Many apprentices are struggling to move forward with their functional skills assessments as awarding bodies struggle to adapt assessments in the face of COVID-19.

FE Week has reported that some providers have described the situation as ‘heartbreaking’ as they cannot visit some of their work based learner to invigilate their tests, especially those who are in care and health sectors.

For some apprentices, this assessment is all that stands in their way of completing their programme. Calls have been made for Ofqual to revert to centre-assessed grades for these qualifications, however, the regulator has stressed that it is down to awarding bodies to come up with a solution.

Functional skills must now either be sat in the traditional manner, or awarding bodies are expected to adapt their assessment arrangements to lessen the impact of the pandemic. Adapted assessments aren’t easy though, as many apprentices are forced to work from home in line with guidelines and not risk travelling to test centres.

As a result, there is an estimate that thousands of exams may be delayed until Christmas, which is a worry for learners who are eager to complete their programme.

AELP Managing Director Jane Hickie said the delays are “due to a lack of access to workplace settings, learners working from home and some awarding organisations being behind the curve on being able to provide a technology solution, including a lack of proctoring”.

An Ofqual spokesperson reported that from August, awarding organisations have provided functional skills assessments “as normal” for the “majority of learners” and that over 17,000 “live” assessments have taken place.

With another lockdown looking to be on the cards, it’s time for awarding bodies to step up and sort these assessments, with a digital solution in place for these tests to continue. Hopefully, apprentices can get back to completing their assessments and programmes soon.

You can read more about our Smart VLE software – which comes preloaded with functional skills maths and English assessments here

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