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UAL Awarding Body - Process for awarding results in Summer 2020

Written by UAL Awarding Body
Published date 23 July 2020

Please note: This information only applies to pre-degree students and tutors completing or delivering UAL Awarding Body qualifications.

If you are a student with questions about Level 1, Level 2 and short course qualification results you may find this list of FAQs helpful.

If you are a student with questions about Level 3 and Level 4 qualification results you may find this list of FAQs helpful.

College and school closures this year have caused immense disruption to the lives of students and educators across the UK.

During this time, the education sector has been pulling together to limit the impact of Covid-19 on students as much as possible. There has been an intensive collaboration between government, qualifications regulators, colleges, schools and awarding bodies. This is to ensure the fairest and least damaging approach to results could be implemented this Summer.

The approach we have taken to results this year is in line with Ofqual’s Extraordinary Regulatory Framework. Different types of qualifications are being dealt with in specific ways under this framework. UAL Awarding Body qualifications are categorised as Vocational Technical Qualifications (VTQs) as they are structured and assessed differently to A Levels and GCSEs. The statistical standardisation approach – including any grading algorithms – used in A Levels and GCSEs were not used in UAL Awarding Body qualifications.

In the case of UAL Awarding Body qualifications, the use of robust evidence and the subsequent quality assurance process have strengthened the fairness of specific judgements made about individual students and groups of students. Anonymous adjustments have not been made without specific dialogue with centres and scrutiny of specific student assessment evidence.

A Levels and GCSEs have reverted to Centre Assessment Grades. Is that possible for UAL Awarding Body qualifications?

This Summer we asked tutors to produce Centre Assessment Grades (CAG) based on a wide range of evidence produced prior to closures on 20 March 2020. This included evidence from previous banked mandatory units and offered a high-quality approach to grading. This was an entirely new grade judgement produced specifically in light of the situation this year. There were significant guidance and flexibility to ensure teachers could access the maximum amount of reliable evidence in arriving at a grade.

Our model did not use algorithmic adjustments to Centre Assessment Grades to bring them in line with an expected or preferred pattern. We understand the frustration of students in situations where these Centre Assessment Grades have been overruled by an algorithm. Instead, we compared the Centre Assessment Grades provided by centres with the expected pattern of grades, and where there was significant variation asked centres to evidence why this variation was justified this year. In the vast majority of cases, this evidence was judged robust and Centre Assessment Grades approved. In a small number of cases where evidence was not sufficient, we asked centres to review and resubmit the grades initially presented, by mutual agreement based on the available evidence. Because of this, we are currently not in scope for a fallback to the Centre Assessment Grades produced prior to our quality assurance process. We will comply with any instructions from our regulators and government. We believe, however, that the process we have followed is more fair, valid and evidence-based than a fallback to Centre Assessment Grades which have not been scrutinised.

One of the great strengths of our approach is that we train and support teachers every year in understanding our grading standards. Teacher grading decisions always form the first part of our quality assurance process in normal years, supported by a robust moderation process. We believe this approach has reaped benefits this year as tutors submitted grades that were closely aligned to our standards. Our collaborative work with teachers still formed the cornerstone of our awards despite some significant challenges and adaptations owing to COVID-19.

The only exception to this approach is our Level 3 Applied General Diploma in Art and Design which is externally assessed under controlled conditions. A fair and robust set of grades has also been produced for this qualification, but because of the nature of its assessment approach, we are making retake opportunities available for this qualification this Autumn.

How we are producing results this year

UAL Awarding Body qualification grades are normally based on a final assessed unit that requires the production of a major creative project. College closures this year meant that students across the UK were left at different stages of completion and with wide variation in access to facilities and support. It was impossible to authenticate and compare fairly work produced in such varying circumstances.

Therefore this Summer, in line with the Extraordinary Regulatory Framework, we asked tutors to produce Centre Assessment Grades (CAG) based on a wide range of student evidence produced prior to closures on 20 March 2020. This includes banked evidence from previous mandatory units and offered a high-quality approach to grading.

The full detailed guidance we issued to centres to produce Centre Assessment Grades can be found in the documents Awarding UAL qualifications Summer 2020 and Applying a best fit approach to UAL qualifications.

Following the submission of these Centre Assessment Grades to UAL Awarding Body, we have undertaken a large-scale quality assurance process. Our External Quality Assurers have sampled grades and the evidence supporting them extensively, to ensure there is consistency and fairness in this process. The approach to sampling has been informed by risk-management and centres had no prior knowledge of which candidates would be sampled. Unusual trends or concerns about evidence have been addressed as part of the process.

Following approval of grades by our External Quality Assurers, all grades will finally be reviewed and approved by UAL Awarding Body’s Board of Examiners.

How this differs from our normal process

We’ve worked closely and intensively with our centres and regulators to ensure that results can be delivered this Summer. Although the process has differed significantly this year and presented new challenges, collaboration has always been a mainstay of our approach.

We believe that tutors’ deep knowledge of students’ work is an extremely valuable element in assessments in the creative subjects – especially when fully supported by training, quality assurance and assessment expertise from us as an awarding body.

This is why our normal process to ensure students receive fair and timely results involves carefully implemented judgments of centre staff being quality assured and sampled by our External Moderators. Unfortunately, Covid-19 disrupted our standard approach this year but we are pleased we have preserved the principle of professional collaboration in this extraordinary year.

Preventing bias and discrimination

Regulators, colleges, schools and awarding organisations are alert to the risk of bias or discrimination, especially where assessment judgements are made on a non-anonymous basis. To ensure against even unwitting bias and discrimination several mitigations have been put in place.

In May 2020, Ofqual published Guidance for Heads of Centre, Heads of Department and teachers on objectivity in grading and ranking. This has been widely distributed to those involved in the process.

Furthermore, UAL Awarding Body’s own guidelines insist that two separate assessors at each centre approve each student proposed grade based on the evidence. This then has to be further approved by the Head of Centre, expressly vouching for the objectivity of results and the absence of bias or discrimination.

Our External Quality Assurance process samples grades in order to monitor inconsistencies and contributes significantly to mitigating risk of bias and discrimination. Additionally, UAL Awarding Body is analysing live data around bias and discrimination to identify and act upon any unexplained patterns of results.

Finally, despite the limited scope for appeals this Summer, bias or discrimination remain valid causes for appeal and will be thoroughly investigated.

How results will be released

Our Level 3 and Level 4 qualification results will be released by colleges and schools on the 13 August 2020.

Our Level 1 and Level 2 qualification results will be released by colleges and schools on the 20 August 2020.

We are issuing separate detailed guidance to centres about this process and how to view results on our portal.

UCAS

Level 3 qualification results will be will be sent to UCAS in order to allow Universities and other providers to progress admissions decisions.

Results themselves are not visible to students on UCAS but confirmation decisions from Universities or other providers will be visible as released by UCAS. Please note that most of these decisions will not be visible to students until results day 13 August.

UCAS have produced a video explaining how they manage applications and results.

Appeals

Regulators and awarding organisations have sought to produce an approach to appeals that is fair while also avoiding the impact on students of long-term delays to results.

Therefore this Summer, appeals will not be considered on the basis of challenges to professional assessment judgements made in centres. Rather they will focus on whether the approved processes for this year have been followed correctly. The only exception to this is that bias and discrimination will also be valid grounds for an appeal in themselves.

This approach also takes account of the fact that, in this situation, there are no sources of more valid evidence on which to award grades in a way that balances fairness for individuals and consistency nationally.

Appeals must be submitted to us by the end of the day on the following dates:

For UAL Awarding Body Level 3 and 4 qualifications 26 August 2020.
For UAL Awarding Body Level 1 and 2 qualifications 2 September 2020.
Please see our Appeals policy for full details of what will qualify for appeal and how under the Extraordinary Regulatory Framework this Summer.

Retakes policy for 2020

In accordance with Ofqual’s Extraordinary Regulatory Framework which permits awarding organisations to adopt the most appropriate approaches to their qualifications, UAL Awarding Body will not be offering Autumn 2020 assessment opportunities for most of our qualifications where Centre Assessment Grades were produced. Our approach is informed by the fact that additional assessment opportunities would be impractical and burdensome for students and centres alike, and would not increase the validity or fairness of awards.

The following factors have been considered:

  • Additional Autumn assessment opportunities for these qualifications would require students to re-attend centres for a period of 2-3 months in order to complete an entirely new final major project. Centres would not be able to accommodate this with consistency or fairness.
  • This would place a disproportionate burden on centres and would have a significant impact on other learners still attending or commencing a UAL qualification this Autumn.
  • This timeframe would detrimental to student progression.
  • There continues to be a significant risk of further disruption to students throughout the Autumn.

An exception to this policy is our UAL Level 3 Applied General Diploma Art and Design (QN 603/1457/6). This qualification is 100% externally assessed, and therefore retake opportunities for failed candidates are routinely provided. Consequently, an Autumn 2020 assessment opportunity for students who received a Centre Assessment Grade is more manageable, fair for students and valid in terms of assessment evidence. UAL Awarding Body will work with centres to agree and publish details of assessment opportunities for this qualification.

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