you with an update on the certification of RSL qualifications this year. On the 14th May 2020, Ofqual published their Guidance for Centres for awarding vocational qualifications which you can find here...

In our communication of the 5th May 2020, we confirmed centres will be asked to produce centre assessment grades for each learning outcome for each unit completed this year, and asked centres to focus on internally assessed units. We can now confirm that this approach will also apply to units which, under ‘normal’ circumstances, would be externally assessed.

To support centres with generating centre assessment grades for externally assessed units, RSL External Assessors have reviewed the evidence submitted for outcomes which were identified by centres as complete. RSL External Assessors have provided feedback and provisional grades for these learning outcomes, which can be used to support centre assessment grades for the external units. These provisional grades will not be input into the RSL system and feedback sheets will be available for centres to download via the External Assessment section of the site, on the published external assessment results day of 21st May 2020.

Centres will need to input their centre assessment grades for the externally assessed units in the same way as for internal units. We will update centres when our systems are ready to accept these grades, which will be by the 1st June 2020 at the latest.

For centres who submitted a sample for EQA before lockdown but have not yet had their report, any sampling reports which have been completed but not yet released will be made available to centres on 21st May 2020.

Since centre closures, RSL have been working diligently to produce a plan and support for centres to ensure as many learners can be certificated this summer as possible. Following the additional guidance released by Ofqual, and the end of their consultation on 8th May 2020, we are currently finalising our guidance for centres to ensure it reflects the most up to date information, provides as much detail and answers as many of your questions as it can. We will be making the guidance available to centres on Thursday 21st May 2020 via email and also on this web page.

We appreciate centres are anxious to read the plans for certification and to support further, we have updated the FAQs we sent on the 5th May 2020, available via the button below. Please ensure you read the document carefully and pass on to any members of staff who may need this information.

The deadline we set out in our email of the 5th May for submitting centre assessment grades between 1st and 12th June 2020 still stands and our IT team are working to ensure our system is able to support the new process of centre assessment grades.

RSL Awards Guidance for VQ Centre Assessment Grades

Please do not hesitate to contact us via vocational@rslawards.com

Update: 5th March 2020

Since the beginning of the lockdown period and the announcement that GCSE and A’ Level examinations would be cancelled for the academic year 2019/20, RSL has been working with Ofqual and other UK regulators to reach a solution which allows learners to progress on to further or higher education or into the workplace with the vocational qualifications and certificates they have worked so hard to achieve.

Paramount in RSL’s approach is that no learner should be disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control, and at every stage during the formulation of our approach this has been at the forefront of our minds.

RSL has now made Ofqual aware of its plan to calculate results and how we will approach the formulation of those grades. We await the conclusion of Ofqual’s consultation on ‘Exceptional Arrangements for Assessment and Grading in 2020’, the deadline for which is May 8th 2020.

In advance of the feedback from the consultation, please read the statement below which outlines our approach and what steps you can begin to take in preparation for submitting data to RSL.

RSL Awards Guidance for VQ Centre Assessment Grades

In the meantime if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us via vocational@rslawards.com