Alternative Assessment Arrangements for NOCN Qualifications 2020/21 - Updated 29 March 2021

29th March 2021 Date of publication

NOCN is pleased to announce further information, support and guidance on the alternative awarding arrangements in place for learners who have been affected by the disruption to education.

On 24th March 2021, Ofqual announced the introduction of the VTQ Contingency Regulatory Framework. The introduction of the framework follows the consultation on the alternative arrangements for the awarding of qualifications for the 2020/1 academic year. The framework confirms that: Where a qualification is license to practice, or where it signifies occupational competency, assessments for the qualification must continue to be delivered as normal or in line with the adaptation guidance provided by NOCN. These are referred to as Category A qualifications. Category A qualifications must continue to be delivered as normal, or through the adaptations available. Where assessment cannot be accessed, it will need to be delayed until a time when it can.

Where a qualification is important for learner progression to further education or employment, or where it is possible to safely award an assessment without the need for the assessment itself to take place, assessment should continue as normal, or through adaptations, and where not possible, centres can consider the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade. These are referred to as Category B qualifications. Category B qualifications must continue to be delivered as normal, or through the adaptions available. Where assessment cannot be accessed, centres may be able to make use of a Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) to allow learner completion.

NOCN can now confirm further details around the requirements and process of the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade by centres for one or more of their learners.

Further Guidance Around Teacher Assessed Grades

To help support centres in their understanding of Teacher Assessed Grades, NOCN has produced a guidance document, which provides further detail on:

  • What a Teacher Assessed Grade is and how it can be used.
  • What evidence Tutors/Assessors must use to determine a TAG, including our expectations around minimum evidentiary thresholds.
  • The internal quality assurance processes which must be followed and how evidence must be recorded and stored.
  • The responsibilities of the Head of Organisation, including the requirement of an internal sign-off procedure for TAGs before submission to NOCN.
  • The process of how TAGs can be requested and how they will be submitted to and quality assured by NOCN.

Please click here to download the NOCN Approach to Awarding in 2020-1 – Guidance for Centres document.

Considering the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade

If your Centre is considering the use of a TAG, please ensure that all applicable staff members read through the guidance produced by NOCN, to ensure that they are aware of their role and responsibilities. NOCN has produced a diagram which centres can use to aid their thinking around the use of a TAG and whether it is appropriate or applicable for their learners. Please click here to view.

If, following consideration of the NOCN guidance and individual learner scenarios, your Centre is considering the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade, you will need to complete and submit the NOCN Teacher Assessed Grade Expression of Interest Form to NOCN.

The completion and submission of the form does not mean that your Centre can immediately begin determining TAGs for your learners. Rather, it will inform NOCN of your intention to use TAGs so that this and your Centre’s individual circumstances, can be discussed by you and your External Quality Assurer to ensure that TAGs are applicable and appropriate.

Functional Skills Update

Functional Skills TAG applications will remain in place until 31 August 2021 when the VCRF expires. Only learners you expected to be entered for assessment between 1 August 2020 and 31 August 2021, who are deemed to be eligible, with suitable evidence to support a pass grade should be put forward. TAGs will only be available where assessments cannot be delivered through the adaptations that have been put in place.

The TAG approach will replicate, as far as possible, the on-demand principles currently adopted for the majority of Functional Skills testing. Therefore, we will operate an approach which enables centres the opportunity to access the adaptations in place as well as the usual face to face assessment option. Centres should select learners for a TAG in line with the eligibility criteria, gather appropriate evidence, complete internal standardisation and enable NOCN to complete quality assurance activities and issue results in a timely manner. For more information, view the Skills for Life bulletin update.

Registration of Learners for FSQs

Any learner expected to receive a Teacher Assessed Grade must be registered with NOCN. If you are considering the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade for a L1 or L2 Maths, Reading, Writing or ICT examination, please register your learners now with a run start date of 31/08/2021. This should be on a separate run to learners who are intending to complete their examination. If it is determined that there is insufficient evidence to determine a TAG, NOCN will facilitate the issue of an examination paper for no extra charge than the initial registration fee.

Covid-19 Hub Refresh

The Covid-19 hub of our website has been refreshed to include:

A further update on the categorisation spreadsheet, detailing which NOCN qualifications are in Category A and Category B. This has been updated on 29th March with some minor changes. This can be viewed here.

Adaptations to assessment, including the latest sector statements, can continue to be viewed here.

Register Now for Centre Webinars - Further Update on TAG Support

Centres can continue to contact NOCN with any questions they may have regarding the awarding arrangements for 2020/21. Please continue to contact our Quality Assurance Team at or if you are a One Awards Centre.

To further support centres, NOCN is holding webinars exclusively for NOCN and One Awards centres to talk through NOCN’s guidance and expectations around awarding assessments this academic year. If you are interested in attending, please register your attendance using the links below:

Link to information on NOCN Group website

Information for NOCN Centres related to Ofqual announcement 25 February 2021

Ofqual has published the outcome of their recent consultation on ‘Alternative Arrangements for the Award of VTQs and other General Qualifications in 2021’.

NOCN recognise the need for detail, and will provide further information as soon as possible. In the meantime, please follow the link below to our first information update on the following:

  • Which of our qualifications are in and out of scope
  • Our updated approach to adaptations at both qualification and assessment level
  • Information on our general approach to alternative arrangements

How will we support you?

  • Dedicated inbox for NOCN centres on any queries regarding arrangements for 2020/1:  
  • One Awards centres please email: 
  • Remote Invigilation (where applicable)
  • Webinars, we will host a series of webinars over the coming months
  • Streamlined processes for Teacher (Tutor) Assessed Grades (TAG)
  • Dedicated Alternative Arrangements webpage linking to supporting guidance and resources

We will work in partnership with you to support learner progress, and keep you updated on the latest developments from Ofqual.

For more information please click here

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