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The COVID-19 situation remains changeable but we remain available to support. We are following advice given in public announcements made by the government as well as guidance provided to us by our regulators.

This page provides information about how we are working and the most up-to-date information on delivery and assessment of our qualifications.

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Previous updates

Contacting us

We remain available on +44 (0)20 3994 9500 and awards.support@ymca.co.uk. However, to support our staff whilst they’re working from home, we have amended our opening hours to:

Monday: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Tuesday – Friday: 09.15 am – 5.00 pm

We are temporarily suspending availability of our support team on Saturdays.

If you have any concerns about the changes in our availability, please let us know.

Breaks from learning

YMCA Awards registrations are valid for 3 years and so it’s possible for your learners to take a break from their qualification (if that is in their best interests).

When learners return following breaks from learning, we expect our centres to complete checks to ensure they have retained their knowledge, skill and understanding – usually in the form of a professional discussion. Where you’re unsure that knowledge, skill or understanding has been retained, you should support the learner to recap the topic to get them back to the required standard.

We often request evidence of how you’ve evaluated and supported learners returning from breaks in learning so please ensure you document the process. If you’re unsure how to approach this, please get in touch.

Distanced delivery

YMCA Awards already has processes in place to support customers who wish to deliver some or all of the theory components for our qualifications remotely. If you wish to make changes to your delivery model to include more distanced learning, please get in touch so we can talk to you about your plans.

We offer a range of eLearning to support distanced delivery but would still expect you to complete checks on the learner’s knowledge and progress before putting them forward for assessment. Training Providers who do distanced learning well, ensure that learners have regular access to a tutor who can answer their questions (both in one on one and group settings). This can be achieved through regular phone calls or utilising web conferencing solutions like Skype, Teams or Zoom.

It’s important to remember that increasing your proportion of distanced delivery will likely mean learners take longer to complete their qualification.

We’re continuing to use our knowledge and experience to ensure the best outcomes for our learners whilst retaining the quality synonymous with our brand. Over the past few weeks, we have been reviewing the assessment elements of our most popular qualifications and developing additional resources to support distanced delivery and assessment.

Extraordinary regulatory framework

On 22 May 2020, Ofqual released a new regulatory framework, providing a framework to allow Awarding Organisations to make changes to their normal assessment and quality assurance arrangements.

Under this framework, we have been required to consider the most appropriate assessment mitigation (estimate, adapt or delay) to ensure that, where possible, learners can achieve their qualifications in the timeframe expected when they began the course. In making the decision whether to estimate, adapt or delay, our regulators expect us to continue ensure that we only award qualifications where this is a valid outcome based on available evidence.

For qualifications that confirm occupational competency – like our Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing – issuing a certificate is only a valid outcome where learners have demonstrated all the knowledge, skills and behaviours detailed in the assessment criteria. This is because issuing a certificate confirms that the learner is fully capable of safely performing a specific role in the workplace.

We have worked with other awarding organisations and CIMSPA to align our approach for similar qualifications. In some cases, this approach may be different to awarding organisations delivering outside our sector. This will be particularly true when comparing to graded qualifications or those that do not confirm occupational competence.

To clarify the arrangements for learners who would currently be achieving qualifications, Ofqual has written to providers; you can read Sally Collier’s letter to Heads of Centres here:

Read Ofqual’s letter to Heads of Centres (18 June 2020)

Deadlines

  • Adapted assessments can continue beyond 31 July 2020, until a stage where learners are able to access the usual assessment environments.
  • For qualifications where we have permitted estimation for an assessment component the deadline for submission of the estimated result with evidence is 31 July. This deadline is imposed by the extraordinary regulatory framework for any calculated results. The qualifications this deadline applies to are:
    • Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Gym-Based Exercise) (500/8269/3)
    • Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing (603/2767/4)
    • Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing 603/2767/4

Find out more about the extraordinary regulatory framework

Read more on CIMSPA's response to Covid-19

Temporary change to entry requirements for Level 3 Personal Training qualifications

Learners enrolled on Level 2 Gym qualifications who have been disrupted by the impact of Covid-19 and wish to continue to Level 3 Personal Training can be registered with us without meeting the usual requirement to hold a Level 2 Gym qualification.

We will allow learners to be registered on a Level 3 Personal Training qualification under the following arrangements:

  • the learner was registered on a Level 2 Gym qualification by 20 March 2020
  • to claim achievement for the Level 3 qualification at the end of the learner’s programme they will need to have completed the Level 2 Gym.

We will provide guidance to support you in delivering assessments for the Level 2 Gym while learners are on programme for the Level 3. This change is temporary and will be reviewed on 31 October 2020.

External assessment

We’re pleased to confirm that external assessments may now resume where:

  • government guidance on travelling and social distancing can be followed
  • learners are willing to attend face to face assessment
  • completing assessments will not breach any of the conditions outlined in our External Assessment Policy

We are continuing to work with our partners to fast-track existing plans to roll out a remote invigilation solution (eProctoring) which enables learners to sit online assessments using their own PC or laptop, with invigilation carried out via their webcam. We will not be able to offer this for free but we will negotiate the best possible price.

Practical assessment

We have now reviewed our qualifications and published the following guidance on permitted adaptations for our:

Please be aware, you will need to email awards.quality@ymca.co.uk at least 5 working days before completing remote practical assessment to support external quality assurance activity.

Use of video in practical assessment

Given that we expect the majority of practical assessments, where permitted to continue, to be carried out using video conferencing, we are temporarily suspending the usual requirements for centres to seek prior approval to use video evidence. This applies to all the qualifications where we have provided written guidance on permitted adaptations. It does not apply to qualifications where we have identified that practical assessment should be delayed.

When carrying out practical assessment remotely, using video conferencing solutions, you should support your learners to understand how to use the selected platform and should make a recording that can be made available for internal and external quality assurance. You should refer to our policy on Video evidence in practical assessments for detailed guidance which includes information on retaining evidence for both internal and external quality assurance purposes. Your YMCA Awards EQA will ask to sample video evidence where this has been used to make an assessment decision so you should ensure that this is available in an accessible format.

Qualifications which do not require adaptation

For some of our qualifications, the assessment is principally knowledge-based and assessed through completion of a learner assessment record (LAR) or other form of portfolio. These qualifications can continue to be delivered and assessed either remotely or in, some cases, within educational settings which learners are able to access.

There may be some instances where an activity provided in the LAR will require some adaptation which you should discuss as a teaching, assessment and internal quality assurance team to decide what is appropriate for your context and learners. For example, a learner presentation to their peers face-to-face may not be possible but this could be conducted using a video conferencing platform. Wherever adaptations of this type are made the following should be kept in mind:

  • does the assessment enable the learner to sufficiently demonstrate achievement of the assessment criterion the task is testing?
  • what additional guidance is needed to help prepare the learner for this adapted assessment?

View the list of qualifications that do not require adapation

First Aid

The Health and Safety Executive have recently updated their position on extension of First Aid certificates. Read the HSE’s statement here.

As a result of this update, we are aware that some of our approved centres (particularly in England) may wish to resume delivery and assessment of First Aid qualifications. To support you with this, we have produced guidance which includes advice from HSE, the Resuscitation Council (UK) and the First Aid Awarding Organisation forum. You are advised to keep updated on guidance from the HSE and Resuscitation Council as the situation regarding first aid practice and training continues to evolve.

You will need to carry out a risk assessment as part of your planning to deliver First Aid qualifications during the current situation and as a consequence of this may find that you need to invest in additional equipment including manikins and face shields so should factor in the cost of delivery of these qualifications.

Qualifications requiring delay

In most situations, our qualifications can continue to be delivered online and many assessment elements can be carried out by learners at home. However, some practical assessments cannot be conducted because to do so would breach government guidance on social distancing and restrictions on gatherings of people.

Wherever possible we have identified adaptations to practical assessments but there are cases where the adaptations required would undermine the purpose of the assessment; the learner would not be able to demonstrate the required skills and their achievement would not be sufficiently comparable with the learners who have achieved the qualifications without such adaptations.

View the list of qualifications for which achievement must be delayed until practical assessment can take place in the usual way.

Additional notes on delayed assessments:

  • There may be some educational or work settings where conduct of the assessment in the usual way is possible. Please consider the measures taken in your own setting to limit the spread of Covid-19 in conjunction with government guidance when planning and carrying out practical assessment. It would be advisable to carry out appropriate risk assessment.
  • Guidance on social distancing, travel and gatherings of people varies across the nations of the UK, and outside the UK the situation may be very different, so you are advised to act in accordance with the situation in your geographical location.

External quality assurance activity

We have taken the decision that all external quality assurance activity will be completed remotely until further notice. This remains in line with our external quality assurance policy and we don’t expect this to negatively affect the support we can offer during the current period. Remote external quality assurance activities can include review of:

  • learner assessment evidence (including video evidence of practical assessments)
  • internal quality assurance records
  • staff training and standardisation activities
  • centre policies and procedures
  • learner progression.

We are aware that there is a possibility you may not be able to provide learner evidence and associated documentation if this is stored at a location you are currently unable to access. Where this is the case, we will work with you to agree a way forward.

Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to accept claims for achievement without sufficient evidence to sample but we will make whatever adaptions to our usual expectations and requirements that we can, without compromising standards.

If you require external quality assurance activity to be completed, please email awards.quality@ymca.co.uk. Alternatively, we will contact centres where we identify external quality assurance needs to be completed as a result of claims submitted on Parnassus.

Certificates

We do not expect to be able to print or dispatch certificates until restrictions on travel and work are lifted. We will continue to issue electronic certificates and contact providers as these are published.

Recruiting learners

A key part of each of our centres’ operations is recruiting learners on to our qualifications. We understand that many of our customers are already feeling the impact of COVID-19 in this area and want to do what we can to help with creative and practical solutions.

Earlier this month, we communicated price changes from 1 August 2020 and an immediate 20% reduction in the fee for our eLearning bundles. We have now reviewed our minimum spend requirement and will not be enforcing this for the current academic year.

Future updates

We will continue to provide updates each week to make sure you are well informed of arrangements. 

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