2 Oct 2020

Remote assessment and invigilation of functional skills


Background

After the cancellation of the summer exams, Ofqual, the exams regulator, moved to a system of centre assessed grades (CAGs) for functional skills qualifications. However, Ofqual has ruled out the use of centre-assessed grades to award vocational and technical qualifications, including functional skills, from the 1st of August 2020.

The regulator ran a consultation on how to grade BTEC and other vocational learners, including functional skills learners, next year should Covid-19 continue to disrupt normal assessments. The outcome of the consultation, published on the 7th of September, is that rather than using calculated results, awarding organisations will be required to adapt their assessment arrangements to mitigate any impact of the pandemic. This could include:

  • changing the way in which assessments are delivered, for example by using an online rather than paper-based test, or carrying out an assessment remotely rather than face-to-face;
  • changing invigilation requirements, for example by allowing the use of online invigilation so that assessments can take place in a wider range of settings.

Current situation 

It's recognised that many learners are currently experiencing difficulty in taking functional skills assessments: they may be unable to attend their normal place of study or work (apprentices) or travel to an exam centre. Awarding organisations are working on putting in place arrangements for those learners to access alternative venues or to undertake remote assessments. Below is a brief rundown and links to current information relating to remote assessment and remote invigilation for functional skills qualifications. 

City and Guilds

Currently developing a new remote invigilation service, which will be available in the coming months, allowing assessments on their online platform to be taken from home or the workplace and removing the need to travel to a test centre. They will supply invigilators. They are evaluating the use of remote invigilation for future functional skills delivery.

NCFE

“In light of the challenges presented by Covid-19, NCFE has worked to adapt its regulations around existing invigilation arrangements for Functional Skills qualifications. Working closely alongside providers to understand their individual requirements so we can continue to fully support them, we have also looked to amend the assessment variation process to allow for additional and adapted assessment delivery arrangements. These alternative invigilation options are currently available for our paper based and online programmes of study. We’re also working on a remote invigilation solution which we hope to launch at the end of October.”

Open Awards

Introduced remote invigilation of functional skills in 2019/2020 as an extension to online testing for Maths and English at Levels 1 and 2.

Skillsfirst

Issued an update on remote functional skills proctoring (invigilation) on 21 September, in which they announced that they are "aiming to make remote proctoring of Functional Skills exams available to all Skillsfirst customers before the end of 2020."

Further information

  • Ofqual has jointly released a statement with several organisations involved in assessments, committing to work together and streamline the exchange of information between centres and AOs so that things run more smoothly in 2020/21. As a first step, they have jointly agreed that, by 23 October, awarding organisations will have started to communicate to centres their planned approach to any adaptations to their qualifications for 2020/21, to assist in mitigating disruption to teaching, learning and assessments so that, as far as possible, learners have the opportunity to receive fair results in 2020 to 2021 and are not disadvantaged by the longer-term impacts of the pandemic. 
  • For an overview of the assessment and awarding of GCSE and functional skills maths and English qualifications in 2021, click here.

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