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Whilst the continuing pandemic has led to many assessments being cancelled, on the 25 February 2021, the Government announced the policy on awarding vocational and technical qualifications in England in 2021 which included confirmation that:

  • Where qualifications are used to demonstrate occupational or professional competency or proficiency, the assessments for these qualifications should continue when this is possible, subject to PHE guidance.

The announcements made on 25 February 2021 are summarised in this article from Ofqual, the regulator of qualifications in England: 

How qualifications will be awarded in 2021

For some qualifications, we have adapted practical assessments to enable centres and learners to minimise barriers associated with the impact of Covid-19. These adaptations are published on our website here. We have not made adaptations to assessments for Sports Massage qualifications because learners need to be able to demonstrate the range of practical skills required for the role.

We have also provided guidance on situations where assessment should be delayed, particularly to take government and local restrictions into consideration. Reasons to delay assessment - particularly practical assessment - include circumstances in which the learner's and/or other participants' safety cannot be reasonably ensured or when carrying out assessment would break local or national Covid-19 restrictions. Guidance on when to delay can be found here

For centres considering whether to run practical assessment for YMCA Awards Sports Massage Therapy qualifications on the reopening of educational settings In England on 8 March, consideration should be given to the full context available when making a decision. That is:

  • The government has advised that practical assessments for qualifications demonstrating occupational or professional competency can go ahead.
  • We identify both YMCA Awards Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage Therapy (601/5011/7) and YMCA Awards Level 4 Certificate in Sports Massage Therapy (601/5123/7) as qualifications which demonstrate occupational competency so this would meet the initial criteria to proceed.
  • However, each centre will need to judge whether the local or national public health guidance and laws may restrict the delivery of these practical assessments.
  • A centre's decision will also be influenced by their particular learner cohorts, the Covid-19 arrangements they have in centre, the centre's policy on close contact assessment during Covid-19 and other risk assessment activity.

The General Council for Soft Tissue Therapies (GCMT) has written to awarding organisations which offer Sports Massage qualifications with the following message:

"Although educational establishments can open on March 8th, we do not advise work/practical assessments take place until close contact services resume on April 12th (all things being well). At the moment, we suggest full PPE is still worn at this stage (IIR mask, apron, visor and gloves for therapists and a mask for the client), unless otherwise advised by the government at a later stage"  Yvonne Blake, Vice Chair, The Association for Soft Tissue Therapists (via email, 27 February 2021).

Centres should take in to account the GCMT's advice in making a decision in balance with the centre's own specific context and arrangements.

This guidance applies to England only; for any centres not located in England please contact us to discuss your situation.