Statement on the Secretary of State’s latest direction to Ofqual

Commenting on Gavin Williamson’s ministerial direction on vocational technical qualifications and functional skills, Tom Bewick, chief executive of the Federation said:

“The Federation was clear from the outset that we had some fundamental difficulties with a blanket-wide approach to adapting and estimating vocational technical qualifications, including estimation of functional skills.

“We support such an approach where the VTQs operate more like GCSEs and A-Levels in terms of delivery; but this can’t be said about the vast majority of other vocational qualifications which will require a significant amount of work on them to continue to meet high standards of validity and reliability.

“We are pleased that Ofqual has taken some of our concerns on board, by moving away from a one-size fits all approach (which is the model adopted for the cancelled summer academic exams). Of course, we support the principle that learners should not be disadvantaged by the effects of Covid-19.

“But equally, we think the model outlined today is hugely complex and will be extremely resource intensive for awarding bodies. Moreover, the timescales for AOs to respond rather assumes it is business as usual in the sector and they have not, in some cases, already furloughed key staff. We call on government to make a specific fund available to support AOs to access the relevant expertise they will need.

“I wrote to the Chief Regulator on 8 April and raised these points. It is extremely disappointing that there is no acknowledgement of the additional impact and workload this will create for AOs, and the potential for unfairness to learners as a result of the estimation process.

“The other big disappointment about today’s announcement is the fact the Secretary of State has effectively used the imposition of an Extraordinary Regulatory Framework, to undermine the independence of Ofqual, in terms of the role they have, reporting to Parliament, to ensure public confidence in qualifications in England.”


You can view the statement here.

You can monitor the latest developments on COVID-19 and the industry’s response here.