Nearly 3,000 students will receive qualifications this year with partial reopening of FE colleges

  • Economy Minister Diane Dodds has announced the partial reopening of further education (FE) colleges and work-based-learning providers to support the delivery of vocational qualifications this summer.

    This means that almost 3,000 students will be able to obtain a qualification outcome this year and progress to further training or employment.

    The move follows the Minister’s announcement in late April regarding the alternative arrangements put in place for vocational qualifications in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the cancellation of scheduled assessments and exams.

    FE colleges have been continuing teaching and student support services through virtual delivery and a number of qualifications will be based upon a calculated result this summer.

    However, multiple other qualifications will require some form of practical assessment for learners to achieve their qualification this academic year.

    This form of assessment relates to learners in a number of areas including construction trades, automotive studies, engineering, barbering, hospitality, hairdressing and beauty therapy.

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    During a visit to the Southern Regional College Portadown campus this morning Minister Dodds said: “FE colleges and work-based-learning providers have been liaising with vocational qualification awarding organisations to understand what form practical assessments should take, and they are now in a position to move forward with on-site adapted assessments for a number of curriculum areas.

    “The colleges have completed the necessary risk assessments and implemented the health and safety measures required, and I am pleased to announce a partial and targeted reopening to facilitate the assessments which will be key to increasing the number of learners who are able to progress.

    “Over 2,850 FE learners will now achieve their qualifications as a result of the completion of the adaptive assessments, which will take place in those subject areas where the associated industrial sector has been given approval to return to work.”

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    Speaking on behalf of the FE colleges, Brian Doran, principal of Southern Regional College welcomed the move and said: “We immediately recognised the concerns of many learners who were worried that they would not be able to progress as expected and the potential difficulties in reengaging learners in the new academic year. We hope that this decision will now provide the necessary certainty and reassurance to them on their next steps.

    “There is no doubt that this has been a difficult period for everyone, and we thank our learners and their parents and guardians for their co-operation and understanding. Our young people represent the future of the economy and it is only right that we do everything possible to ensure that they are treated fairly. While challenges remain, we look forward to working to ensure all of our students get the qualifications they deserve.”

    Both Minister Dodds and Principal Doran thanked the staff, students, families and colleges for their ongoing patience and support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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