Following @Ofqual’s announcement that A Level and GCSE students are to receive Centre Assessment Grades, @Pearson yesterday (19 Aug) reviewed the impact on BTEC students and taken on board feedback from teachers, schools and colleges:
Following our review and your feedback we have decided to apply Ofqual’s principles for students receiving BTECs this summer.
Sector Response To #BTEC Results Delay
Responding to the news that BTEC results will be reviewed and not distributed to students on Thursday 20 August, AoC Chief Executive David Hughes said:
“BTEC students deserve equal footing with A Levels and GCSEs. The public perception was that using CAG grades for some exams and not for BTEC students was unfair. We had asked Pearson to look at a small number of results which looked unfair and they were happy to do that. An overall review can address those results and check that no student has been treated unfairly.
“The timing is worrying, because thousands of students were due to get their results in the morning and others have already got results which we know will not go down, but which might improve. So it is vital for students that this is sorted in days rather than weeks so that students have the chance to celebrate and to plan their next steps. It is a stressful time and this delay will extend the uncertainties.
“Those students wanting to move onto further or higher education will be most worried about losing out on places. We are in close communication with DfE, Ofqual and Pearson to particularly make sure that BTEC students applying for universities can still be treated fairly.
“For those who would have received their Level 1 and 2 BTECs tomorrow we urge them to speak to their local college who will do everything in their power to support them to progress and get on with the learning and training they’re so keen to begin.”
Tom Bewick, Chief Executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies said:
“Earlier this week the government was forced to make a U-turn on the model of calculating this summer’s A-Level and GCSE results because of an algorithm used for statistical standardisation. This was to ensure fairness to students and to enable them to progress.
“Because of this decision, awarding organisations offering vocational and technical qualifications have wanted to ensure that no students taking VTQ awards are treated differently or disadvantaged. Statements have already been put out by the individual awarding organisations concerned about which VTQs are affected.
“We would like to stress that tens of thousands of VTQ students will be receiving their valid and reliable results on time and in the next few weeks. However, we accept that there will still be a significant number of students, because of the government U-turn on Monday, who will now experience a delay.
“The Federation completely understands the frustration and confusion that this will cause for many learners. For those VTQs affected, awarding organisations are working hard to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
“We will be working closely with ministers and the regulators over the coming days to rectify the situation.”
Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:
“This latest chaos is totally unacceptable. For some young people to find out less than a day in advance that they will not be receiving their grades tomorrow is utterly disgraceful.
“Gavin Williamson and the Department for Education should have had a grip of this situation days ago. It’s appalling that thousands of young people should face further confusion and uncertainty because of the government’s incompetence .
“This repeated chaos is simply no way to run a country. The government must urgently set a clear deadline for every young person to receive their grades.”
Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“The National Education Union congratulates all students receiving their results today. We commend them, the education staff who have supported them and their parents and carers on their hard work this year. They have shown great patience throughout the challenges of lockdown and last week’s shambolic uncertainty.
“Schools and colleges stepped up in challenging circumstances when exams were cancelled. They have worked tirelessly and professionally to submit grades for their students, based on all the evidence available to them, their experience and sound professional judgement. Teachers know their students better than any model or algorithm and it will be a relief to many that the grades they receive are now a fairer reflection of their achievements.
“To add to the GCSE and A level fiasco, the decision by Pearson not to issue BTEC results at the eleventh hour compounds the upsetting and chaotic experience for students. Government must put an end to this incompetence and work quickly to ensure every young person gets the grades they deserve to move onto the next stages of their lives.
“Serious questions remain as to what will happen next year and beyond. Government and Ofqual must learn from 2020 and start listening to the professionals, who have said very clearly that the plans for next year are not sufficient. With many months of learning lost for these students, exam content for next summer must be further reduced. Without this, the exams will become more a measure of how long individual students were in lockdown or whether they had access to learning at home as opposed to what they are capable of.
“In any normal year, the over-reliance on exams increases student anxiety and fails to give a fair reflection of what students can achieve. Due to the fact exams are sat at a specific time and date, if a student is ill or experiences anything else which could affect their performance, this can also unfairly impact on their grade.
“Had we already in place an assessment model for GCSEs and A-Levels which didn’t put all its eggs in the end of term exams basket, we wouldn’t have been in the mess we were this year. There are many ways to validly assess young people, yet in most subjects at GCSE we rely on these terminal exams to determine 100% of the grade.
“The NEU is calling for Government to commission an independent review of the assessment methods used to award GCSE and A-level qualifications in England, along the lines announced by the Scottish government. All options should be considered to ensure that young people are rewarded for their achievements, supported to fulfil their potential and not held back due to their background.”
“The NEU has written to Gavin Williamson outlining our concerns and have asked for an urgent response. An NEU petition highlighting our concerns about 2021 exams has also been launched.”
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:
‘Students have worked incredibly hard in difficult conditions this year. But due to government chaos BTEC students will have woken up this morning expecting to receive their results only to be told that a private company has pulled them. The government now needs to fix this mess so students can plan for the future. We need to stop turning education into marketplace, end the absurdity of private providers assessing results, and put students first.’
‘If we see a similar increase in BTEC pass rates as we have seen in GCSE’s then many more students will be able to go to college. The government now needs to commit to increasing funding and capacity so that no student is left behind and so colleges can safely welcome students in the middle of a pandemic.
‘Colleges will need to play a big role in our national recovery but a decade of funding cuts has led to a third of teachers leaving further education since 2009. The last thing this cohort of students needs is a substandard experience in colleges because the government fail to fund the sector. Students are paying the price for a decade of cuts and privatisation, we now need to fund further education properly as part of a national recovery plan.’
Dr Mairi Watson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience at the University of Hertfordshire, commented:
“At the University of Hertfordshire, we can confirm that we will offer students places based on either their awarded BTEC results or their predicted (CAG) grades, whichever is higher. As a leading vocational higher education institution, we are disappointed that these students are facing a delay in the results awarding process. BTEC students study a wide range of courses that are critical to our future highly skilled workforce, from engineering to healthcare, and are often better prepared for university studies as a result of the self-guided nature of their portfolio-based studies. We need to give them the certainty about their futures that they deserve.”
David Seaton, assistant director of admissions and recruitment at the University of Bedfordshire says this potentially puts BTEC students at a disadvantage compared to A-level students and universities must do their best to maintain access for everyon:
“The delay of the BTEC results makes it an anxious time for students.
“One concern BTEC students may have is that A-level students have stolen a march on them by getting their results first. With some universities now oversubscribed because of the confusion caused by the change from using the algorithm to predicted grades this is potentially bad news for BTEC students.
“A-level and BTEC students do the same courses at some institutions, so could end up competing directly for places, with A-level students ahead of the game in a first come first served system, which some institutions may adopt. Even with the cap on numbers lifted there is a limit to the extent student numbers can be expanded because of social distancing considerations.
“At the University of Bedfordshire our highest priority is to preserve access for all learners and we’re committed to keeping places open for BTEC students and for students who only make the decision to enter higher education after receiving their results.”
An Ofqual spokesperson said:
“Since the decision to stop exams and external assessment this summer due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, Ofqual has been working with 160 awarding organisations to help them ensure their alternative arrangements for over 14,000 qualifications fit within our vocational and technical qualifications (VTQ) regulatory framework.
“Monday’s decision to move away from the algorithmic approach used for GCSEs and A levels has led to those few awarding organisations that used similar approaches to reconsider their awarding decisions and place greater weight on the most trusted evidence available. Those that used qualification-level centre assessment grades will be able to recalculate results and issue them on time.
“Others will need more time, because their approach is more complex: OCR have said that their Cambridge National results will issue next week. Pearson, which initially did not think there would need to be significant changes made, has now decided to revise its arrangements to ensure that students’ qualification-level results better reflect the unit-level results that students have already secured through internally-assessed units. For all awarding organisations, both their original approaches and their revised approach are in line with Ofqual’s VTQ regulatory framework.
“Everyone is working as quickly as possible to confirm results as soon as possible, recognising the impact that delays are having on schools, colleges and students.”