The DfE and Ofqual have announced the arrangements to be put in place this summer to give results to your students taking vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) as well as other general qualifications.
We’re pleased to confirm that your students taking Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals, as well as other general qualifications, will receive grades based on teacher judgements this summer. This is similar to the arrangements for GCSEs and A Levels.
We’ll be updating these FAQs and our guidance and support on our website regularly.
Teacher assessed grades
It is no longer viable for written exams to go ahead.
Students’ results will be awarded using similar arrangements to GCSEs and AS or A Levels i.e. ‘Teachers must assess their students’ performance, only on what content has been delivered to them by their teachers, to determine the grade each student should receive’.
Arrangements for awarding will apply to certificating and non-certificating learners.
The performance standard for VTQs and other general qualifications should be broadly the same as in previous years when exams have taken place.
The grade for your certificating students taking Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals will be at qualification level.
How do we record our teacher assessed grade decisions?
You can record your decisions in any format suitable for your centre, feedback from centres when determining the process was they did not want a prescribed way of recording the decisions, as many already have their own method for recording.
If you would rather use a supplied template, the JCQ assessment record template for general qualifications can be adapted for use. For example, change the AO headings to LO to match Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals.
Submitting grades this summer
As part of the work to give students' results this summer, we’ll be asking you to submit teacher assessed grades by the 18 June 2021 using our grade submission system which is the same system you used for summer 2020. The grade submission system will allow you to enter teacher assessed grades for certificating students from 26 May 2021.
When should we determine the teacher assessed grades?
Teachers should determine the grades as late in the academic year as is practicable, and not confined to a defined window, to enable teaching to continue for as long as possible.
Can we tell students their teacher assessed grades?
No, you cannot tell students the teacher assessed grade before results are issued.
Students not certificating in summer 2021
Where your students are part way through their course and would have been taking assessments this summer, they can be given unit level teacher assessed grades for the units that they would have done.
Please see our separate FAQs for students not certificating in summer 2021.
Assessment evidence – Cambridge Nationals and Technicals
The DfE has outlined the range of assessment evidence you can use from throughout the course of study. We’ve prepared a short video below to outline these details for vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) to help you plan ahead.
Determining and submitting grades for Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals
Much of the JCQ guidance also applies to determining and submitting teacher assessed grades for students certificating with Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals in summer 2021.
To reflect differences in the content and structure of these qualifications, we’ve produced our own dedicated guidance to supplement JCQ's.
- Our separate guidance on grading explains how to make your judgements that form the basis for teacher assessed grades (TAGs)
- Our summer 21 guidance covers all the key processes from quality assurance to results including guidance on grading
- We’ve provided more detailed guidance on sampling of candidate evidence as part of the external quality assurance process outlined in our summer 21 guidance.
What materials are you providing to help support my grading judgements?
Awarding bodies are providing a package of support materials including questions, mark schemes, data about how students typically performed and exemplar materials, as well as advice for teachers about content coverage, topic selection, marking and making grading judgements.
This will be based on past questions and will include a proportion of previously unpublished questions for every subject.
The use of these materials is optional and they will be part of the range of evidence teachers could use to determine the teacher assessed grade.
What's available when?
- Published 31 March on the Grade Submission System – Sets of questions for all subjects, mark schemes and mapping grids. These materials can be used alongside the past papers and examiners' reports we normally provide.
- Published 31 March on the OCR website – We've published grade descriptors on the qualification pages of our public website. These are general statements giving a high-level reflection of student performance at a number of grades.
- Published 12 April on the Grade Submission System – Performance data for the additional assessment materials and marking exemplars across a wide range of subjects.
- Published 19 April on the Grade Submission System – Grading exemplars (student responses from historical exam papers) to further help you determine grades.
- Published 19 April on the OCR website – Additional assessment materials without mark schemes and slimmed down mapping grids available to students on the OCR website.
For more information about the additional assessment material, please see our article
Internal Quality Assurance
What do schools and colleges need to do?
- All centres are required to create a centre policy setting out the processes to be followed for determining grades in an appropriate, consistent and fair way. A pre-populated template option is available, which can be adopted in full or amended. Heads of Centre will also need to produce a summary of the policy. You will only be required to produce one full centre policy and complete one centre policy summary, even if you have entries with more than one awarding organisation.
- The centre policy summary is an online form to be completed on the JCQ Centre Admin Portal (CAP) by 30 April 2021 (the window for submission opens on 12 April 2021). The full centre policy should also be uploaded as an attachment when the summary form is completed. The JCQ Centre Admin Portal can be accessed via any of the awarding bodies' secure extranet sites, eg Interchange.
- A PDF of the content of the centre policy summary can be found on the JCQ website.
- A declaration by the Head of Centre is required to finalise the submission of grades. This is done for each subject with OCR via the Grade Submission System.
Do we need a separate Centre Policy for Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals?
No, your Centre Policy for GCSE, AS and A Level also covers Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals.
External Quality Assurance
What does the external quality assurance process look like?
Awarding bodies will conduct virtual visits with schools and colleges where the policy summary indicates further support and guidance may be required.
The final stage of the quality assurance process is to confirm that centres have implemented what is in their Centre Policies and that their submitted grades reflect this. This will include targeted and random sampling. Awarding bodies will decide whether to accept the grades submitted by centres or undertake further review.
Where can I find more information about the sampling process for Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals?
This can be found in our External quality assurance (post grade submission – Stage 3 – sampling) guide for Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals.
What are the timelines for sample requests for Cambridge Nationals and Technicals?
The timeline for centres in England and Wales is below. Northern Ireland dates differ due to the earlier term finish dates and can be found here.
Stage 3 Quality Assurance Process
More information about the process for submitting samples to OCR can be found on our website.
Your Centre Administrator will to be able to access the quality assurance portal via Interchange from the ‘Quality assurance samples’ item in the left-hand menu.
Internal Assessment (Moderation)
Internal assessment should continue where possible as it is important in supporting continued learning, as well as providing evidence to inform results awarded through alternative arrangements.
For Cambridge Nationals, you will not need to submit any coursework to us for moderation for the June 2021 series, this means you will not need to submit marks or samples to OCR.
For Cambridge Technicals, you will not need to submit any coursework to us for moderation, unless you wish to do so in a pre-arranged visit in April, please see below. After April, no moderation will take place.
Cambridge Technicals Moderation (Virtual Visits)
If your students continue to produce coursework to provide evidence of their learning, you don't need to submit this for moderation by us unless you wish to do so.
If you have a Cambridge Technicals virtual moderation visit planned for March or April, it can still go ahead. If you would prefer the visit not to take place you may cancel it. If you would like to continue with moderation, you'll need to submit all moderation claims to us by 29 March 2021 and complete all virtual moderation visits by the end of April.
Further details can be found here: Consultation decisions on vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) and other general qualifications
January 2021 exams
To ensure no students are disadvantaged from having sat exams in January or not, Ofqual will require awarding organisations to enable non-certificating learners, whether they were absent from January examinations, or whether they sat the examinations but found the context detrimental, to receive results through the alternative arrangements.
Our students sat the exam in January, however results were not what we expected due to the circumstances they were taken in, what can we do?
Students should not be disadvantaged from having sat exams in January, the guidance on determining your qualification level teacher assessed grades gives advice on this scenario.
We know you will have many questions about what has been announced and we won’t have all the answers yet. However, we are committed to supporting you with guidance and to answer your questions as soon as we can. We are here to support you and to help your students to progress with results that are as fair as possible this summer. Our basic timeline outlines the key stages ahead for you.