CCEA Regulation

CCEA Regulation as an independent function within CCEA, is responsible for the quality assurance of qualifications offered in Northern Ireland (NI).

- Compliance with regulatory requirement
- A guide to changes in GCSE grading

Direction for Vocational Qualifications assessment and awarding in Northern Ireland for 2021-2022 received from Department for the Economy (DfE)

CCEA Regulation has today, 6 September 2021, received direction from the Department for the Economy (DfE) to align Northern Ireland (NI) vocational qualifications regulation to the OFQUAL Revised Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF) for the 21/22 academic year.

The Ofqual revised Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework (revised VCRF) published on 6 August 2021, has removed the use of teacher assessed grades (VCRF Category B qualifications) and put in place a return to normal assessment practices with suitable adaptations in place. This means that vocational examinations and other assessments will go ahead in line with normal arrangements in 2021/22.

In addition, CCEA Regulation will consider experience from 2020-21 and the effects of the pandemic on centres and learners, and will ensure that NI specific needs are appropriately recognised by awarding organisations. Awarding Organisations have been contacted to advise of DfE direction and corresponding regulatory requirements, and so centres should hear shortly from awarding organisations regarding qualifications arrangements. In light of this direction, CCEA Regulation will be hosting a webinar to discuss the approach to vocational and technical qualifications 2021-22 and will notify an agreed date in the coming weeks.

Update on the approach to Vocational Qualifications assessment and awarding in Northern Ireland for 2021-2022

CCEA Regulation is working closely with the Department for the Economy (DfE) and other UK qualifications regulators to establish the arrangements for assessment and awarding of vocational qualifications during 2021-2022.

Ofqual has published the arrangements for a revised Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework (revised VCRF) on 6th August, which removes using teacher assessed grades (VCRF Category B qualifications) and puts in place a return to normal assessment practices with suitable adaptations in place.

Arrangements will be put in place by Awarding Organisations for the refreshed VCRF over the next few weeks in England. CCEA Regulation is working with DfE to establish the suitability of these arrangements for Northern Ireland, and will communicate how these arrangements will be taken forward following DfE Ministerial direction.

Annual Statement of Compliance

CCEA Regulation has worked with Ofqual and Qualifications Wales to agree a 3 country approach to the Statement of Compliance for 2021. Following our communication in May please see below for further details on the process for 2021:
Annual Statement of Compliance: Letter detailing further information on the process for 2021.

The Ofqual consultation ‘Arrangements for the assessment and awarding of vocational, technical and other general qualifications: 2021 to 2022’ was launched on Monday 12 July

The government’s intention is that exams and assessments will take place in the academic year 2021 to 2022. Since March 2020 awarding organisations offering VTQs have adapted qualifications where appropriate and are now well placed to take these adaptations into the next academic year.

Minimal changes are proposed to the VTQ arrangements, and the consultation focus is on the impact of the move away from teacher assessed grades and on minor updates to regulations to take account of current circumstances. This consultation will be open for 2 weeks starting on 12 July 2021 and ending on 26 July 2021 at 23:45.

This will allow decisions to be announced before the start of the next academic year, giving teachers and awarding organisations time to adapt their qualifications and assessments for 2021 to 2022 academic year. The consultation is open to anyone who may wish to make representations but may be of particular interest to: students of all types of assessments and external exams, their employers, parents and carers, their teachers and trainers, college and school leaders and others who have an interest, including further and higher education providers.

The consultation documents can be accessed at the links below:

Gov.uk website: ​Arrangements for the assessment and awarding of vocational, technical and other general qualifications

PDF: Arrangements for the assessment and awarding of vocational, technical and other general qualifications
PDF: Vocational and technical qualifications contingency regulatory framework, COVID-19 Conditions and Requirements
PDF: Vocational and technical qualifications contingency regulatory framework, COVID-19 Guidance

CCEA Regulation, Ofqual and Qualifications Wales announcement regarding the Annual Statement of Compliance 2021

CCEA Regulation, together with Ofqual and Qualifications Wales, have outlined the high-level approach to the annual statement of compliance process 2021. We anticipate opening the window for the annual statement in the autumn and as in 2020, we are adopting a 3-country approach which means awarding organisations will complete one statement in a standard format agreed by the 3 regulators.

Please click here for more details:
CCEA Regulation, Ofqual and Qualifications Wales announcement: Annual Statement to your Regulator.

Ofqual Student Guide to Awarding - Summer 2021

Ofqual has published a new student guide for summer awarding. This applies to all GCSEs, AS and A levels, vocational, technical and other general qualifications regulated by Ofqual. Read more:
Ofqual: Student Guide to Awarding - Summer 2021.

Message to NI centres taking GCSE and A level Qualifications with non CCEA Awarding Organisations

The process as outlined by the JCQ guidance released to centres on 26 March (JCQ Guidance on the determination of grades for A/AS Levels and GCSEs for Summer 2021: Processes to be adopted by exam centres and support available from awarding organisations) for the English Awarding Organisations (AQA, OCR and Pearson) and EDUQAS will be extended to Northern Ireland centres taking GCSE and A level qualifications with non CCEA awarding organisations. This will also apply to the JCQ appeals process when finalised.
For those centres taking A level qualifications with WJEC, the JCQ guidance and arrangements will apply. Centres should therefore follow the JCQ guidance issued on 26 March (as above). This will also apply to the JCQ appeals process when finalised.

Please note the following in relation to the Centre Policy which is found on page 19 of the JCQ Head of Centre Guidance.

Centre Policy portability between UK jurisdictions
For centres located in a UK jurisdiction other than England, i.e. Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, and are entering candidates for CCEA/SQA/WJEC awards a Centre Policy, or equivalent, should already have been completed for the relevant awarding organisation. In these circumstances it is not necessary to complete a separate Centre Policy for Ofqual regulated qualifications provided by AQA, OCR, and Pearson, and the Centre Policy, or equivalent, previously submitted to CCEA/SQA or WJEC will be acceptable. It is only necessary for Heads of Centre to outline their approach where the requirements for Ofqual-regulated qualifications differ from those pertaining in other jurisdictions, for example the requirement of non-disclosure of grades determined by centres to students.

VTQ Guidance Summer 2021 for OCN NI and OCR

OCN NI and OCR have released their respective guidance for awarding vocational qualifications in summer 2021. The non-certificating FAQ Link for OCR provides further information for centres.

We will provide further updates as vocational awarding bodies release their guidance.

Ofqual publish qualification explainer tool for vocational, technical and other general qualifications

An explainer tool has been launched today that provides the contingencies and mitigations for the assessment and awarding of vocational, technical and other general qualifications for the remainder of this academic year 2020-2021. This includes contingencies and mitigations for all qualifications taken in Northern Ireland that are within scope of the Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework.

It can be found here: - Ofqual: Summer 2021 Qualification Explainer Tool

Regulatory arrangements for the awarding of vocational and technical and other general qualifications in 2020-2021

Following a technical consultation on the detail of a new regulatory framework – the VTQ Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF) – is now available. The decisions document and the VCRF conditions and guidance have been published today. These VCRF conditions come into effect at 13:00 on 24 March 2021.

In line with Minister Dodds’s direction, Northern Ireland will align with the VCRF conditions and guidance as this protects comparability and portability of qualifications taken by learners in Northern Ireland.

Ofqual have also published today a short technical consultation on a further proposed condition in the VCRF. This would put into effect the policy position on autumn assessment opportunities for learners who receive results in 2021 based on teacher assessed grades. This consultation is open until 7 April 2021.

How vocational and technical qualifications will be awarded in 2021

CCEA Regulation has been working closely with Ofqual on arrangements for awarding vocational and technical qualifications in 2021. Ofqual has published these arrangements which can be found here - How vocational and technical qualifications will be awarded in 2021. Please note that Functional Skills is not awarded in Northern Ireland.

CCEA Awarding Organisation issues guidance to Head of Centres

CCEA Awarding Organisation has issued a revised version of its GCSE, AS and A Level Awarding Summer 2021 Alternative Arrangements – Process for Heads of Centre.

Essential Skills Centre Guidance

Awarding Organisations offering Essential Skills NI qualifications have communicated with centres today with guidance on arrangements for 2021. View the relevant link below to access the centre guidance:

OCN NI Centre Guidance

City and Guilds Centre Guidance

Pearson have issued centre guidance directly to their NI centres today.

Ofqual announcement on the alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021

Today Ofqual announced their consultation decisions on the awarding of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021.

What the Ofqual Announcement Means for Centres in Northern Ireland.

Simon Lebus, the Chief Regulator, explains in this article how all qualifications will be awarded in summer 2021.

He also responds to the Secretary of State’s direction of 23rd February 2021.

Ofqual launch today their consultation on the detail of the VTQ Contingency Regulatory Framework. Centres offering these qualifications regulated by Ofqual are encouraged to participate in this consultation.

Ofqual announcement on how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021

Today Ofqual announced their consultation decisions on how GCSE, AS and A level grades will be awarded in Summer 2021.

Simon Lebus, the Chief Regulator, explains in the this article how qualifications will be awarded in summer 2021.

He also responds to the Secretary of State’s direction of 23rd February 2021.

Ofqual launch today their consultation on the general qualifications alternative awarding framework. Centres offering general qualifications regulated by Ofqual are encouraged to participate in this consultation.

Cancellation of Essential Skills assessments and examinations for Vocational Qualifications used for progression

On 22 January 2021, the Economy Minister announced the cancellation of Essential Skills assessments and examinations for vocational qualifications used for progression until August 2021. You can view the full announcement here - Minister Diane Dodds announces cancellation of vocational and Essential Skills exams.

CCEA Regulation will ensure awarding organisations put in place suitable alternative awarding arrangements that are reflective of this year’s particular circumstances. CCEA Regulation will work with the other regulators to ensure that clarity on the alternative arrangements is provided by the awarding organisations to centres as soon as possible in March 2021. For Essential Skills and other NI only qualifications, clarity on the alternative arrangements will be available by the end of February 2021.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Due to the Minister’s announcement on Monday 17 August, some material in this section will change. We will work to update as soon as possible.

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