Assembly Written Question 10204/17-22

Question: To ask the Minister for the Economy (i) for her assessment of the risk of disruption to examinations in the further education sector for the current academic year, as a result of COVID-19; and (ii) what actions she is taking to mitigate this risk.

Answer: The Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing social distancing measures continue to impact on the delivery and assessment of vocational qualifications in the further education sector and further disruption is a distinct possibility. From the outset of the pandemic, my Department has been working closely with key stakeholders, including the further education sector, through a Departmental Task & Finish Group, to respond to the emerging challenges with regard to the safe and effective delivery of vocational qualifications. The focus for this academic year is to ensure that awarding organisations put in place flexible contingency measures and adaptations for providers to be able to respond appropriately to changing needs throughout the academic year and to effectively support learners to complete their courses of study. In addition, providers, particularly the further education sector given their prominence in terms of scale, have put in place a range of innovative ways to offer safe delivery of teaching and learning, including enhanced blended learning. The Department will continue to closely monitor the situation through the Task & Finish Group and in conjunction with CCEA Regulation in anticipation of any further emerging needs.

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