Important education policy updates: coronavirus

We’ve collated some of the biggest changes to affect education providers over the last few weeks. If you have specific queries about our services, please refer to our dedicated page relating to coronavirus updates and access to our services. 

Education settings closure

The government closed all schools, early years providers and colleges, except for maintaining provision for children of key workers. The government published information for parents and carers, and also clarified who qualifies as a key worker as part of guidance on maintaining educational provision

 Examinations and Awarding

Ofqual has released a statement confirming that they are “working urgently with the Department for Education, awarding organisations, other regulators and the wider sector to develop and publish a clear approach for the different categories of VTQs in the coming days.”

The full statement from Ofqual:

We recognise learners on vocational and technical courses urgently need reassurance about how their qualifications will be assessed and awarded in the coming weeks and months. We are working as quickly as possible to develop an approach which enables learners to get the qualifications they deserve and that they need to progress.

For the wide range of vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) used for progression and taken in schools, colleges and training providers, we are considering how similar arrangements to those set out for GCSEs, AS and A levels could be applied. Some form of teacher calculated grade, or other form of estimation based on assessment that has already taken place, will be possible in many cases. For other qualifications, it might be more appropriate to adapt the assessment or delivery arrangements so that everyone can have confidence in the outcome. And for some qualifications that signify occupational competence or award a licence to practise in safety-critical industries, assessment might need to be delayed in order to ensure public safety and meet the needs of employers.

There are many different types of qualification, awarding organisations, learner groups and assessment approaches, so the landscape is complex and it is clear that one size will not fit all circumstances.

We are working urgently with the Department for Education, awarding organisations, other regulators and the wider sector to develop and publish a clear approach for the different categories of VTQs in the coming days.

Funding

Colleges

Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, wrote a letter to colleges on Friday 20 March, confirming that the ESFA will continue to pay grant funded providers their scheduled monthly payments for the remainder of the year. Allocations for 2020/21 will have been confirmed by the end of March, and payments will be made as scheduled.

Training Providers

Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills wrote a letter to training providers on 23 March. Whilst this letter confirmed that grant funded providers will still receive their payments until the end of the year, other training providers were signposted to the Government’s package of measures to support businesses to withstand the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Apprenticeships

The Department for Education has published guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers. This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely and via e-learning as far as is practicable
  • allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible
  • clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to COVID-19 issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled.
  • enabling employers and training providers to report and initiate a break in learning where the interruption to learning due to COVID-19 is greater than four weeks
  • clarification on how to record breaks in learning so that funding is not unnecessarily disrupted
  • confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is our ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks.

The guidance and measures start immediately and apply until further notice.

Consultations

IfATE confirmed that the following consultations have been extended as follows:

  • Funding bands consultation extended until 12.00pm Monday 18th May
  • External Quality Assurance (EQA) simplified system extended until Thursday 21st May

This allows an extra 6 weeks to provide evidence and a response.

We’re continuing to monitor the situation and will provide updates as they develop. If you have specific queries about our services, please refer to our dedicated page relating to coronavirus updates and access to our services. If you wish to speak to the team, our communication lines remain as normal.

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