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COVID-19 Access to HE updates

7th May 2020 Date of publication

COVID-19 Access to HE Update - Thursday 7th May 2020

Additional guidance for students due to complete their Access to HE Diplomas after 31 July 2020

QAA has released additional guidance for students due to complete their Access to HE Diplomas after 31 July 2020. You can find the guidance here. QAA are also running webinars on 14 and 21 May for students on this latest guidance. You can sign up for these webinars here.

COVID-19 Access to HE Update - Thursday 9th April 2020

Please find here the link to the guidance for students which has been published on the QAA Access to HE website and posted on QAA social media channels this afternoon: https://www.accesstohe.ac.uk/news-events/support-and-information-covid-19

COVID-19 Access to HE Update – Tuesday 7th April 2020

QAA continue to work urgently with AVAs and partner organisations to finalise the model for calculating grades and the supporting guidance for students and providers. There are no further details available at this time. However, in response to a question we received this morning, we are able to provide clarification about the assessment of One Awards units where these are being studied alongside an Access to HE Diploma as part of the Access course i.e. delivered and assessed in the same way as an Access unit by Access tutors. Any assignment due for submission after the 20th March will be treated in the same way as Access Diploma diploma units. This applies only to students who will complete their courses prior to the 31st July 2020.  So, in other words, the same model and regulations apply to these units as to the Access to HE Diploma this year. This is to ensure that progression to HE for students studying these units alongside their Access to HE Diploma is not hindered. This guidance does not apply to any other One Awards units delivered by providers as part of non-Access courses.

Thank you all again for your support and patience during this time and we hope to receive the full guidance for calculating grades very soon.

COVID-19 Access to HE Update – 6th April 2020

AVAs attended the daily meeting with QAA earlier today which focussed on details of the new model for arriving at calculated grades. We were also able to gain further clarification about the guidance issued on Friday with regard to the assessment of student work due for submission after the 20th March. QAA have provided the clarification that any work due for submission after 20th March will be considered as formative assessment and could contribute to the calculation of final grades for those units. Students are advised to continue learning and the completion of set assessments can be part of this process, however students have a choice as to whether to complete and submit formative assignments or not. Tutors cannot require students to submit these assignments but students may wish to if, for example, they are striving to improve on the grades already achieved prior to 20th March and wish their formative assignments to be taken into consideration when calculating the final unit grade. There will be a deadline for the submission of formative assignments, but this has not yet been agreed.

Thank you for your patience at this challenging time, we will issue further details of the grade calculation model as soon as it is available to circulate.

COVID-19 Access to HE Provider Update - Friday 3rd April 2020

We are pleased to confirm that the Department for Education decision on the grading mechanism for Access students has now been announced and QAA have published communications for students, providers and Higher Education Institutions. Please find the links below:

On the QAA main website:

On the QAA Access website:

Correspondence has also been sent to Access to HE providers and the heads of Higher Education Institutions directly by QAA.

We will be posting an update video for students later this afternoon but, in the meantime, please share this information with your students. Further planning is underway regarding the process for implementing the new model and details will be circulated by QAA next week. As soon as we have more information we will share it with you.

COVID-19 Access to HE Provider Update - Tuesday 31st March 2020

Following our daily briefing today with QAA we wanted to provide a further update. Discussions are still on-going between the regulators and the Department for Education about the best model to use for managing grading decisions for students enrolled on qualifications which enable progression to Higher Education. We are hopeful that those discussions will result in a decision by the minister sometime this week. As you can appreciate, things are moving quickly and changing on a daily basis so our main message at the moment is to please carry on as best you can. Keep supporting your students in any way you can until we receive a firm decision from QAA as to how we can best manage the situation in the interests of Access students, yourselves and the integrity of the qualification. Please ask your students to follow us on our social media platforms and our website too, if you haven’t already done so. On Twitter you can find us using @OneAwards and simply search for us on Facebook.

We will keep you fully informed and, as soon as we have any further information, we will let you know. Stay safe and well.

STATEMENT FROM QAA - Friday 27th March 2020

In the current uncertainty, we understand that as providers you want clarity as soon as possible about what’s happening with the Access to HE Diploma, what you need to do, and how students will receive their results.

Our priority is to support you and your students during this time of uncertainty. We want to reassure you that we’re in discussion with the Department for Education, Ofqual, and others to publish a clear and consistent approach to assessment as soon as possible, and in a way that is fair in these unprecedented circumstances. We are sorry this is taking longer than we had hoped for, but we are working to get information to you as soon as we can.

We’ll provide a further update on the Access to HE website next week.

In the meantime, you should also follow the current guidance, which is available on our website.

STATEMENT FROM QAA - Thursday 26th March 2020

Coronavirus latest for Access to HE students

We know that, as Access to HE students, many of you were already engaged in a tricky balance between work, family responsibilities and study. In the current uncertainty, we understand that you want clarity as soon as possible about what’s happening with your courses, what you need to do, and how you will receive your results.

Our priority is to support students during this time of uncertainty. We want to reassure you that we’re in discussion with the Department for Education, Ofqual and others to publish a clear and consistent approach to assessment as soon as possible, and in a way that is fair to you all in these unprecedented circumstances. We are sorry this is taking longer than we had hoped for but we are working to get information to you as soon as we can.

We’ll provide a further update on the Access to HE website next week.

In the meantime, students and providers should also follow the current guidance, which is available on our website.

To view this statement on the QAA Website please click the link below:

https://www.accesstohe.ac.uk/news-events/news/coronavirus-latest-for-access-to-he-students

COVID-19 Access to HE Provider Update - Thursday 26th March 2020

Please find below the latest update from QAA which was published this morning:

The advice from the Government is fast-moving, and we want to ensure that we balance that advice with the needs and concerns of students, providers and our wider communities.

As you will be aware, A-level and GCSE exams have been cancelled and students will receive calculated grades. With regards to other level three qualifications, we’re in discussions with the Government, Ofqual, Qualification Wales and other partners to develop a coherent framework for all level 3 qualifications designed to facilitate progression to higher education.

We shall provide a further update on our website next week, and you can read our latest update for students on www.accesstohe.ac.uk

Our current guidance for students and providers remains current and is available from our website.

One Awards will continue to do everything we can to support you and your students and to provide further information as soon as it is available. Lead Moderators have contacted each provider to discuss the measures you have put in place and the particular challenges you are facing in supporting students. Please do get in touch with your Lead Moderator or One Awards at any time if you want to talk about your plans and challenges. We will be flexible with the timing and arrangements for the remote sampling visits and respond to your requests. Some providers have asked to go ahead in-line with the planned schedule and others will need more time, we will respond to you.

COVID-19 Access to HE Provider Update - Wednesday 25th March 2020

Following our daily meeting with QAA at lunchtime today we wanted to keep you posted. As we’ve said, please be assured that your concerns and questions are being fed back and everyone is doing what they can to arrive at a speedy solution.

The main messages from us are:

  1. We are aware that there are some students who are thinking of leaving their courses. Please do not do this. Do not make any decisions yet about anything. Unfortunately we are all waiting for a decision from government on how Level 3 qualifications (that are not A Levels) will be managed and so the best thing is to wait until we have clarity on that before making any big decisions about the future.
  2. It’s important to keep in touch with your provider and keep learning if you can so that when you do go to HE you have no knowledge or skills gaps and that’s really important.
  3. QAA will be producing a communication later today which may help to explain current thoughts. You will find this on their website and on ours and we will get this out to you ourselves as soon as we can. Please check their website and Twitter feed for more details.
  4. QAA have further discussions today with Ofqual and DfE so we’ll update you as soon as we know anything.
  5. Keep checking with us via our website, www.oneawards.org.uk or via our social media channels @OneAwards and search for us on Facebook.

Keep positive and keep safe.

COVID-19 Access to HE Provider Update 2 - Tuesday 24th March 2020

Following our meeting with QAA at lunchtime today we wanted to keep you posted. Please be assured that your concerns and questions are being fed back and everyone is doing what they can to arrive at a speedy solution.

The main messages from QAA are:

  1. We understand that some students will find completing their courses difficult, in some cases impossible, and QAA and DfE are working to find solutions. It’s not easy because there are so many factors to consider so please bear with us – we’re all doing our best.
  2. Some of you have been asking why we can’t take the approach that Ofqual has with GCSEs and A Levels? That’s because there are no end examinations for example so the model is very different. Every Access to HE Diploma is unique and delivered and assessed in many ways. QAA and DfE are urgently working on a solution that works for everyone, this is really important because Access to HE is special, unique and unlike any other qualification so it needs a solution that is unlike any other.
  3. The other main things are: we know there are issues with students being able to work online, please keep in contact with providers even if only by email. Keep that dialogue going. Keep learning – even if completing assessments are near impossible to complete right now, keep learning.
  4. We’ve also been told that some universities are offering unconditional offers. There is actually a moratorium on changing any current offers for at least two weeks so, if you’ve received a conditional offer previously and it’s been changed to unconditional, please let us, QAA and DfE know straight away – contact details can be found on our website or simply Google them.
  5. We’ll keep posting updates as and when we know anymore – please share on social media – spread the word.
  6. Stay focused, stay positive and, above all, stay safe.

COVID-19 Access to HE Provider Update Tuesday 24th March 2020

As planned, All AVAs met with QAA yesterday lunchtime and passed on our concerns about ensuring fairness and equity for students in light of the challenges faced by many Access students in continuing their studies remotely and the decision about A Level grading judgements. We also highlighted questions about timeframes and progression to HE.

QAA subsequently met with DfE representatives and the following QAA statement was issued last night:

Assessments: We have explained to DfE that our current guidance to providers and Access Validating Agencies has focussed on adaptation to allow students to complete the final units on their programmes of study. We highlighted that since this model was put forward, there have been significant concerns around whether students will be able complete at home (for many reasons) and whether our current model, when compared to A Levels predicted grade model (released on Friday) allows for fairness in relation to learner outcomes.

There are ongoing discussions between awarding organisations who offer vocational and technical qualifications and Ofqual. DfE officers are talking to Ofqual a later today to gauge progress in terms of what approaches may emerge.

Obviously, what is paramount for our Access to HE students is that they need to be supported to progress to HE. We will be discussing potential models for assessment further with DfE tomorrow. The meeting is set after our daily catch-up so we will email you with a further update tomorrow.

Funding: We discussed with EFSA possible funding implications with ‘unconditional offers’, contingency plans etc and DfE officers are currently waiting for a response from the Student Loans Company about contingencies. Further details to follow.

One Awards will continue to do everything we can to support you and your students at this time and to provide information to help you as soon as it is available. All options are being considered in light of the wide range of extenuating circumstances students are facing. We are meeting with QAA every day and voicing the concerns and worries of providers and students, seeking to find solutions as soon as possible.

COVID-19 Access to HE Provider Update - 23rd March 2020

We understand that the current unprecedented circumstances present a wide range of challenges for providers in supporting Access to HE  students and that this will be a very worrying time for everyone. 

We fully appreciate that individual student circumstances will vary and we are working with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to agree solutions which are fair and equitable for all students, avoiding systems which will disadvantage students with particular challenges. We received proposed measures from QAA on Friday and these will be fully discussed during a meeting today. 

We will provide further guidance for providers later today and post updates on our website for providers and students. Please rest assured we are doing everything in our power to minimise the impact on our providers and students at this uncertain time. One Awards staff are working hard to ensure that information is gathered and shared as soon as we can.

Please keep checking our website for more details and follow us on Twitter for the very latest updates quickly, @OneAwards, or search for us on Facebook.”

https://www.accesstohe.ac.uk/en/contact-us/faqs/coronavirus-(covid-19)

COVID-19 Access to HE Provider Update 2 - 20th March 2020

20th March 2020 Date of publication

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 so we will endeavour to support you and minimise the impact on providers and students as far as possible. Please use email for contact with us wherever possible. Emergency calls may be made to the office (0191 5186550) and you will be diverted to a mobile phone, please leave a message and someone will get back to you.

Moderator Sampling Visits:

We will be undertaking all communication and sampling remotely and hope to use the timeframe already agreed as the basis for the remote sampling plan, but we will be as flexible as possible and take account of any revisions you have made to your assessment timetable. Please find attached guidance for providers on arrangements for the remote sampling process and a copy of the Remote Sampling Plan template. Your Lead Moderator will be in touch with you soon to discuss the timing, scope and sampling strategy for the remote sampling activities and they will be your key point of contact and source of support and advice from now on. I will be working closely with them as plans progress to ensure our approach is as flexible and light touch as can be justified, whilst maintaining standards and compliance with QAA requirements.

Guidance on arrangements for remote sampling - 2020

Access Moderation Remote Sampling Plan - 2020

Advice from QAA:

QAA held a remote meeting for all AVAs yesterday afternoon and will be holding daily surgeries from Monday 23rd March. This will provide an opportunity for AVAs to seek clarification about how adjustments can be made to the usual quality processes over the coming months. A range of questions were asked yesterday about modifications to assessment strategies and timescales which might be required, including the assessment of practical skills, use of technical equipment and possible extensions for Final Awards Boards. QAA will provide guidance on this soon. QAA are also in discussion with UCAS, the ESFA and DfE regarding the various concerns we all have about safeguarding the interests of Access student achievement and progression. They will collate an FAQ documentation to be shared with providers and so please forward any questions you have to your Lead Moderator and we will ask QAA for a response. We will provide regular updates as further information is published.

Quality and Grading Scheme Testing – 25th March 2020: This meeting has been cancelled. Once we have established our new operating systems and our service is running well I will review the opportunities to offer the session remotely. I will confirm any further arrangements in due course.

Final Awards Boards:

We will be planning to complete the Final Awards Boards remotely, if required. There is one due to take place on 3rd April and so we will develop the guidance and systems to accommodate this, which could then be used in June and July. Further information to follow.

Your Lead Moderator will be in touch soon to discuss your continency planning and implementation and arrangements for the sampling activity. However, if you have any questions at this time, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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