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VCRF (Ofqual)

Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF)  updated 23 March 2021

Background

As a response to the COVID crisis, all exams due to take place in schools and colleges this summer were cancelled. Ofqual was tasked with establishing two temporary regulatory frameworks – one for General Qualifications (GQs) and one for Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQs). 

The frameworks were developed in consultation with stakeholders across the education sector on an almost unprecedented scale. 

The VTQ framework reflects that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach that would fairly recognise the 14,800 VTQ qualifications offered by over 160 awarding organisations. Ofqual designed the VTQ framework deliberately to be flexible, allowing each awarding organisation to operate in the best way to deliver grades to its learners for its own qualifications. You will see this framework referred to as the VCRF (Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework). 

On 25th February 2021, Ofqual announced their response to the January consultation and a second consultation on their proposed plans. Until notified further, these plans are in draft and will be subject to confirmation of the implementation of the VCRF (anticipated in early April).

For the avoidance of doubt, the VCRF overrides the previous framework (EERF) which will be removed and supersedes the ERF framework that covered assessments in the first COVID-19 closures.

Framework Period covered
RQF All assessments prior to 20 March 2020 and all out of scope qualifications up to 31 July 2020
ERF All assessments due to take place on eligible qualifications from 20 March 2020 to 31 July 2020
EERF This was intended to cover all assessments on all RQF qualifications during the 2020-21 academic year but will be replaced
VCRF This will cover all assessments that have taken place and are due to take place during the 2020-21 academic year (1 Aug 2020 - 31 Aug 2021)

What does this mean for AIM qualifications?

We have been asked by Ofqual to categorise our qualifications into different groups based on the qualification characteristics. The aim here is to allow for a similar approach to mitigation to be made to qualifications that have a similar dynamic and likely demographic of learner. 

We are currently reviewing these qualifications and agreeing the outcome. This information will be released on the website and emailed to centres early in March. 


VCRF Qualification Groups

The naming of each of the groups is quite confusing for those not immersed in this sector currently, you might see a group referred to by Ofqual and the government as Group A or Direction 2 or group B2a.  To try and alleviate some of this confusion, we will be using the following terminology to reflect the groupings.
 

 Category  Description  Proposed certificate plan
 Category A Qualifications which assess occupational or professional competency, proficiency, or act as a licence to practise, where it would not be safe to award these qualifications using alternative evidence. For these qualifications, as far as possible, awarding organisations will continue to make exams and other assessments available to learners, remotely or in person where it is safe to do so. 

 Category B

 Most like General Qualifications

Qualifications which are used for progression to further or higher study or into employment, where the issuing of results to learners should be prioritised.

It would include those qualifications most similar to GCSEs, AS and A levels. 
 

Awarding organisations to award results in a similar way to GCSE, AS and A-levels. 

Awarding organisations to issue results using alternative evidence when exams and/or internal assessments do not take place, and/or when learners cannot access the assessments. 
 

 Category B

 Qualifications with some occupational competence

Some Tech Awards, Tech Levels and other vocationally related qualifications are also used for progression into employment and so require the assessment of occupational skills or experience. Aspects of the qualification which require the assessment of skills or experience will continue.  Other areas will be awarded in line with the Most like GCSE, AS and A’level group.

 Category B

 Used for progression

Qualifications which are important for progression to further or higher study or employment, but which are different from GCSEs, AS and A levels.  We will allow learner assessments to continue remotely or in person, where it is safe to do so.  Where a learner is unable to access the remote or in person assessment, there will be eligibility to request teacher assessed grades (TAGs). The minimum evidence and expectation around this will be decided at qualification level and you should wait further guidance for your specific qualification.


There is a separate page for category A and category B to outline the plans and processes bespoke to that category. Where centres have approval to offer qualifications in more than one category, they will need to ensure they are aware of the requirements for each category.

In addition to the category A and B webpages, centres will be able to find qualification specific support in the subject pages – the qualification groupings match those in the qualification search choices. (This is being updated as we receive more information.)

TIPS

  • Within a subject area there will be qualifications in different categories so  be sure you understand which category your qualification is in.
  • Ensure you have the correct qualification title and QAN number
  • AIM have some similar qualification titles and old qualifications which have been replaced by new ones; the QAN number will avoid these being confused.
  • Both qualification title and the QAN number can be found in the introduction section of your qualification handbook (see example below). The QAN number is usually an 8 digit code for example 603/1527/1

Qualification grouping

Find out which category AIM propose your qualifications are in by downloading our spreadsheet (rev 1 April) and filtering this to your qualifications.

This information may be subject to change following professional body or regulatory guidance. Any changes will be highlighted following updates.

You will also be able to access this information, for all awarding organisations, on the Ofqual website (late March 2021).