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Reflecting on how remote invigilation has shaped smarter learning

Reflecting on how remote invigilation has shaped smarter learning
Headshot David Redden

NCFE’s Product Manager, David Redden, reflects on how NCFE’s remote invigilation solution has shaped smarter learning during challenging times for providers and learners

Article reproduced with kind permission

One year on from the launch of our remote invigilation, we’re reflecting on how this assessment solution has shaped smarter learning during challenging times for providers and learners.

"We’ve had over 8,000 learners sit an assessment through the remote invigilation solution, receiving their results in 6 working days"

David Redden, Product Manager at NCFE

An overnight change

No one knew just how much things were going to change when the first lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020.

In those early days, teachers had to change their whole delivery approach overnight, from classroom-based to remote teaching. Then, as it became apparent that the pandemic would not be over quickly, the focus moved on to assessments, and how we were going to overcome the issue of learners not being able to complete them.

At first, the Department for Education (DfE) turned to Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) as the solution, but everyone soon realised that we needed a more sustainable approach to completing assessments. In the summer of 2020, NCFE conducted numerous virtual sessions with providers, schools and colleges to understand the challenges and needs around assessment.

The resounding belief was that we needed to bring a remote invigilation solution to the market to make assessments accessible to learners, to prevent delays in them being able to achieve and move on to their next step.

Seeking a flexible assessment solution

At NCFE, we’ve always believed that flexibility is key when it comes to assessments, which is why we offer all of our Functional Skills assessments on-demand. We took this approach into our scoping for a remote invigilation solution, as we looked for a solution that allowed learners to sit an assessment at a time and in a location that was most suitable to them.

That’s why we chose to go with our “record and review” solution. This allows a learner to be booked onto a remote invigilated assessment without having to specify a set date and time. This means that learners and apprentices who work during the day can sit their assessment in the evening or at weekends.

We set about working collaboratively with our partners to develop our system and integrate it that summer. By November 2020, we were underway with an extensive pilot, working with internal staff first, before rolling it out to 3, and then 20, centres to pilot. This allowed us to work closely with the centres and learners to ensure that they had the optimum experience, and to fine-tune our guidance and support to enable their full understanding of the process and system.

Helping learners to achieve success remotely

Once we had everything in place to support our learners, we officially launched our remote invigilation solution to the market on 24 February 2021.

On that first day, we had 12 learners sit their assessment with over half of them achieving, which was a great start. Since then, we’ve had over 8,000 learners sit an assessment through the remote invigilation solution, receiving their results in 6 working days. Over half (54%) of those learners have had a successful outcome, enabling them to progress through Gateway, into new employment or further into education.

Is remote invigilation here to stay?

Remote invigilation was brought in to solve a problem during the pandemic – however, as we move out of the pandemic, we are seeing it becoming firmly embedded as a valid assessment option in the “new world”. Over 20% of online assessments are currently carried out through remote invigilation, as centres and learners see the benefit of sitting assessments at a time that suits them.

Looking around the sector, we’re seeing the possibility of opening up this format to many more assessments and creating a whole new way of learning and assessing qualifications. These are exciting times as it moves us further away from a “one size fits all” approach and towards making assessments and education an option to all.

While there are undoubtedly issues around digital poverty as we move forward and become more innovative, we’re striving to make assessments more accessible to everyone and to the benefit of the learner.

Final thoughts and silver linings

Although there have been many challenging days over the past two years, as we now start to reflect, we can start looking at the positive rays of light that have come out of these days. We’re in a much stronger position in terms of delivering qualifications, mixing traditional methods with new digital tools to achieve stronger and faster initial and diagnostic assessments, through to a more flexible approach to assessments.

From just having paper-based assessments to the addition of online assessment, we now have remote invigilated assessment – and the innovation won’t stop there!

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