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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – support and guidance
What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?


COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called Coronavirus and was first identified in Wuhan City, China.


What is the current risk to the UK from Coronavirus (COVID-19)?


We are following government advice as to the risk of Coronavirus.


What are the symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?


Symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • feeling tired
  • difficulty breathing
  • high temperature
  • a continuous cough. 

For more information about symptoms, please visit the NHS webpages.


Which students will receive calculated grades?


There will be no provision for estimated assessment grades (calculated grades) this academic year. The award of the Access to HE Diploma will be made only on the work a student completes during their course of study.

 

Students who are finding it difficult to study where lessons, materials and/or assessments have been adapted and are worried it will affect their grades and/or completing the Diploma, what should they do?


Students have been advised to contact their course provider if they are concerned about any adaptations made to their course in year. As the course provider you may be able to offer additional support or tools to help them study.

 

Providers can adapt assessments and delivery, where necessary and appropriate, to:

  • support teaching and learning, and assist in mitigating any possible effects of previous or future disruptions to teaching, learning and assessment relating to the pandemic
  • make assessments as manageable and flexible as possible, for example to address the impact of compliance with social distancing or other public health guidance
  • safeguard against any future disruptions relating to the pandemic, such as local lockdowns or closure of facilities.

To make sure that grades are fair and not unduly affected by any adaptations, AVAs and providers will ensure that effective arrangements for quality assurance will be applied.

 

If there is a further lockdown (local or national) and a student feels the work they produce during the lockdown does not reflect their previous performance, what should they do?


Students have been advised if they feel that the work produced during a local or national lockdown does not reflect their previous performance, to speak to their course provider. AVAs and providers will have in place arrangements to deal with such extenuating circumstances.

 

To make sure that grades are fair and not unduly affected by any adaptations, AVAs and providers will ensure that effective arrangements for quality assurance will be applied.


A continuing student who started their course before 1 August 2020, feels the work that they produced during the national lockdown (March to July 2020) does not reflect their current or previous performance, what should they do?


Students have been advised that if the work produced during the national lockdown does not reflect their current or previous performance to speak to their course provider. AVAs and providers will have arrangements in place to deal with such extenuating circumstances.

 

To make sure that grades are fair and not unduly affected by issues relating to the national lockdown, AVAs and providers will ensure that effective arrangements for quality assurance will be applied.


A continuing student who started their course before 1 August 2020 and was unable to study and submit assessments during the national lockdown (March to July 2020), what should they do?


Students have been advised that if they were unable to study and complete their assessments during national lockdown to talk to their course provider about the best way to continue.

 

Options include:

  • making an application for extenuating circumstances
  • applying for an extension to assessment submission dates
  • a short pause* of less than four weeks - for example, if you are in self-isolation - this will not necessarily affect the planned end date of your course
  • a formal break or suspension in learning.

 

If the course is not publicly funded, the provider should discuss other options that may be available to the student.

 

Course providers should agree with their students the appropriate steps to be taken that will be based on both your and your student’s circumstances.


* relates to publicly funded provision in England.



A continuing student who started their course before 1 August 2020 had their assessments rescheduled by their course provider to be submitted at a later date because of the national lockdown (March to July 2020). What should they do if they feel their performance is affected by these changes?

 

Students have been advised that if the work was rescheduled and the volume of work is unmanageable to seek advice from their course provider who will be able to advise them about the options available to them. For example, this may include making an application for extenuating circumstances. To make sure that grades are fair and not unduly affected by the rescheduling of assessments, AVAs and providers will ensure that effective arrangements for quality assurance will be applied.


If there is a further lockdown which means a student is unable to study because they are a key worker/carer or now have additional commitments, what should they do?


Students have been advised to speak to their course provider about the best way to continue with their Diploma if they are unable to study.

 

Options include:

  • making an application for extenuating circumstances
  • applying for an extension to assessment submission dates
  • a short pause* of less than four weeks - for example, if you are in self-isolation - this will not necessarily affect the planned end date of your course
  • a formal break or suspension in learning.

 

If the course is not publicly funded, the provider should discuss other options that may be available to the student.

 

Course providers should agree with their students the appropriate steps to be taken that will be based on both your and your student’s circumstances.

 

*relates to publicly funded provision in England.



Can students apply for extenuating circumstances?


Yes. Course providers and AVAs already have in place procedures to allow students to identify extenuating circumstances that may affect their academic performance, should the current situation make studying difficult.

 

A student should discuss their specific circumstances directly with their course tutor.

 

Course tutors will be able to explain how to apply for extenuating circumstances.


Do I have to notify my AVA each time an application for extenuating circumstances is made?


You should speak to your AVA to agree the processes for extenuating circumstances during this time.


Can I apply for extenuating circumstances on behalf of my students?


If, as a course provider, you consider the academic performance of a whole cohort of students has been adversely affected and you are unable to manage the issues through your own extenuating circumstances processes/measures, your senior managers should speak to your AVA.


Can students apply for an extension to an assessment submission deadline?


Yes. Course providers and AVAs already have procedures in place to allow students to apply for an extension, should the current situation make studying difficult.

 

A student should discuss their specific circumstances directly with their course tutor. Tutors will be able to explain how to apply for an extension.


As a centre if it is not viable for us to reschedule assessments, what should we do?


You should speak to your AVA to discuss the options available to your students.

 

If is not viable for us to adapt the delivery of learning and assessment, what should we do?

 

You should speak to your AVA to discuss the options available to your students.


Can students apply for a break in learning?


Yes. Course providers and AVAs already have procedures in place to allow students to take a break in learning should the current situation make studying difficult. Course providers and students can agree to suspend learning. This allows a student to continue later with the same eligibility that applied when they first started their learning.

 

Publicly-funded courses in England and Wales already have provision for 'breaks/suspension in learning', or for a range of circumstances.

 

Guidance from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (for providers in England) and Welsh Government (for providers in Wales) has information about the options available.

 

Students have been advised to speak directly to their course tutor to discuss their individual circumstances. Course providers will be able to explain to students how to apply for a break in learning.


Students are unable to access the online lessons and materials, what should they do?


Students are advised to contact their course provider if they are unable to access online lessons and materials so that they can discuss the options available to them.


How will students' grades be quality assured and standardised?


To make sure that grades are fair, AVAs and providers have processes in place to ensure grades go through internal moderation, external moderation and standardisation. These quality assurance processes will take into account any extenuating circumstances identified. As part of the moderation process, AVAs may adjust the assessment grades of some assessments, upwards or downwards accordingly, to ensure that no student is advantaged or disadvantaged. 

 

In addition to the principles of quality assurance aligned to the QAA grading scheme, other quality assurance measures may also be applied.


Can students appeal their grades?


AVAs and providers have processes in place to support students who feel their grades during this period do not reflect their previous performance. Students have been advised to speak to their course tutor.

 

Your procedures to address representations and appeals will apply. Your AVA will be able to provide more information.


A student is currently studying GCSEs or functional skills alongside their Access to HE Diploma, what happens about these qualifications?


GCSEs and functional skills are regulated by Ofqual and we recommend that students speak to their course tutor or refer to the information produced by Ofqual.

 

 

A student was not due to finish their Diploma until after 31 July 2021, but their circumstances have changed which means they have more time to study - can they finish earlier?

 

Students have been advised to speak to their course provider to find out if it is possible for them to complete earlier. In some cases, it may be possible to complete some units of study earlier than planned which may mean students can complete their Diploma before their original end date.

 

In these cases, the Access to HE Diploma will continue to be awarded and quality assured according to the QAA grading scheme. In addition to the principles of quality assurance aligned to the QAA grading scheme, other quality assurance measures may also be applied.


When will course providers receive confirmed results from their AVA?


Confirmed results will be released to course providers after the Final Awards Board. The results will be released to you no later than the deadline for results to be uploaded to UCAS (it is estimated this will be around 26 July 2021). Providers will have arrangements in place to notify students of their confirmed results.


A student is not due to complete their studies until after 31 July 2021. What are the arrangements for the award and assessment of the Access to HE Diploma for them?


This year, the current guidance also applies to all students due to complete after 31 July 2021. Students and providers will be supported if advice from DfE or Public Health England means that adaptations need to be continued beyond 31 July 2021.