Awarding of OCN London qualifications in 2020-21 (Updated)


Updated 06/04/21

Implementing the new Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF)

The information on this page applies to arrangements for the award of Ofqual Regulated qualifications in 2020-21. If you are delivering Access to HE Diplomas please refer to separate QAA guidance.

New arrangements for the award of Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQs)

Following the outcome of the Ofqual January consultation on ‘Alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021' the Government announced their policy position on the arrangements for awarding of qualifications in 2021. In response, Ofqual drafted, published and consulted on a new framework for awarding in 2021, called the ‘Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF)’. The outcomes of this consultation were published on 24 March. OCN London has now released our Guidance for Centres on Approach to Awarding Qualifications in 2020-21.

The VCRF provisions require that different approaches be taken to three broad groups of vocational and technical qualifications which sit in two categories.

Category A

Qualifications that test occupational or professional knowledge and/or skills, or proficiency in a skills area. They are used to enter directly into and through employment. They are taken in schools, colleges and other settings and assess occupational skills. These qualifications should only be awarded on the basis of assessments completed by the learner; it is not possible to award these qualifications safely, reliably, and validly without the knowledge, skills, and behaviours having been demonstrated and assessed. They cannot be awarded on the basis of Teacher Assessed Grades. Some of the assessments that learners take may be adapted so that they can take place in line with public health guidance. Some assessments may have to be delayed if it is not possible to adapt them in a way that complies with public health guidance without undermining confidence in the qualification.

Category B

Category B has two sub-categories:

Sub-category B1

Qualifications that are most similar to GCSE, AS and A levels and used for progression to further and higher education. They are taken only in schools and colleges. They are assessed through external exams and may be approved for performance tables. For these qualifications, assessments will not continue as normal and the expectation is that awarding organisations will put in place similar approaches to awarding as those put in place for GCSEs, AS and A levels, where possible and appropriate.

Sub-category B2

Qualifications that are not similar to GCSEs or A levels but may be used to progress to education or employment. They are taken in schools, colleges and other settings. They are likely to be smaller than GCSEs/A levels, tend to be at lower levels and don’t always follow an academic year cycle. Learners can sit the assessments when they are ready because the assessments are available on-demand or because they are internally assessed. For these qualifications, assessments should continue where safe to do so, remotely or in-person. Where assessments can take place, awarding organisations can continue to make adaptations to assist in mitigating the impact of the pandemic as they have done since September 2020. Where learners are ready to sit assessments but are not able to do so, awarding organisations are permitted to issue results to learners using alternative evidence to arrive at Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs).

The key difference between Category A and B is that qualifications in Category A cannot be awarded on the basis of Teacher Assessed Grades, either fully or partially. Where it is not possible to adapt assessments for Category A qualifications and still award the qualification safely and reliably, the assessment and therefore the award of the qualification would need to be delayed until such time it is possible and safe to do so.

What happens next?

We have allocated each of our qualifications to one of the categories above and this information is available in the Ofqual 2021 Qualification Explainer Tool.

Our guidance for centres identifies the assessment awarding approaches we will be implementing for summer 2021 and how we will support you in applying the requirements for the OCN London qualifications you are delivering.

The following characteristics helped us to determine the correct category for our qualifications:

  • Our qualifications are available to and delivered in a wide range of settings, not just schools and colleges.
  • Almost all of our qualifications are internally assessed and we do not therefore assess through written exams or other forms of external assessment. 
  • The assessments are developed by those delivering the qualifications in accordance with the qualification specification and assessment guidance. The assessment therefore falls within the category of ‘on demand’ so centres are not tied in to set dates/times when the assessment must take place.
  • Most of our qualifications are shorter than GCSEs and A levels.

The majority, although not all, of our qualifications have been allocated Category B2. For qualifications that sit within this group it is the government’s policy that assessment continues in line with public health measures, but with alternative arrangements available for those who cannot access the assessments.

For most of our qualifications the flexibility of the assessment strategy means that any necessary adjustments can be made within the parameters of the published qualification specification and this has enabled adaptation to take place this year where it has not been possible to carry out assessments in an educational setting.

What should I be doing now?

Read the OCN London Guidance for Centres on Approach to Awarding Qualifications in 2020-21 which provides information for the assessment and award of our qualifications this year. These arrangements are applicable to learners registered on OCN London qualifications between September 2020 and 31st August 2021.

Please make sure that all learners have been registered with us.

What is happening with quality assurance?

External Moderation continues to be held remotely. We continue to make provision for centres to upload assessed work and other related materials ahead of planned dates for external moderation. If you have a course where assessment and internal moderation has been completed, or a longer course where this has been done for a number of units, please let us know so that we can arrange for external moderation to be carried out as soon as possible.

What support is available?

Since the autumn we have been holding regular online meetings to discuss plans for delivery and assessment during the current year.  These meetings will continue as we implement the new arrangements under the VCRF to enable learner achievement this summer. In addition, we are planning to hold webinars that will enable us to share information in a wider forum. These webinars will be bookable via the website.

Who do I contact for advice and support?

If you have any questions or would like to speak with us about anything relating to your delivery and assessment of OCN London qualifications, please contact the Quality and Standards team at

Alternatively, you can contact the Business Support team on 020 7278 5511 and they will be able to direct you to the right person to deal with your query.

You will also find the names of all our staff members, their email addresses and their direct lines on this website.

We know that many of you are delivering and assessing remotely and facing the challenges of working in isolation. We are here to support you through this crisis so please do not hesitate to get in touch so that we can provide guidance for any particular situation you may be faced with, including now anything relating to the planned move back to on-site delivery.


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