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 – 30th March 2021
Following our email of the 24th March, we are pleased to tell you that our guidance about awarding for this academic year is now available for centres.
Please note that this guidance applies to all learners who are completing units this year, whether ‘mid-flight’ (e.g. in their first year of a two-year qualification) or certificating.
There are three main resources that we would like to draw your attention to:
- RSL VQ Approach to Awarding 20-21 (Technical Document)
- RSL VQ Awarding 2020-21 Quick Guide for Centres
- RSL VQ Internal Quality Assurance Process for Centres 20-21
1) RSL VQ Approach to Awarding 20-21 (Technical Document)
This is the main document which summarises all the processes for the remainder of this academic year. There are extensive FAQs within the document which will hopefully answer any questions you may have. It is vitally important that any centres with learners who are completing units this year (whether ‘mid-flight’ or certificating) read this guidance carefully.
2) RSL VQ Awarding 2020-21 Quick Guide for Centres
This guide highlights some of the key principles, themes, and steps of the process in order to help centre staff orientate themselves as they assimilate the necessary information. It does not replace the technical document and does not serve as an alternative authoritative source. Some information contained in the technical document is not reproduced in this guide, so centre representatives must also read the more detailed guidance.
3) RSL VQ Internal Quality Assurance Process for Centres 20-21
This folder contains resources which centres will need for their Internal Quality Assurance processes this year, including the Head of Centre Declaration Template. More details are given in the documents mentioned above.
Resources from the CPD sessions
The resources from our recent CPD sessions ‘Adapting External Assessment to Internal Assessment’ should be available via the ‘Help and Support’ section of the cloud.rslawards.com site by the end of this week. The videos from sessions will be in the ‘CPD Events’ section and the exemplars themselves will be in the relevant folder in the ‘Exemplars’ section.
We hope that the documentation will help you to feel more confident in your approach for the rest of the academic year. Your External Quality Assurer will be able to provide you with support and you can also contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions.
Update – 17th March 2021
Following our email on the 25th February after the first Ofqual consultation, we wanted to provide a further update about the deadline for inputting grades. We will not be publishing our final guidance about how the Teacher Assessment Grade (TAG) process will operate until after the second Ofqual consultation has closed (the expectation is this will be the end of March/beginning of April) but wanted to give some clarity about the expectation of deadlines.
As you will have seen, the deadline published for GQs to submit final grades is the 18th June 2021. To make the process as simple as possible for centres delivering multiple qualifications, this will also be the date for submission of RSL grades. Please bear in mind this will apply to all grades, not just Teacher Assessed Grades and will replace the date of the 1st July 2021 which is in our Key Dates Calendar. We appreciate this removes two weeks from the calendar but it is vital that we have all grades input by that date to ensure revised processes for the extraordinary awarding process can take place.
Update – 25th February 2021
The response to the first Ofqual consultation providing more details about the awarding of Vocational Qualifications in 20/21 has been published today, Thursday 25th February 2021, via their website. This will offer valuable insights into the frameworks around awarding this year. Ofqual are today launching a second consultation on the regulatory framework, which will close on the 11th March 2021. These more detailed consultation results are not expected until the end of March/beginning of April so there will be a longer wait until the entire picture is revealed. We share centre’s frustrations with the slow release of information but do feel that this initial response gives us confidence to make some positive steps towards awarding this year.
What we know so far:
TAGs (Teacher assessed grades) will be used where registered learners have been unable to complete assessment
-This applies across all RSL Vocational Qualifications
-TAGs can be applied for any registered learners expecting to sit an assessment between 1st August 2020 and 31st August 2021
-TAGs can apply to learners certificating this year, and those who are part way through their qualification.
-Results days will be w/c 9th August 2021, which is in line with our usual results release.
The approach set out by Ofqual aligns well with our current guidance and as such we would ask that centres continue their immense efforts in engaging their learners, completing assessment to the best of their ability and using the centres professional judgement as to what is appropriate to undertake. It is clear from the introduction of TAGs that while assessment evidence will play a role in awarding, incomplete assessment is expected to be commonplace and learners who have been unable to engage will be supported in their qualification attainment.
Given the incomplete nature of this year's assessment, we feel it is appropriate to remove the sampling requirement with immediate effect. Centres will not be required to provide a sample for moderation, instead we would like to offer two alternatives that centres may make use of should they wish to:
Optional sample – centres can request a supportive sample to take place on unit(s) of their choosing. Where a sample has already been submitted by a centre, their EQA will complete the sample and provide a report.
Supportive EQA meeting – centres can arrange a meeting with their EQA to discuss their approach to qualification assessment.
Your EQA will be in touch with more details about these options and you will be able to arrange a date/time directly with them should you wish to engage with either.
N.B. sampling may be introduced as part of the certification mechanism, however based on last year's certification process, we do not believe that this will apply to most centres.
Process for 2021
We are keen to ensure consistency with other Awarding Organisations providing Vocational Qualifications to minimise confusion for centres, and there are still many unanswered questions that will be covered in Ofqual's second consultation. We would ask that centres be vigilant as we have seen multiple media stories containing information that is misleading or incorrect. Areas where we will provide additional guidance, following consultation, are:
-What the minimum evidential threshold will be (e.g. how much evidence must a learner have completed to be eligible for certification)
-How centres will communicate Teacher Assessed Grades to RSL
-The internal quality assurance arrangements expected of centres.
-What information centres should provide to RSL to support the results.
-How RSL will quality assure the initial Teacher Assessed Grade.
-We will send updates to centres as more information is released. We are also uploading the information on our website here -https://www.rslawards.com/covid-19-information-centres-delivering-rsl-vqs/
In the meantime, we would encourage centres to continue their excellent work supporting their learners through this difficult time and to get in touch with any questions or concerns they have. We communicated support that we will be providing to centres in the coming months and will email separately about these sessions and how to engage with them. The sessions planned for March include:
-Releasing exemplar material for a selection of grades for all of the external units
-Releasing standardisation packs for all of the external units
-Hosting training for marking the external units
We hope the details here help to provide reassurance that learners will not be disadvantaged and we will continue to update you as more details become clear.
Update – 5th February 2021
Following the announcement of our move to switch the externally assessed unit to internal, we have produced guidance to demonstrate some of the changes in approach that this change will allow and respond to queries we have had from centres. The guidance can be downloaded below:
In addition to this guidance, as centres will not have marked external units before, we will be providing support to help centres in this task. This will include:
- Releasing exemplar material for a selection of grades for all of the external units (March – Exact dates TBC)
- Releasing standardisation packs for all of the external units (March - Exact dates TBC)
- Hosting training for marking the external units (March - Exact dates TBC)
- Providing editable (word versions) of the EA briefs (February 10th 2021)
- Providing template marksheets for the external units (PDF & word) (February 10th 2021)
Details for accessing this support once released can be found in the linked 'RSL VQ External Assessment to Internal Assessment Guidance' document below and we will also contact all centres via email when it is available.
This applies only to centres where externally assessed unit/s are being conducted in the current assessment year. If this does not apply to your centre, please disregard this email.
We hope this additional guidance helps to provide clarification. If you have further questions which are not answered here, please contact your EQA or email us at email@example.com. We will provide a further update on awarding for this academic year following the results of the Ofqual consultation.
Update – 28th January 2021
Following our communication to centres on 21st January and the recent news that School and Colleges will not re-open until the 8th March at the earliest, we have a further update on the externally assessed units. We have been in constant contact with Ofqual and the Department for Education about adapting our externally assessed units for 20/21 and have agreed the approach outlined below. Our agreed approach is that we will not be cancelling the external assessment but will instead be adapting the unit to make it an internal unit.
- The controlled conditions do not apply to any aspects of the external assessment.
- The controlled window does not apply to the assessment of external units.
This change in the nature of assessment is intended to alleviate pressure from delivery centres and their learners, however we recognise it will not necessarily mean all learners are able to complete all assessment. Where possible, and where it is safe and practical to do so, learners should be encouraged to complete any tasks they are able to work on at home. Where this is not possible, we are confident that the measures being consulted on by Ofqual and DfE will ensure no learner will be disadvantaged.
For more details about this change, and next steps, please download the guidance document below.
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...
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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.
Please do not hesitate to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
In the meantime if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us via email@example.com