Dame Glenys Stacey, Interim Chief Regulator, Ofqual

Dame Glenys Stacey @Ofqual's speech to the Association of Colleges' (@Aoc_info) Further Education Summit, 18 November 2020:

Good morning and thank you for inviting me to join you today. Thank you for inviting me to speak today, I do appreciate it.

And thank you as well for all the exceptional work you are doing, to mitigate for your students the truly baleful and ongoing impact of the pandemic on education. I appreciate and applaud everyone’s efforts here and your resolve to best educate your students and protect their futures. It is outstanding in so many respects, but it is also what I have long known and respected, in the FE sector. A heartfelt thank you from me

Much of the talk in recent months has been of GCSEs and A levels but today I’d like to focus on vocational and technical qualifications. These are particularly important to many of your students, and they are increasing in prominence generally with the government’s Post-16 qualification review and the anticipated FE White Paper.

But first, I do want to make clear that we at Ofqual are sorry for what happened this summer: the distress and anxiety it caused for many students and their parents; the problem it created for teachers; and the impact it had on higher and further education providers. For our part, we are truly sorry for that.

The government has since renewed its commitment to examinations. I welcome that: we know this is generally the best way of testing knowledge and understanding, and the feedback we are getting from recent focus groups at Ofqual shows that parents and students, they are welcoming it too. In this year, because of the pandemic, there are new challenges, in assessing the right things in the right ways, so that even under exceptional assessment and examination arrangements, we still want to get sufficiently valid and reliable results for your students.

Now, awarding organisations with high levels of subject knowledge and expertise have the ability to consider how the right things should be assessed, and how to adapt assessment in this exceptional year. But they must also have a deep understanding of how centres and your colleges operate and their student cohort, as well as the needs of future employers or higher education providers.

So, from my perspective, knowing the challenges on the ground, understanding the impact of change and appreciating how these qualifications are used is critical to developing appropriate assessment – not just this year, but for the longer-term future actually, as well as for this year.

With these things in mind, we are regulating awarding organisations in novel ways, in these extraordinary times. We have got something called the Extraordinary Regulatory Framework – bit of a mouthful, but it allows awarding organisations to use their judgement to adapt assessments and qualifications where necessary and appropriate.

Just thinking that through, particular skills and levels of practical competence are important for a student to be able to demonstrate their mastery and move into employment. Missed learning in key areas can make the difference between a student understanding safe and unsafe practices in some subject areas – and that is another key issue for us. Any changes proposed by awarding bodies do need to protect these key attributes of particular qualifications

And as AoC are telling us on your behalf, there have been difficulties in students accessing mandatory work placements as a result of the pandemic, so we have that to look at as well.

For those students intending to progress to higher education, often taking VTQs alongside A levels, there are other challenges. We know how important it is that there is coherence with GCSEs, AS and A levels. And so awarding organisations must try, as far as possible, to ensure that adaptations made to assessments do not advantage or disadvantage students against those taking GCSEs, AS and A levels. There needs to be a level playing field there.

Taking into account public health advice such as social distancing constraints, awarding organisations are putting in place a wide range of adaptations for vocational and technical qualifications to free up time for teaching and learning; and make these assessments as manageable and flexible as possible. And we’ve been encouraging professional bodies and employers to work closely with their awarding organisations so that students are not unreasonably penalised for loss of learning during this difficult time

So some examples then, assessment tasks or briefs may be available earlier or assessment windows extended. Assessments may be streamlined to free up for time for teaching and learning – without reducing the content that is taught. And, of course, there is the introduction of remote assessment and remote invigilation – allowing assessments to take place in different settings.

Now there are risks involved with these adaptations. We are monitoring how awarding organisations make use of these new freedoms, with a keen eye on validity, but also an awareness of the practicalities of assessment for many of these qualifications. For example we hear from you that the January RQF exams are likely to be logistically challenging – we’re actively looking at what we can do and we do recognise the need for early certainty.

And we are working closely with the awarding organisations and sector bodies, including AoC, to set in place consistent approaches wherever possible and appropriate. This is not only in relation to qualifications with much in common, such as functional skills qualifications, but also in relation to how and when awarding organisations communicate with you to help you receive the information you keenly need.

So just to finish off, and to look further ahead, we welcome the upcoming White Paper, of course, and government’s ambitions for a high quality, coherent qualification market which offers the right level of choice for all types of learners at all levels. We want to see the detail of that. In the meantime, we are strengthening our capacity and redoubling our efforts in anticipation – so for example, we are gathering and publishing more data than ever before about VTQs, and I will mention here our VTQ landscape explorer analytics tool, it’s a nice useful piece of kit that we’re updating on our website this week.

To finish, as you balance the necessary changes and adaptations during this pandemic with caring for your students’, and your own health and wellbeing, we, together with AoC, the awarding organisations, DfE and many other stakeholders across the whole sector, are working hard to safeguard sufficient validity in assessments but also keeping at heart the student perspective. Above all, we want students to have the reassurance and confidence that they have been treated fairly, and future employers to have confidence in the skills of their new employees.

Dame Glenys Stacey, Interim Chief Regulator, Ofqual

You may also be interested in these articles:

Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page