Communications to Centres: DfE and Ofqual joint consultation

Centre update 4: ESOL Skills for Life centre update

Skills for Life and Ofqual’s Extraordinary Regulatory Framework

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: When will we know exact requirements?

These will be finalised by the end of May at the latest. We are currently in the process of developing a centre guidance document, which will provide further detail on types and strength of evidence and the process for calculating results. The Ofqual consultation ended on 8th May, so we cannot provide any final guidance until the outcomes of the consultation are fully established.


Q: Does this apply only to assessments that were cancelled in March, or for the rest of the academic year as well?

ESB International first wishes to focus on the cancelled exams for March, therefore these would take priority for both centres and for us, as and when any calculated results are submitted.

Once you have calculated results for March, we suggest you start to plan for any further cancelled or up-and-coming exams.

Q: We had booked an exam date in June. I do not think this will work for our school this year unfortunately as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Will there be any charge for cancellation of that booking as it was made just before lockdown?

Until we release our summer rules, we will not be sending out any cancellation charges.

Q: If we book exams in July and the centre is unable to re-open and run them due to continuing social distancing measures, are these likely to be automatically put for calculated results as well?

The Extraordinary Regulatory Framework is in place for all assessments which should have taken place between 20th March and 31st July 2020.

Q: We had a few students who cancelled their exam due to covid-19, as they wanted to get back to their home country before the lockdown took effect, so exams were cancelled by us not you, would this still apply to the calculated results?

If learners have not been able to take their assessments because of the COVID-19 situation and there is sufficient evidence for teachers to be able to confidently predict what they would have achieved, had they taken their assessments, then they should be put forward for a calculated grade.

Q: Our exam dates are in the cancelled section but to register I need to create a new booking and it doesn’t allow me to do this.

Our IT team is currently working on the best solution for centres with cancelled assessments, i.e. whether we can reinstate them or if they need to be re-registered.

Q: What is the process for registering learners on ESOL Skills for Life reading and writing exams? Can we enter them now and they receive a calculated grade? Or are we expected to enter once schools reopen, should this be before the end of the summer term?

Our centre guidance document for estimating results will include the process for registering learners and putting forward learners’ calculated results.

I would recommend waiting for further guidance, which we are hoping will be available before the end of May, before registering any learners.

Calculating results

Q: What evidence will we be expected to submit for our learners?

Centres are required to make available suitable evidence that supports their calculated grade decisions, should they be requested by ESB International for quality assurance purposes. We recognise that evidence will vary across centres and there may be some challenges in accessing certain pieces of evidence.

Until Ofqual’s consultation outcomes have been published, we cannot release our final guidance on this, however we expect that learner evidence will likely be in one or more of the following forms:

Mock exam results Previous achievement of Skills for Life Awards by the learner Lesson observations
Evidence from formative assessments, e.g. completed assessment checklists and teacher feedback Predicted results Schemes of work/lesson plans
Individual Learning Plans Teacher profiles of individual learners
Class work/homework Initial assessments and diagnostic assessments


ESB International may determine that it is unable to issue a calculated result which has sufficient validity and reliability to meet one or more of the principles of the extraordinary regulatory framework.

In addition to evaluating evidence of a group of learners, ESB International must also consider whether there are some learners, but not others, for whom the available evidence does not meet the minimum threshold.

Q: Will ESB International consider anything else in addition to learner evidence?

Yes, ESB will also compare performance against previous years’. We will also look each centre’s current risk profile.

Q: Who is responsible for submitting the centre judgements for the calculated results?

The Centre manager or curriculum lead is responsible for collating all the entries for that centre.

Q: Is it possible to nuance predicted results for individual members of staff?

The centre coordinator or manager is responsible for collating the judgements for all the learners in that cohort or booking with the understanding that if the centre pass rate is usually 80% over the whole year, for example, then we would expect a similar achievement rate for the 2020 cohort, overall.

Q: We are continuing with online classes though of course not all learners have been able to continue. What are the options for these learners to receive accreditation? Would these learners still be entitled to partake in the internal assessment procedures you detailed? And if so, are there any limitations regarding e.g. numbers of hours studied etc.?

Ultimately, centres (teachers) will need to use their professional judgement to decide on whether they feel they could safely and with confidence, predict the most likely outcome if a learner were to have taken their assessments. If that judgement cannot be made, then the learner should not have their results calculated.

If centres and teachers feel they can make that judgement and there is sufficient evidence available to justify their calculated grade, then they should be put forward for a calculated grade. As noted above, further guidance on what this evidence will entail will be made available to centres once the Ofqual consultation has been finalised.

Centres can make the decision to delay an assessment for a learner, if there is insufficient evidence.

Q: Does ESB International think that tutor assessment will include work learners have done in the online version of our courses? Most but not all have been able to continue studying remotely with our tutors. Will their assessment include this work or will we be only looking at stuff up to lockdown?

Any learner work that provides evidence towards the centre’s judgement on their calculated results will be considered. There is no cut-off date for when this work was completed/assessed.

Q: I’ve seen some AOs are planning to use online assessment for S&L. Is that something ESB International is considering?

Ofqual have confirmed that our ESOL Skills for Life qualifications should use the mitigation of calculating results, therefore providing an online assessment for speaking and listening, which would be adaptation, is not something ESB International is considering at this point.

For any further information, please contact us at and a member of the team will be in touch as soon as possible.


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