These initially applied to General Qualifications such as GCSE, AS and A level qualifications and was mainly due to the reduction in teaching time caused by the pandemic.

Following on from this, on the 25 February, the Government announced the policy and scope of awarding vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) such as those awarded by RSPH, in 2021.

It was confirmed that:

  • Alternative arrangements to written exams (similar to those being proposed for GCSEs, AS and A levels) are needed for those VTQs and other general qualifications most like GCSEs, AS and A levels. Many of these were subject to calculated results last summer, and it is likely that some form of teacher assessment will be most appropriate.
  • Assessments for on-demand qualifications, such as Functional Skills or ESOL Skills for Life, can go ahead if in line with PHE guidance. Where learners are unable to access FSQ assessments, an alternative method of awarding these qualifications is needed to ensure these learners can progress
  • Where qualifications are used to demonstrate occupational or professional competency or proficiency or to gaining a licence to practice are necessary, then assessments for these qualifications should continue when this is possible, subject to PHE guidance. 

As a result of Government policy, our regulator Ofqual is currently consulting on new regulatory arrangements for Awarding Organisations. These arrangements are titled:

The Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF)

The intention of these regulatory arrangements is to enable AOs to be sufficiently flexible to support as many learners as possible to complete qualifications, whilst still retaining the integrity of their qualifications.

For qualifications needed for further study or employment, the framework enables AOs to:

  • Make awards when exams do not take place and/or not all internal assessments have been completed
  • Determine the most appropriate approach to awarding based on their qualification design and delivery
  • Determine what the minimum assessment evidence should be, so that valid and reliable qualifications are awarded. This should include consideration of completed assessments.


The VCRF groups' vocational qualifications into three categories:

Category A: Occupational qualifications/ Qualifications used as a Licence to Practice/Professional qualifications

Category B1: VTQs/Other General qualifications, most like GCSEs, AS and A levels, which are important for progression to further/higher study or employment, including Applied General qualifications, Tech awards, Core maths.

Category B2: VTQs that are important for progression to further/higher study or employment, but which include some assessment of occupational skills, such as some Tech levels and other VRQs.

These are similar to the categories of qualifications used by Ofqual at the start of the pandemic.

Category 1– Qualifications where the primary use is to progress to further and higher education

Category 2 – Qualifications where there is a mixed-use – to progress to FE, HE or employment

Category 3 – Qualifications where the primary use is to provide a License to Practice/access to a profession or a certificate of occupational competency 

All RSPH qualifications were assigned to category 3, either by RSPH or by Ofqual, following a review of the categorisation of all qualifications by all Awarding Organisations. So all RSPH qualifications will now be assigned to Category A.

Assessment and Awarding of Category A qualifications

The VCRF stipulates that for Category A Qualifications:

  • Results can only be awarded when assessments (exams or internal assessments) have taken place
  • Assessments may be made available as normal or with adaptations
  • Some assessments may be delayed where necessary to comply with public health guidance

The general guidance to our Centres is to continue as you have been doing since February / March 2020.

Examinations will continue to be provided by RSPH on demand. Centres should ensure that public health guidelines, such as social distancing and sanitisation, are complied with during examinations and delivery of courses.

Tutors can continue with assessment by workbooks and other coursework provided by RSPH or by centre-devised assessments approved by RSPH.

Adaptations previously allowed by RSPH, such as remote invigilation, can continue to be used as appropriate.

RSPH will approve additional adaptations requested by Centres if appropriate and make these available to other Centres offering the same qualifications. We are also continuing to roll out eAssessment for RSPH examinations. An up-to-date list of available examinations can be found on our website and our Centre News will keep you informed of developments.

RSPH staff will continue to be available to provide help, advice and guidance to Centres either by telephone (020 7265 7300) or email [email protected]