Coronavirus update for customers

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Coronavirus update for customers

You will be aware of the various Government and World Health Organisation (WHO) announcements and official advice over COVID19.

The situation is unprecedented and has been continually changing. With colleges and schools now closed and the country in effect ‘locked down’, other than essential services, we will endeavour to continue to support you, your apprentices, learners and card applicants through this difficult period.

We support Ofqual’s statement that the most important principle is fairness to all learners and apprentices, not only for those being assessed now, but also for those assessed before COVID-19.

All our staff are working from home, so we will still be offering front line support, through telephony, email and web chat as usual.

At this time, NOCN aims to provide as full a range of our services as possible, where these can be delivered remotely, and where possible we will use remote or recorded assessment methods. We will do this in a way to maintain the integrity of the assessment.

All face-to-face appointments for approval visits, External Quality Assurers, and external assessments have been suspended until training centres reopen and normal business resumes.

We will be providing digital on-line support to you, this may include the ability to offer WebEx interviews, develop online invigilated exams in place of physical papers, and certain digital content support. Please contact us to discuss how best we can support you.

As you will know, NOCN Group offers a wide range of services including regulated qualifications, EPA for apprenticeships, Job Cards in construction, Access to HE Diplomas, bespoke accreditation and educational and skills support training. You will find out more operational detail on the implications of COVID19 for each of these services, including advice for students and centres preparing for external assessments, through the following links:

Business Development
Regulated Qualifications
Quality Assurance
EPA for Apprenticeships
Job Cards in construction (CPCS)
Access to HE Diplomas
Bespoke Accreditation
International

Please note that NOCN will be following the guidance issued by the ESFA, IfATE, Ofqual, CCEA, QAA and Qualifications Wales, and will update our customers as things change.

If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the impact on your centre, apprentices or learners please contact us on nocn@nocn.org.uk or 0300 999 1177 (Option 5).

Best wishes from all at NOCN to you our valued customers. We hope you all remain safe and well.

Graham Hasting-Evans, Group Managing Director

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Coronavirus Update for Customers 16th March

At NOCN Group we will endeavour to minimise the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our support for training centres, test centres and learners, whilst following the advice from Public health England and the Department of Education.

We will remain open for business as we have a robust contingency plan in place to minimise the disruption to our service. Our teams have remote working capability and can meet you via Teams/Skype as well as mobile phone calls. If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the impact on your centre or learners please contact us on nocn@nocn.org.uk or 0300 999 1177 (Option 5)

Job Cards

NOCN Job Cards is aware that there may be some difficulty renewing or updating CPCS cards due to issues caused by COVID19. This may take the form of not being able to make HSE tests, attend CPCS Practical assessments or CPCS renewal tests.

CPCS is now producing 90% of new card applications within 20 days and will soon be under 15 days. With our contingency planning, we aim to retain this level of service, however, we understand that Operators may have difficulty gaining the requirements for Cards in the future.

As such CPCS has recommended to Employers that their sites could be more lenient on accepting cards that have expired from mid-March onwards until the Covid-19 situation has been brought more under control. This is, of course, the Employers’ choice and decision.

For further information about CPCS please contact NOCN’s CPCS team on 0300 999 1177 (Option 2), or email: enquiries@jobcards.org

Business Development

The Business Development team is here to provide support and assistance as normal and we are available through the contacts below. We are proactively offering video and telephone conferencing to all centres, via Microsoft teams and also Skype. Our team is remotely based across the country and will be only too happy to assist with your business requirements and enquires. Please do contact us on the numbers below:

New Business Enquiries

Beverley Scarfe - 07508 846601 Beverley.scarfe@nocn.org.uk

Strategic Account Managers

Michelle Jackson – 07758 162730 Michelle.Jackson@nocn.org.uk
Laura Randall – 07904 034030 Laura.Randall@NOCN.onmicrosoft.com

End Point Assessment

NOCN will work with you to ensure that the majority of End Points Assessments will see little effect of COVID-19. Those most likely to be affected will be standards with face to face delivery models. In these instances, NOCN will work with providers and employers to understand the restrictions in force where End Point Assessments are either planned or mid delivery.

NOCN will ensure that a pragmatic risk-based response to limitations on EPA delivery is taken, at the guidance of PHE, DfE, ESFA and IfATE.

If you have any problems or concerns, please contact NOCN’s End point assessment team on 0300 999 1177 (Option 1) or endpointassessment@nocn.org.uk

Functional Skills

At this time NOCN has no plans to make any changes to the services and support provided for Functional Skills Qualifications, and we are monitoring the situation on a daily basis.

NOCN advises centres and students to prepare for external assessments as is their usual practice.

If your centre is required to close down, please contact us with the following:

1. Confirm your decision to close your centre
2. Confirm details of booked assessments, time and venues for suspension of booking
3. Confirm your concluded centre closure
4. When appropriate, inform NOCN of your continuation of assessments.

If NOCN Group offices are closed down, the majority of the business will continue as normal, remotely, but external assessments may be impacted.

In this event, please contact NOCN Group with the numbers of assessments impacted, and we will confirm the measures which need to be implemented.

Our Functional Skills team is contactable via 0300 999 1177 (Option 5), or the following emails:

Elizabeth Pawlowski elizabeth.pawlowski@nocn.org.uk

Kelly-Ann Wickens Kelly-Ann.Wickens@nocn.org.uk

Stephen Collinson Stephen.Collinson@oneawards.org.uk

One Awards Centres

One Awards office will remain open with a contingency plan in place for working remotely if necessary. Updates will be regularly provided and plans implemented to minimise disruption to quality assurance and assessment processes. If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the impact on your centre or learners, please contact us directly on admin@oneawards.org.uk or 0191 518 550.

International

Our team will continue to work with and support all International Centres and Partners. Although business travel has been suspended, we will use video conferencing and technology to maintain dialogue. For further information please contact us on: international@nocn.org.uk

General Background

The Government has published a number of updates on the risk to the general public of the Coronavirus.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Latest Update 16th March

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has outlined the UK Government’s plan for managing the Coronavirus threat in four sections: ‘contain, delay, research and mitigate’, reflecting World Health Organisation guidelines.

The Government announced on 12th March that we have moved from the ‘contain’ stage to the second ‘delay’ phase of the government’s response.

Initially this is focused on self-isolation for people with mild flu-like symptoms, by staying at home for 7 days with a minimal contact with others as possible.

The COBRA committee is meeting again today (16th March) and is expected to introduce further ‘social distancing’ measures intended to reduce the transmission of the virus, such as reducing large scale gatherings, more home-working and asking older and more vulnerable people to self-isolate.

Good hygiene guidelines will continue to be important, including regular hand washing and use of tissues to catch sneezes and coughs.

Guidance for employers, employees and businesses

Employers and businesses have been given advice about protecting their workforce, and what to do if a case of coronavirus is identified. Whilst home working may be encouraged in the coming weeks, this is not currently recommended.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Guidance for Educational settings

Guidance for educational settings has also been updated. To date schools and colleges remain open, but advice is changing daily.and-businesses-about-covid-19.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19

Impact on Apprenticeships

In order to support the sector during any disruption which may be experienced due to Covid-19 these are the initial recommendations from the Department for Education:

1. Apprentices who are ready for assessment – i.e. who reach gateway and cannot be assessed due to assessor illness or Covid-19 related measures, will be allowed to have a break in learning. This should protect funding and completion of apprenticeships and should be reflected in the July completion rules. The normal breaks in learning process should be followed and therefore we only need notifying once a break in learning has exceeded 4 weeks. A break in learning must occur before the learner is recorded as completed. Apprentices can go on a break in learning between completing the learning activity (learning actual end date) and the assessment, but there would be no requirement to record in this in the ILR as it will not have an effect on funding.

2. Apprentices who experience gaps in training due to Covid-19 related illness in the workplace or off the job can classify this period as a break in learning. The normal breaks in learning process should be followed and therefore we only need notifying once a break in learning has exceeded 4 weeks.

3. Usually, breaks in learning are only permitted where they are learner driven, however we are aware that there may be occasion where an employer who is following government advice may take action that results in an apprenticeship have to be paused. In these occasions a break in learning can be used where there will be a break of longer than 4 weeks. The normal breaks in learning process should be followed.

4. In order to maintain the integrity of high quality assessment of apprenticeships we are going to monitor the situation and will issue further advice and modifications relating to specific assessment methods if necessary.

5. We advise adhering to the current escalation process of raising EPA (end-point assessment) issues through EQAPs (external quality assurance providers) in the first instance.

There is a need for everyone (employer, provider, EPAO, Apprentice) to take a reasonable and balanced approach in these situations and to recognise that the health and wellbeing of individuals is a higher priority than performance measures.

We know that good communications between each of these parties is important to the successful delivery of EPA anyway. So, in these circumstances that communication becomes even more important.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) will shortly be publishing guidance for this area in response to potential disruption from Covid-19.