How Functional Skills Qualifications will be awarded in 2021.

There have been many changes and updates within the education sector in the last number of months due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

One of these involved Ofqual and the Department for Education and was a consultation exercise concerning exams and assessments that now cannot go ahead as intended.

However, there is now confirmation as to the awarding of these Functional Skills qualifications.

Ofqual has now published outcomes to assist both training centres and learners to continue to achieve their qualifications wherever possible during this challenging period (see the below link for further detail).

Alongside the above, Ofqual is creating the Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF). This framework will allow awarding organisations to be adaptable in their support of learners in their completion of these qualifications, whilst still maintaining the qualifications’ integrity.

There are now three ways learners for learners to access a result for a functional skills qualification:

  1. Assessments can continue to take place in person in a training provider, college, school, employer premises or alternative location, where it is safe for them to do so in line with public health guidance.
  2. Assessments can be taken remotely.
  3. Where neither of these options is possible, and learners need a result to progress, the grade can be awarded through Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs).

The flexibility regarding these qualifications ensures learners can continue to progress and not be impeded in any way. It also means that anyone on an apprenticeship can move on and hopefully secure future employment. Therefore learners who are now ready or are waiting to take their functional skills assessments can do so now.

As restrictions relating to the pandemic lift, more and more learners can be assessed at their school, college, training provider or workplace. Remote assessments will also continue.

Best practice for functional skills assessments and exams means they should be completed either in person or remotely. A TAG may be considered, however, if this is not possible.

At time of writing, awarding bodies are working in partnership with qualification regulators to agree on standardised methods and the minimum evidence requirements for TAGs.


Additional information is available here: 

How qualifications will be awarded in 2021 – GOV.UK (

Simon Lebus responds to the Secretary of State’s direction of 23 February 2021 – GOV.UK (

Consultation on alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021 – GOV.UK (

Awarding of functional skills in 2021 – GOV.UK (

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