1 February 2021
We have today received further clarification from DfE and CDMT over the meaning of the term ‘effort to obtain a regulated qualification’ in the DfE Out of School guidance. This only covers indoor preparation for a regulated exam, in the period preceding the examination, assuming that the premises can legally open for that purpose.
From 8 March 2021, the education and training exemption for out-of-school settings is only attached to library premises, community centres, theatres and concert halls and has no age limit placed on it.
If you are able to return to face-to-face exam preparation, please contact your local authority / trading standards to confirm whether this is permitted in your setting. The Government has indicated their intention for out of school settings to return to face-to-face teaching for all children from 12 April as part of Step 2 of the Covid-19 response spring 2021. You can find more information on this here.
Please find more information on the government website here.
We appreciate this is a complex and confusing situation and we hope this clarifies the situation for our members. We will keep you informed of any developments as soon as we are aware of them and we are working to provide some support to prepare our members and their learners for getting back into the studio in April, see the newsletters for more information in the coming days.
February - March Examinations
On 21 January 2021, we confirmed that the Department for Education had allowed practical examinations for our regulated qualifications to continue in England in February – March 2021 (in private exam centres in line with public health measures). However, the DfE have provided a recent clarification that dance and fitness studios are not currently included in the list of permitted venues. We would therefore strongly recommend that you contact your local authority/trading standards prior to the exam session in order avoid any confusion at local level about the use of your exam venues.
To support these discussions, the government website provides guidance to you as teachers, but also for the local authority/trading standards. We have highlighted the information about the exam centres along with the key paragraph from the website referring directly to our examinations and qualifications.
It applies to all types of exam centre, including:
- state-funded schools
- further education, sixth form and specialist colleges
- independent training providers
- independent schools
- adult and community learning providers
- private exam centres
Exams or assessments that enable a student to demonstrate proficiency or occupational competence can continue in February and March. They include those that may involve practical assessment of performance or written assessment of underpinning knowledge, or both. These will include those occupational and professional qualifications required to enter directly into, or progress within, employment, or are needed to complete an apprenticeship, as well as other qualifications, including those linked to the performing arts.
Department for Education and Ofqual consultation
Alternative arrangements for the award of vocational and technical qualifications in 2021
The DfE and Ofqual have today published the outcomes of the consultation with Ofqual implementing the updated regulatory arrangements in the form of the Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF).
There was a strong response from the awarding organisations in the performing arts sector to ensure a consistent approach for our qualifications. We can confirm that no alternative arrangements will be applied to our regulated graded examinations and teaching qualifications as they have been categorised as qualifications with assessments focusing on proficiency or occupational skills. Therefore, our examinations and assessments, whether practical or written, will continue as normal with the adaptations (e.g. remote examinations) in place where relevant. In some instances, learners have delayed their assessments due to the national lockdown, but these assessments can be taken when the restrictions have been eased.
Please find more information on the consultation on the government website.
Disruption to learning
Whilst teaching has moved online due to ongoing pandemic, we are acutely aware that many learners may be impacted by the lack of access to face-to-face teaching and similar level of exam preparation as in the past which naturally may, for example, impact their motivation, fitness levels and technique. The challenge for us as an awarding organisation delivering regulated qualifications is that there is a clear regulatory requirement to maintain standards in terms of proficiency or occupational skills required by our practical examinations. This requirement has been further emphasised by Ofqual as part of the consultation.
We introduced remote examinations in the autumn to support our members in keeping their learners motivated. To mitigate the disruption, we have tried to build maximum flexibility to our remote examinations system so that our members can enter as many or few learners to exam sessions, and at the time when the learners are ready. It is of critical importance to emphasise that teachers must take into consideration the disruption when making the judgement whether each individual learner is ready for an exam; we recognise that this is a difficult task as teachers may not have similar access to their learners, with learners also experiencing different levels of disruption. Making judgements as to when each learner is truly ready can be challenging.
Examinations in UK
We have now opened examinations bookings for the summer non-peak and peak periods until 31 August for regulated examinations. We will communicate to members when our unregulated examinations can resume.
We will continue booking all exam sessions as remote sessions and will be closely monitoring the government guidance on travel restrictions and review our approach periodically based on the guidance. In a situation where a remote exam session has been booked and travel restrictions have been lifted by the government, the UK Exams team may contact you to offer a traditional examination as an option if your examiner can safely travel to conduct the examination in person. Please do not contact your examiner to request this.
Please note that the minimum daily fee will apply for examinations conducted in person, but that remote sessions do not have a minimum daily fee.
We are anticipating an increased demand in examination applications for the spring and summer months. We will therefore be returning to our regular operational timelines, and refund and cancellation policies for applications received from 1 April. For all Theatre Faculties, please request your session at least 10 weeks in advance. Timetables and fees must be submitted to us no later than one month before the exam date. Cancellation charges will apply at 6 weeks before your exam date.