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Centre Update 3: Speech centre update

Dear Speech Centre Organiser,

On 9th April, the UK Government set out how it expects vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) to be assessed and awarded during the current pandemic, when schools and colleges have been closed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). ESB International’s qualifications fall under this cohort guidance.

Ofqual asked awarding organisations to compile a list of qualifications they offer and what their mitigation approach would be, i.e. how they plan to support learners and centres with getting final results. These options include:

  • Safely estimate or calculate results to issue to students
  • Adapt assessments so that they can be taken in different contexts but still safely and validly measuring the same skills, knowledge and understanding
  • Delay/reschedule (only used as a last resort).

On 24th April Ofqual opened a consultation on its Extraordinary Regulatory Framework, which includes qualifications available for public funding that fall into one of three categories:

  • Qualifications where the primary use is to progress to FE/HE
  • Qualifications where there is a mixed use to progress to FE, HE or employment
  • Qualifications where the primary use is to provide a License to Practise/access to a profession or certificate of occupational competency.

The consultation will close on the 8th May and a final list of qualifications in scope for the purposes of the framework will be published after that time. 

Potential impact for ESB International’s Speech assessments 

It is likely that speech assessments will need to be adapted  whilst centres are still closed or restrictions still in force that prevent a group assessment in a physical situation (subject to the final outcome of the Ofqual consultation).  

What may be the potential adaptations if centres are still closed?

  • recording individual learners and submitting the recordings to ESB International to be graded by assessors – this maybe more suitable for younger learners
  • assessing a group live but using video conferencing software – this may be more suitable for older learners
It is unlikely that we will be in a position to commence any adapted assessments until mid June at the earliest, given Ofqual’s current timelines.

Current Actions required of centres

1. Please read the consultation document to understand the extraordinary framework – do please participate in the consultation which can be found at

2. You do not need to cancel booked speech assessments until we communicate with you the position from Ofqual on how we may adapt assessments. 

3. Do please respond to if you’re interested in having your learners assessed remotely. This doesn’t commit you to anything, but it would be very helpful for ESB to have a sense of what speech centres may be interested in exploring.

Once the Extraordinary Regulatory Framework is enacted, ESB International  will  propose to its Speech centres how we may carry out adapted speech assessments. Thank you for your patience at this time as the sector establishes how we can carry out our work.

Any questions should also be sent to   

*Please note that we are running on a skeleton staff due to furloughing and will respond to any queries as quickly as we can.



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