DfE rollback after SEND exclusion warning

New qualifications consultation sparked massive backlash against requiring learners to complete assessments entirely on the computer

New qualifications consultation sparked massive backlash against requiring learners to complete assessments entirely on the computer

The Ministry of Education backed down on a proposal for new digital functional qualifications that could have excluded learners with special educational needs.

Decisions on how prices will be regulated, following a consultation launched in 2019, were released today alongside the launch of a new consultation on the terms of allocation.

One of the ministry’s decisions is not to go ahead with prohibiting learners from taking their assessments on paper.

The DfE had argued that it was necessary to ensure that learners complete the on-screen assessments, as access to hard copies could not be “effectively restricted”.

The proposal sparked a wave of protests from respondents to the consultation, with a majority disagreeing with the ban on paper-based assessments.

Indeed, “a paper format may be required for some students with learning difficulties or disabilities who cannot use an on-screen assessment,” reads today’s decision document.

In addition, not all centers would have reliable internet access or sufficient equipment, and students “would be discriminated against if this was the only way to access an on-demand assessment.”

On-demand assessments refer to those available for an extended period.

Digital Functional Skills Tests ‘May Make It Difficult’ for Students, Says DfE

An Equality Impact Assessment released earlier this month along with subject content for the new qualifications found that the DfE feared that course design and delivery would “negatively impact” on learners with special educational needs.

Today, the department bowed to the pressure, with the decision document revealing: “In light of the feedback, we don’t think we should ban on-demand paper assessments as it could risk making it harder for some guys. of centers. and students to gain access to these qualifications.

Students will still need to use digital devices to complete assessment tasks and questions, and the department wants the awarding organizations to explain how they will manage the risks associated with using paper-based assessments.

Paper-based assessments will be expected to be available only in “limited circumstances,” the decision notice added.

Digital functional qualifications are expected to be rolled out in 2023.

The consultation on the modalities including the weighting of the marks and the number of evaluations is taking place from today until January 27, 2022.

You can view and respond to it here.

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