Portfolio evidence grading proposed to replace functional skills exams

A solution is being sought on how to test functional students currently on their apprenticeship including replacing it with portfolio evidence grading. 

It is now estimated that, across the UK, over 30,000 students taking their apprentice in different sectors, with a majority being from the health and care sector, are in limbo on when and how they are going to take their functional skills exams. This has largely been caused by the spread of coronavirus in the country, making their employers afraid to send them to testing centers due to fears that they might contract the virus and bring it with them.

The government has also been reluctant on reopening the testing centers to allow these students to do their functional tests in person. They have also cited the current restrictions in the UK and the spread of the virus in the country which has resulted in many places being locked, including schools.

Portfolio evidence grading proposal

A crunching meeting was held this week that included skills minister Gillian Keegan, awarding bodies, Ofqual and the Association of Employment (AELP) to find the solution to the current standoff between the apprentice students, their employers, examination bodies and the government. Keegan said that she was now committed more than ever to find a solution that works great for all parties involved.

One of the solutions that dominated the meeting was replacing the functional skills test with portfolio evidence grading. This would allow the students’ training providers to submit evidence such as the initial and on program assessments, marked mock documentation and evidence of teaching that would be used by the examining bodies to grade the students.

The students would, however, have to attend a professional discussion that would require them to demonstrate their skills by carrying out a remote sample to ensure that the grading is done fairly by the centers.

Ofqual confirmed that they had had talks about replacing the current system with a portfolio evidence grading, but could not indicate when the solution was expected to be rolled out.

Jane Hickie, the AELP managing director said that she was hoping that the solution was near to end the current frustration that has engulfed students and their employers. She also sounded the alarm that the ‘logjam’ of apprenticeship unable to complete their program was growing bigger.

The implementation of the program will involve the employment of technology to ensure that students are not able to cheat during their apprenticeship. This will involve technology solutions such as screen sharing, webcams, digital audio and tethered smart devices, a solution that has been implemented by Open Awards and Highfield successfully.


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