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COVID-19 Quality Update for centres delivering NOCN Qualifications

12th June 2020 Date of publication

COVID-19 Quality update: NOCN Qualification Results Submission, updated FAQs - 12th June 2020

Further to the COVID-19 NOCN Quality updates circulated in recent weeks, I wanted to alert you to two additional questions added to the NOCN FAQ document (questions 2 and 14). Please find the link to the updated document and additional questions stated below:

NOCN GUIDANCE FOR SUMMER ASSESSMENTS 2020

2. Can a centre change the agreed mitigation approach for a qualification?If your Centre wants to deviate from NOCNs agreed mitigation approach please contact your EQA or our Customer Services Team as soon as possible. For centres working with One Awards please contact your EQA to discuss any proposed deviations.

You will need to outline your rationale for adopting a different mitigation in your policy but it needs to be discussed with the EQA to ensure it is a suitable approach which does not disadvantage learners. One Awards are also required to notify NOCN of all approved deviations from the designated mitigation for all qualifications. The easiest way to communicate this to your EQA would be to send your draft policy to them for information and this will form the basis of the discussion.

14. What do centres record on the 'NOCN Special Arrangements Information for Calculated and Adapted Results' spreadsheet where a learner’s assessment will not be calculated or adapted?

Where a learner’s assessment will not be calculated or adapted the centre will still need to record whether their assessment is to be delayed or continue as usual. The spreadsheet will allow Centres to record this information for each learner but no results will be entered.

In addition to the NOCN FAQs I wanted to respond to a few other questions centres have asked over the past week:

  • Can we submit a number of results spreadsheets to One Awards if we deliver multiple qualifications across our organisation? No, please just submit one spreadsheet. This will allow us to complete the data analysis, quality assurance and standardisation processes required to confirm calculated results for your centre and also to transmit the results to NOCN as required.
  • If our centre has results to claim which have been completed under ‘normal’ conditions and are ready for EQA, or for us to claim via the Direct Claims process, when should we run our results report for the remaining learners due to complete by 31st July? Please either claim the results and run the report once these have been processed by One Awards, or run the report now and delete the learners who have achieved.
  • Why are some learners appearing on our Results Spreadsheet who have already achieved units and been certificated? This shouldn’t be happening and NOCN are investigating why some learners who have achieved are still included in the report. I will notify you as soon as this problem has been fixed but, if you wish to continue to the use the report as it appears, please delete those learner rows.

  • What do we do about learners who have withdrawn from the course? Please leave all the columns blank and state that the learner has withdrawn in the Notes/Comments column at the end of the spreadsheet.
  • Why is it sometimes taking One Awards longer to respond to my queries and my call can’t be automatically forwarded onto other staff member who can answer my question? We understand that there is a great deal of pressure on everyone trying to implement the ‘Extraordinary’ assessment requirements. The full guidance for centres has been published in stages, with updates being issued weekly, and this can be confusing and frustrating at times, especially when technology and systems don’t work seamlessly. We are doing everything we can to support centres during this challenging time but are in the same position as most organisations in that our reduced staff team are working from home without access to the usual telephone systems which allow for forwarding on. I have asked our EQA team to ensure that all centres have their direct contact details, including a telephone number, and please be assured that we will continue to work hard to respond in a timely manner to your enquiries. Thank you for your patience at this time.

If you have any questions about this update please don’t hesitate to contact your EQA or email Quality@oneawards.org.uk.

Update - 8th June 2020

Further to the COVID-19 NOCN Quality Updates circulated on 11, 15 and 26 May 2020, please find a link below to the centre guidance for the download, population and submission of the results spreadsheet for the Summer Assessment Series 2020.

Centre Guidance: Submission of Centre Assessment Grades and Adaptations

Guidance video

Guidance for Centre Assessment Grades 

I hope you find the guidance clear and helpful in submitting the results for your centre. The guidance refers to the NOCN process throughout but for all queries please contact One Awards directly. Your External Quality Assurer will continue to be a key point of contact during this process and they will work closely with the One Awards Quality Team to support you in the implementation of the requirements. Please also contact us at Quality@oneawards.org.uk if you have questions.

We fully appreciate the difficulties and challenges faced by centres and learners at during this unprecedented period of disruption and will work closely and flexibility with you over the coming months to ensure your learners have a fair and equitable opportunity to achieve and progress. 

Update - 26th May 2020

NOCN is pleased to provide further important information and guidance to our centres regarding the calculation of results for learners studying a NOCN qualification who have had their learning disrupted due to the covid-19 pandemic.

New dates for issuing of calculated results

Following a discussion with Ofqual, we are amending the dates for when NOCN will be confirming results to centres following the completion of the calculated results process. This was originally communicated as taking place between 6th July and 14th August.

The period of results issue has now been amended to:

Level 3 and above qualifications – By 12th August

Entry Level to Level 2 qualifications – By 19th August

These have been amended to fall in line with national GCSE and A-Level result days. NOCN encourages centres to submit their Centre Assessment Grades as soon as they are able to, once the submission window opens on the 8th June. All Centre Assessment Grades must be submitted to NOCN by the 31st July to allow for the required quality assurance activities to take place.

Estimation Process Guidance

NOCN has developed guidance documents for centres regarding the estimation process. This guidance covers:

  • How the estimation process will work.
  • How centres can prepare for the estimation process.
  • What information centres should include in their estimation policies.
  • General guidance for centres regarding the Centre Assessment Grades process.
  • The recording of Centre Assessment Grades.
  • The role of the Head of Centre.
  • Information regarding standardisation, quality assurance, malpractice and appeals.

Please click here to download the guidance document. This is also available on the One Awards website. 

Appendix 2 - Policy Template for Centres - word version

The document also contains specific information regarding NOCN’s Functional Skills Qualifications (both legacy and reform) (Appendix 1) and includes a policy template that centres may wish to utilise (Appendix 2).

Clarifying NOCN Policy on Estimations and Adaptions

To aid centres’ understanding of NOCN’s policy regarding estimations and adaptations, NOCN has published the below policy documents:

The policy documents contain important information regarding NOCN’s policy on calculated results and adaptions of its qualifications. They may be useful for centres in determining their own policies. These documents are subject to change as Ofqual’s Extraordinary Regulatory Framework (ERF) develops.

Further information regarding the mitigations in place for the Summer 2020 assessment series can be found on our website here: https://www.nocn.org.uk/what-we-do/qualifications/guidance-for-centre-assessment-grades/

Update 14th May 2020

Further to the COVID-19 Quality Update – 11th May 2020, please find below a link to the following guidance which has been published on the NOCN and One Awards websites today: Guidance for Centre Assessment Grades for Awarding Organisation Calculated Results and Adaptations: Summer 2020 results for vocational, technical and other qualifications. 

Guidance for NOCN Centre Assessment Grades

The document includes links to the process flowchart and timeline (point 8) and guidance for Functional Skills and ESOL Qualifications (point 6) and Sector Specific Qualifications (point 13). Further guidance on the production of centre policies for arriving at centre assessment grades is in development and will be issued shortly. Your External Quality Assurer will be a key point of contact during this process and they will work closely with the One Awards Quality Team to support you in the implementation of the requirements.

We fully appreciate the difficulties and challenges faced by centres and learners at during this unprecedented period of disruption and will work closely and flexibility with you over the coming months to ensure your learners have a fair and equitable opportunity to achieve and progress.

Update for centres delivering NOCN Qualifications - 11th May 2020

Please find below a link to the latest NOCN COVID-19 update following the launch of the Ofqual consultation on calculating results for Vocational and Technical Qualifications. NOCN are in the process of defining the process and producing guidance for centres and this will be published as soon as it is available.

Calculation of results - Summer 2020 results for vocational, technical and other qualifications:

Following the publication of the Ministerial Directive on 9 April 2020, NOCN is working with Ofqual to develop alternative arrangements for the awarding of NOCN qualifications to enable learner progression in life and work within the current government guidance. For additional information please see government news awarding vocational and technical qualifications this summer.

Government guidelines set out in a Letter from Secretary of State for Education - VTQs that ‘assessments cannot proceed as planned this Spring and Summer’, and states the measures to be taken to reduce the impact of the pandemic. NOCN is implementing these measures and confirm that learners due to complete assessments for NOCN qualifications between March and July 2020, will not be expected to take outstanding assessments. Instead NOCN will issue a calculated result. This calculated result will be based on a range of evidence and data capture. NOCN will contact centres shortly to inform them about evidence requirements for impacted learners.

Ofqual Consultation

Ofqual have consulted on the exceptional arrangements that they have set out for awarding vocational and technical qualifications, and general qualifications. Further information on the consultation here: Ofqual Consultation VTQs. The consultation closed on 8th May 2020 and the outcomes of the consultation will be published in due course. NOCN will inform centres of the process for centres to calculate grades once we receive confirmation of the consultation outcomes. NOCN is working closely with Ofqual and other awarding organisations and will update centres shortly to inform them about evidence requirements for impacted learners.

Quality Assurance 

NOCN offers arguably the broadest range of qualifications and alternative routes for both experienced workers and new entrants to the jobs market. Our continuous program of development and improvement will continue during this COVID-19 situation, to keep our qualifications fresh and up to date.

We know that individuals will want to continue with their learning and assessments where possible. NOCN will facilitate this by providing online assessment as usual, IT systems, certification and full office support during this time and we will continue to provide Quality Assurance services.

NOCN appreciates that centres will need to ensure their processes are safe for staff, and learners, and that COVID-19 will provide great challenges for continued routine delivery. The attached FAQs outline NOCN guidance for alternative arrangements and how centres can submit requests for special considerations for this period. 

To keep centres, learners and NOCN staff safe, all face-to-face visits have been cancelled with immediate effect as per Government announcements and official advice over COVID19. NOCN will continue to support centres and quality assure but will employ contingency arrangements for remote external quality assurance activities. If you require an EQA visit or remote sampling in the next two to three months please contact quality@oneawards.org.uk. The quality assurance team will discuss how this can be done in a safe manner whilst ensuring fairness to your learners. The attached EQA COVID-19 Contingency – Remote EQA Visits and Remote Sampling outlines our contingency plan for this period and provides guidance to centres on what remote EQA visits will involve.

We believe that while assessments are taking place, we have to provide monitoring of the assessments to ensure the quality of our qualifications is maintained and will continue to do this via remote platforms. Our EQAs and office-based quality assurance team will be available to answer questions and queries during this period.

We are working with our Awarding Organisation peers to develop new assessment arrangements due to the Coronavirus outbreak and will notify you of these as soon as possible. Enhanced monitoring will be conducted once the lock down is ended.
Please contact us if you need help or support rolling these out remotely on quality@oneawards.org.uk.

Certificates
NOCN are continuing to produce and issue certificates in the usual way, dispatching in batches via the Post Office’s registered mail to Training Centres’ main sites. If you are a Training Centre and you are having difficulty receiving certificates due to the COVID19 situation, please arrange a redirect with the Post Office, or please let us know an alternative address through our email cst@oneawards.org.uk. If you are a learner or an employer, please contact your Training Centre for your certificates.

Update for centres delivering NOCN Qualifications - 24th March 2020

Further to our update on the 20th March, NOCN have issued further guidance to support centres at this challenging time. Please find below links to the following documents which are also available on documents section of our website:

  1. FAQs for centres delivering NOCN Qualifications – this will be updated as new information is available. We will notify you when each update is made – Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Disruption to NOCN Qualification Delivery
  2. Special arrangements request form – if, in making plans to support your learners to continue with their programmes of learning, you are considering any assessment arrangements which would not usually be permitted by NOCN/One Awards, please complete this form and send it to NOCN Special Arrangements Request
  3. Confidentiality Statement – if you are transporting any learner work/exam scripts to another location e.g. the home of assessors, please use this form to gain confirmation that confidentiality will be maintained. NOCN Confidentiality of Assessment Material Guidance and Statement

If you have any questions about this guidance please don’t hesitate to get in touch and I hope you, your staff and learners are staying safe and well.

COVID-19 Contingency Planning for Quality Assurance - One Awards update 20th March 2020

Further to the Government’s announcements yesterday the One Awards office will close from 4.30pm on Friday 20th March. Staff will be working from home with access to all electronic systems and we will endeavour to minimise the impact on centres and learners as far as possible. For quality assurance queries please use email for contact with us wherever possible Quality@oneawards.org.uk For emergencies and urgent calls please use the office number (0191 5186550) and your call will be diverted to a mobile phone.

For general communication One Awards will send directed emails and provide information and advice on our website: https://www.oneawards.org.uk/

Please click here for information relating to Access to HE Provision

In addition to the office close, One Awards face-to-face EQA visits will be cancelled from Monday for an indefinite period and so there are now three options (please see guidance attached):

  • Complete a remote sample of learner work in order to confirm achievement
  • Complete a remote visit to offer support and/or sample learner work
  • Postpone the visit

EQA remote sample

  • This may be an appropriate alternative for low – marginal risk centres and qualifications.
  • EQAs have been asked to liaise with centres to ensure a sample of learner work and relevant records (e.g. assessment, IQA records, tracking documents) are requested.
  • EQAs will agree secure transfer of learner work for sampling e.g. password protected scans via email, recorded delivery of copies, access to e-portfolio platforms or sending via WeTransfer which can be downloaded for free and does not require an account - https://wetransfer.com/
  • This would not be appropriate if a centre or qualification is moderate - high risk.
  • EQAs will complete the NOCN External Quality Assurance Remote Sample Report for NOCN qualifications. Sections of the relevant One Awards Reports will be completed for One Awards units and Quality Mark.

EQA Remote visit

  • This would be appropriate where a centre or qualification is moderate - high risk or is in need of support.
  • The attached guidance outlines the process for this new activity which would cover the usual aspects of an EQA face-to-face visit but remotely.
  • This will require detailed planning to ensure centres know how to submit evidence. The NOCN External Quality Assurance remote Visit Planner will be sent in advance of the meeting.
  • EQAs will need to set up a meeting link for the Centre. Skype, Teams or Zoom are recommended, see guidance attached.
  • As a remote visit covers all usual aspects of a visit EQAs will complete the NOCN External Quality Assurance Report, One Awards EQA Report or Quality Mark Report relevant to the provision being quality assured.

Postpone the visit

If there is no learner work to sample it may be appropriate to postpone the visit. EQAs will contact your centre for a discussion about your circumstances and plans and make a decision on a risk assessment basis. In all cases, EQAs will notify One Awards of arrangements made with centres.

EQA COVID 19 Contingency - Remote EQA Visits and Remote Sampling

Registration and Certification

NOCN Qualifications – please continue to register your learners and certification will continue for as long as possible. We will notify you of any changes to this service.

One Awards units - please continue to register learners but unfortunately we will not be able to print and distribute certificates until the office re-opens. You may wish to provide in-house confirmation of completion for your learners but please do not use the One Awards logo.

Quality Mark centres – please continue to register participants but unfortunately we will not be able to print and distribute certificates until the office re-opens.

We will work with you as flexibly as we are able to support your plans to ensure learner assessment and verification continue, whilst maintaining One Awards and NOCN standards. If you have any questions at this time, please don’t hesitate to contact your EQA or a member of the Quality Team on Quality@oneawards.org.uk

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