ASCL comment on Ofqual’s intention to fine NCFE

Kevin Gilmartin, Post 16 Specialist at the Association of Schools and College Leaders, responds to Ofqual’s announcement that they intend to fine NCFE for failure to develop valid question papers for its T-levels in healthcare, healthcare science, and science in summer 2022.
The decision by Ofqual to fine NCFE seems to be an appropriate response to what was a very distressing situation for students and their teachers. Hundreds of students had studied for these new qualifications, full of optimism for a successful result and positive progression to the second year of their T-level. Through no fault of their own they ended up failing the exam and it was up to the schools and colleges to pick up the pieces. Fortunately, many students were able to transfer on to a suitable qualification such as the BTEC in Health & Social Care and were then able to progress to further education or employment. 

“This sad situation offers a timely reminder of the absolute folly of defunding applied general qualifications, such as BTECs, before replacement qualifications have been tried and tested. The new government needs to take notice of this debacle and follow through on its promise to ‘pause and review’ the defunding process.