Information about your qualification

In these unprecedented times, our priority has been to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our students and staff, whilst ensuring that teaching, learning and support continues. Supported by cutting edge technology and highly experienced tutors, we are confident that students will not be disadvantaged in their studies and will successfully achieve as planned.

Since the government took the decision to close Schools and Colleges and cancel summer examinations, the Department for Education, Ofqual, Office for Students (OfS) Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and all awarding bodies have been working hard to ensure that a clear, fair and consistent approach is provided to Colleges.

As we move into the summer term, we are able to provide clarity about how this will be done and what it means to students both in terms of short term and longer term. The following is an update of the approaches to assessment that awarding bodies have outlined to ensure that you will receive a grade for all your hard work during the academic year. In some areas the college is still awaiting final details of how some qualifications can be achieved.

Updates will be provided through this information as well as from your tutors. If you have any questions, please contact your tutor.

FE Students

+ A-Level and GCSE

All summer 2020 examinations for both GCSE and A-Level students have been cancelled. However, that does not mean that students will not receive a grade for all their hard work during this academic year and no student will be disadvantaged.

The Department for Education has set out how students will receive grades. This will be done by asking lecturers to estimate the grades that students would have got if there had not been any disruption to the teaching and examinations. To provide these estimated grades, lecturers will use a wide range of evidence, including classwork and homework, together with the results of mock exams and assignments. Awarding organisations will utilise this information to award a calculated result.

Results will be published on the normal results days in August 2020 and we will advise at a future time about how this will take place:

  • A-Level results day - 13 August 2020
  • GCSE results day - 20 August 2020

It is important to remember that lecturers cannot comment on the estimated grades, nor upon the grades that students will ultimately be awarded. Student results are decided by examination boards, who take into consideration the information that New College Durham staff have supplied.

Please follow the links below to a letter to all students, and a guidance document for students, parents and carers which explain how this will be done.


+ Technical and Vocational Qualifications

Technical and Vocational Qualifications such as BTEC, CACHE and City and Guilds.

We are absolutely committed to ensuring that you are able to achieve your qualification and receive a result that reflects the hard work that you have contributed during your time with the College. We are working with the latest government guidance to achieve this.

The clear expectation is that all learners enrolled onto these qualifications and expecting to complete their studies between now and the end of July are not disadvantaged. To enable the awarding of results, awarding organisations have been asked to put their qualifications into one of three categories. This will inform a decision from Ofqual that will allow us to support you to achieve your qualification. These are provided below with an explanation of what this means and how a final result will be provided.

  • Award of calculated result - Where possible awarding organisations will identify qualifications where a calculated result can be awarded. This will be done in the same way as GCSE and A-level. Calculated results will draw appropriately on a range of evidence, depending on the structure of the qualification. They may be based in part on teacher, trainer or tutor judgements of what result each learner would most likely have achieved had they been able to complete their assessments in summer 2020. Any centre assessment result will be based on a range of evidence held by the college. Depending on the structure of the qualification, the college may be asked to provide a centre assessment result for the whole qualification, or for uncompleted modules or units. There might be some instances where we are asked to provide a rank order of learners (as with GCSEs, AS and A-Levels). The awarding organisation offering the qualification will use any centre assessed result, combined with other relevant information, to determine the most appropriate calculated result. This will cover most qualifications where the intended outcome is progression to further study including both FE, HE and Apprenticeships.
  • Adaptation of assessment - Where it is not possible, or not appropriate, to award a calculated result, awarding organisations will encourage adaptations to be made to assessments or to delivery models (for example changing invigilation requirements or moving to remote moderation) as long as this does not undermine the reliability of the result and where assessments can still take place in line with social distancing guidelines, even though centre-based provision has been suspended.
  • Rescheduling of assessment - In some cases where qualifications directly signal occupational competence or function as a licence to practise, it may not be safe or meet employers’ requirements to do either of the first two options, and there may be no option but to wait until normal assessments can happen again.

The College is awaiting confirmation from all awarding organisations about which category your qualification will be placed in. Once we receive this, we will inform you via your teaching teams and they will explain the actions you will need to take.

If you have any questions, please speak to your course tutor.

Download Government advice document - click here.

+ Functional Skills

As with GCSE and A-Levels it is the government policy that assessments cannot proceed as planned this spring and summer given the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures that the government is taking to reduce its impact.

As a result, students who were due to undertake assessment for their Functional Skills qualifications will receive a calculated result. Calculated results will draw on a range of evidence, depending on the structure of the qualification. They may be based in part on teacher, trainer or tutor judgements of the result each learner would most likely have achieved had they been able to complete their assessments in summer 2020. Any centre assessment grade will be based on a range of evidence held by the college.

The awarding organisation offering the qualification will use any centre assessment grade, combined with other relevant information (such as marks for completed assessments in some modules or units), to determine the most appropriate calculated result. We are working with the awarding body to confirm what this process will involve, and we will communicate this once we know more.

Further details can be found here

+ Access to HE Students

The awarding organisations have agreed that they will use a similar method for the determination of a graded Access to HE Diploma to ensure parity for students who are planned to complete their Access to HE Diploma by 31 July 2020.

This will be done by using a combination of the grades that have already been achieved for assessments that have been completed and calculated grades for all remaining assessments that have submission dates after 20 March 2020. The calculated grade will take into account tutors’ assessment of the likely grade, as well as other factors such as prior attainment on course.

Further details are available on the QAA website and on Schoology. If you have any queries, please speak to a member of the course team. 



+ Apprentices

Parts of your apprenticeship will relate to the sections above where relevant e.g. technical and vocational qualifications. Likewise, functional skills for those of you that are studying these this year as part of your apprenticeship programme.

Ofqual and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education are still finalising details regarding End Point Assessment for those apprentices on an Apprenticeship Standard. We will advise of these details once they are made available.

We appreciate many of you are currently furloughed and we are liaising with your employer on a regular basis. We encourage you to actively engage through the various communication channels available e.g. Schoology, email etc. to keep in contact with your Tutors and Skills Co-ordinators and continue to maintain progress towards completing your apprenticeship. Course leaders will be in touch to update you on arrangements for your areas.

For information if you are studying an apprenticeship at the College and have been furloughed by your employer, please contact your Apprenticeship Liaison Officer who can help you with any enquiries about your study. On 4 April the Government updated its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance to say that apprentices can continue to train while furloughed.

If you have any further questions about apprenticeships, please email Natasha Francis, Apprenticeship Manager:

+ HE Students

The successful completion of assessments are at the heart of your educational experience at New College Durham and provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned during the academic year whilst feedback you receive can help and support your future learning. We are making reasonable adjustments to enable students to complete their studies, for achievement to be reliably assessed and for qualifications to be awarded securely.

Assessments will continue and your module leader, where necessary, will have contacted you about those module assessments which require an alternative assessment.

Our priority in the current situation is to ensure that learning, assessments, and results are not adversely affected as a result of COVID-19.

Below are the measures we have put in place to support our HE students.

In making these decisions we have taken several things into account.

  • We do not want any student to be disadvantaged.
  • We want to be able to respond to individual circumstances.
  • We want to ensure that you are able to progress in your studies.
  • We will consider the evidence of achievement available to allow a decision to made in relation to student progressing to the next level or awarding a final foundation degree.
  • We will take into account the ability of individual students to demonstrate achievement of the outcomes of the course as a whole whilst ensuring they meet the required academic standard for the award.

We want to reassure you that there will be no disadvantage to your assessment as a result of our actions to respond to COVID-19.

Module Assessment, Progression and Award Boards will take into account evidence that programme learning outcomes have been met, overall performance of your course year group, your previous marks and any extenuating circumstances.

For students on Higher National Diplomas, Open University and Teesside University programmes, we are following the advice provided by our validating partners. Your Course Leader will be in regular contact with you about next steps.

Further details on the arrangements for assessment and Assessment Boards will be issued in due course.

+ Professional Qualifications

For students on professional programmes, such as the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), we are following advice from your regulatory bodies. Your programme team will be in regular contact with you about next steps. We are working with professional bodies to ensure that our arrangements meet their requirements and that your eligibility to join a profession is not put at risk.

Continuing to study

Whilst this current situation lasts, students need to continue to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding to help prepare themselves for their next level of further or higher education.

Some awarding bodies are building an early resit opportunity into their solutions. This would mean that a student who has not performed as well as they believe they could have may be given the opportunity to undertake a resit in the Autumn term. This will be based on the full content of the qualification.

It may not be possible for some vocational and technical qualifications to be completed with a calculated process and as a result some assessment may be deferred until the College reopens. If you are in this position, you will need to maintain your studies in readiness.

Continuing your studies to ensure you complete the full qualification will give you the best possible changes of success in the next level of their education. As well as being prepared for any resit opportunity should they need to undertake this.

All students are required to continue to work towards the completion of their assignments, supported by their lecturers.