Thank you very much indeed for contacting me about BTEC examinations.
The Department for Education allowed the January assessment window for BTECs to proceed, but gave schools and colleges the final say on whether this was right for their students. I cannot imagine this was an easy decision for Education Ministers to make, but I am confident that the interests of students were centre stage in their minds.
Many students need to complete a practical or written assessment to obtain a licence to practice and enter the workplace and the DfE thought it right that these students should have the opportunity to sit those exams and progress to the next stage of their lives. Schools and colleges were best placed to know whether they were in a position to deliver these exams and what mix of students they have, which is why in the light of rapidly evolving public health advice, the DfE took the decision to give them the final say on whether proceeding with exams was right for their learners. The DfE were also aware that students had worked extremely hard to prepare for their January exams and therefore, understandably, wanted to give schools the opportunity to run them.
Looking further ahead, a consultation is being held on alternative arrangements for written exams and vocational and technical qualifications, which would normally have gone ahead in February, March, April and beyond. Within the consultation it is proposed that wherever possible internal assessments should continue remotely. Where internal assessments are completed, they will be included as evidence when deciding results.
Clearly there are a number of qualifications where a practical demonstration of occupational competency is required. In these circumstances, it is not possible to award qualifications based on teacher assessments alone. The consultation proposes that assessments for these qualifications should continue wherever possible, subject to public health guidance, so that students are able to progress into their chosen careers or on to further study. However, in some cases these may need to be deferred. The consultation will seek views on this approach.
The DfE understands that these are very difficult times and wants to ensure that each student receives a fair grade at the end of their course. They are working closely with Ofqual, and with other stakeholders, on this issue via the consultation process and I look forward to receiving more detail in due course.
Thank you once again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking