DFE make BTEC exams announcment

Late yesterday evening, the DFE issued a statement advising schools and colleges that they could make a local decision about whether to continue with vocational and technical exams this month. Many of our members had practical assessments for BTEC Art and Design scheduled to take place between the 4th and 15th January. 

A DfE spokesperson said:

“In light of the evolving public health measures, schools and colleges can continue with the vocational and technical exams that are due to take place in January, where they judge it right to do so.

“We understand this is a difficult time but we want to support schools and colleges whose students have worked hard to prepare for assessments and exams where necessary. This may be particularly important for VTQs which require a ‘license to practice’ which can only be fulfilled through practical assessment, such as an electrician.”

“Schools and colleges have already implemented extensive protective measures to make them as safe as possible. We will continue to work with Ofqual, awarding organisations and other stakeholders to discuss the next steps and provide more detail on the way forward, including ensuring other students have a way to progress with as little disruption as possible.”

News reports focus on the reversal of the DFE’s position, but the statement from Simon Lebus, Interim Chief Regulator, Ofqual today emphasises the fact that the government has directed that exams can and should still go ahead.

“The government has announced that schools and colleges can continue with the vocational and technical exams due to take place in January where it is right to do so. This may be particularly important for vocational and technical qualifications which require a ‘licence to practise’, which can only be fulfilled through practical assessment.”


Michele Gregson, NSEAD General Secretary says:

“Only the day before, the DFE were insisting that these exams should go ahead. Now it is optional, at the discretion of centres.

This decision is being reported in the press as a ‘U turn’ and cancellation of all January exams. It is nothing of the sort. Once again, Headteachers and Principals are being asked to make impossible decisions with an announcement that only continues the confusion, and inevitably will mean that many students are disadvantaged. It is not clear what arrangements will be made for those students who are not able to sit formal assessments whilst others go ahead. This announcement compounds the uncertainty, confusion and 

This is a compromise that achieves nothing. We await further details from the Minister for Education when he addresses Parliament this afternoon (Wednesday).”