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IMPORTANT – COVID-19 new guidance


Following publication of the English government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy document GQA Qualifications, the fenestration industry’s leading awarding body, has rolled out clear new guidance to its network of over 100 approved centres. The guidance aims to minimise disruption and inconvenience for students whilst simultaneously maintaining and monitoring the validity and integrity of qualifications sought.

Mick Clayton, the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer says:

“In its strategy document the English government made it clear that the construction sector should be operational, albeit safely. For the fenestration industry this means that employees should be able to continue to pursue qualifications and upgrade or improve their knowledge during the virus crisis.

“In our guidelines for our approved centres we have drawn attention to the need for flexibility from assessors. For example there is a lot of technology that can be used to help reduce the need for physical visits or meetings. Assessors can pick one of several tools such as audio recordings, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom and other platforms to record question and answer sessions or professional discussions. Additionally, we have guidance on how remote video and photography can be used as evidence of practical activities. We are also advising assessors to encourage candidates themselves to submit photographic/video evidence and detailed personal statements on work carried out so that assessors can use one of the tools above to ask relevant underpinning knowledge questions.

“Other areas covered in our guidelines include for example using communications technology to gather meaningful witness testimonies from supervisors. As many centres move away from traditional, hard copy portfolios, other options are encouraged such as e-portfolio, uploading to GQA online and scan then email.

“Here at GQA we are confident that many of the suggested ways of working during this time will be continued going forwards. Indeed, some of the feedback we have had has been along the lines of ‘We will probably be asking ourselves why weren’t we doing this before?’ We’re also very pleased to report that our guidelines have been warmly received by our approved centres.”

Testimony of this appreciation has come from comments such as the one received from Jim Swainston at the GQA approved centre, Northern Skills Group, the commercial training arm of Middlesbrough College:

“The college works with a number of awarding organisations, and in a cross-department meeting the guidance given by GQA was identified as being extremely useful, and it was good to see that GQA was being proactive and prompt in issuing clear and comprehensive advice.”

As well as the guidance for onsite assessment, GQA Qualifications has also issued some clear additional advice to centres around classroom delivery to ensure social distancing and other measures to protect the safety of centre staff and candidates.

Working towards qualifications and identifying learning opportunities remain important during the pandemic, and GQA’s network of over 100 approved centres is key to facilitating qualifications attainment, not just in England, but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also.

More information on GQA is available at

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