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UAL Awarding Body - Covid-19 response and guidance

Written by UAL Awarding Body
Published date 27 March 2020

UAL Awarding Body has been working urgently with the qualifications regulators to agree a way forward for students and centres affected by closures.

Our primary aim is to safeguard the interests of students and centres. We want to recognise achievement, support learners to progress to their next steps in study or employment, and to ensure a fair and consistent approach.

Final major projects Spring/Summer 2020

Many UAL Awarding Body qualifications culminate in a unit requiring the production of a concerted creative project. This is usually a chance to showcase and celebrate the skills students have developed during their qualification, and the unit for which final grades are awarded to students.

Owing to the extended closures of schools and colleges it is clear that this approach to completing our qualifications will not be possible this year. Not only will many students lack access to facilities in a consistent way, but even for those able to complete projects their work will be produced in a variety of different circumstances. This makes it impossible for us to authenticate work and fairly compare standards in the reliable way required for high-quality regulated qualifications.

Instead, we are developing a grade estimation model based on previously completed work, and supported by quality assurance checks, to deliver the fairest and most consistent approach to results across the UK this summer 2020. We are advancing proposals with the qualifications regulators who must sign-off on any solution to ensure that it is fair and consistent. Our expectation at the current time is that final unit projects completed after school and college closures will not factor in grade decisions this year.

We realise that this will be hugely disappointing for many students and staff who look forward to this period. Covid-19 has caused unprecedented disruption and we must limit the damage of this situation on students and their future progression. Our aim is to do this in a way that reduces the strain on students, staff and centres, while maintaining confidence in these qualifications from universities and employers.

We will provide more details on the specific models we will use for each qualification, as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, we hope that those students who want to pursue their creative practice outside of school and college continue to do so. The ongoing development of a portfolio and a distinctive creative voice continue to be valued in education and employment in the creative industries. We will seek ways to support and encourage this once pressing work to secure results and the national standard are more advanced.

Why is this taking time?

After an initial focus on GCSE and A level, government agencies are working on the more complex area of non-GCSE and non-A-level qualifications. We have been developing detailed solutions with the qualifications regulator Ofqual, and the Department for Education.

Many Awarding Organisations are in this position. Vocational and technical qualifications are more varied in approach than GCSE and A Levels, so it is important that we all work together and with regulators to make sure no group of students is unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged.

The research and iterative creative work at the heart of our qualifications are a great strength in this situation. Now we, in consultation with our regulators, want to ensure that our proposals are consistent and fair when viewed as part of a national solution.

The approach agreed with Ofqual will also apply to qualifications regulated by CCEA and Qualifications Wales.

Advice for our centres

We will contact all centres directly as soon as possible with specific guidance for each qualification once the exceptional process for this year has been agreed.

Students taking UAL Awarding Body qualifications

If you are a student at one of our approved centres please continue to check our website and follow guidance from your tutors and staff at your school or college.

Our priority is to limit the impact of this situation on you. We are striving to ensure that your achievements can be recognised as accurately as possible. We are mindful that you may want to progress to Higher Education, the next level of study or employment. UCAS is also working with many stakeholders and government agencies to produce further guidance.

Events and training

All UAL Awarding Body face-to-face events are cancelled until the end of April, and we are reviewing those scheduled subsequently. Delegates will be contacted by us individually, so please await further contact from our events team regarding new arrangements for supporting you.

Online training and events will continue and increase in number, but may be subject to delay or rescheduling as we accommodate new requirements and ensure that centres can attend.

Covid-19 cases and closures

The scale of closures means we are no longer tracking individual cases of Covid-19 or closures. Instead, we will seek information directly from centres about any exceptional situations in which delivery of our qualifications has continued as normal (for example for children of key workers).

If you have any concerns or queries regarding the above, please email the UAL Awarding Body Quality Assurance and Enhancement team on quality.awarding@arts.ac.uk.

This page will be updated regularly over the coming days so please continue to monitor it for the most up-to-date information.