Focus Awards, like many of our centres, are concerned by the news of coronavirus and how quickly it is spreading across the world. Reassuringly, we are advised that many who become infected will experience no more than a ‘mild illness’. However, for older people, or those with certain pre-existing conditions it can be extremely serious, and even fatal. This brings us to the importance of ensuring the virus is not spread.
We want to ensure you are fully supported through this period of unsettlement, and as such will be making several temporary changes to the way we work with centres.
We will no longer physically attend the premises of our centres. Instead, we will use Skype or conference calls to carry out our monitoring activities. This should have no impact on the quality of support you receive from your EQA.
Support visits can still be requested and will be carried out in the same manner.
Assessment of Learners
We are temporarily removing the requirement that learners receive an in-person practical assessment, and will instead accept video recorded evidence in place of this. We have discussed this step with our partners at CIMSPA who are supportive of this precaution.
There are certain requirements that must be followed in respect to video-recorded evidence that can be found at the following link.
Qualification certificates will be sent by email only as e-certificates. This will ensure certificates are received in a timely manner and will remove the need for our staff to be office-based in the eventuality the UK Government decides to restrict individuals to their homes, as has been the case in numerous other countries.
Once circumstances return to normal, we will accept requests for printed certificates and will provide these at a nominal fee.
Centres and their staff teams should familiarise themselves with, and follow government guidelines as they develop.
Centres are required to ensure that the environment is safe for all users, which includes following correct cleaning procedures of equipment, facilities, and personal hygiene. Hand sanitizers and cleaners should be made available where possible.
We will extend the time registrations remain active on our systems (Currently 24 months) on a case by case basis should a learner be impacted by COVID-19.
Centres are expected to consider the impact this particular situation will have on both its business and its learners. In doing so, you should consider how this impact can be successfully mitigated. Good practice would be to create a Continuity Plan, an example of which we have provided below.
(The Business Resilience & Continuity Plan has been developed by one of our centres the Dhunay Corporation Ltd. and permission granted for it to appear here)
Focus Awards and its staff team are committed to reducing the burden this situation has on its centres and learners. We will be as flexible as possible, whilst ensuring standards are maintained, to ensure any interruption experienced will be kept to a minimum. We actively seek our centres views on how we can best support you and your businesses throughout this challenging time.
We will continue to monitor the situation and guidance issued, and will amend this policy as required. Reviews will be communicated via our website and on the Qualitas system, so please ensure you check these regularly.
If you have any questions or concerns, or wish to discuss anything outlined in this document, please do not hesitate to contact us.
COVID 19 (Coronavirus)
The following information is taken directly from the World Health Organisation’s website –
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
How does COVID-19 spread?
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
Update 17th March
In an effort to support our centres during this period of uncertainty, we are today offering our online portal free of charge for a period of 3 months – this may well be extended subject to review at a later stage.
We have also taken the decision to make no charge for the associated materials when accessed via the portal. Again, this is a temporary benefit to assist your business during this uncertain time.
Centres will be able to ensure their learners can access materials wherever they are, at any time to suit their needs. Assessments can still take place, and evidence uploaded to the portal for marking and your EQA’s can even access this remotely for sampling when the time arises. This will speed up certification of your learner’s work.
This step, together with our announcement yesterday relaxing the rules around gathering evidence remotely should provide real support to assist you in navigating through this difficult time.
To request a learner portal is set up on your behalf please fill in the form below. Please note that you should only request a portal if you absolutely require one as demand is anticipated to be high.
Update 22nd July 2020
Until recently who would have thought a deadly virus would come from nowhere and cause such devastation. The number of lives lost, the effect on your health and well-being (including those of whom you love), and the financial costs have been significant. Now we are aware of Covid-19 and the likely strategies employed by the UK government to control or contain it, we must be ready for any further incidence.
At Focus Awards we stand by to support you and your business in any way that we can. We understand how coronavirus may have affected you – not just in business, but personally – so even if you just fancy a chat or a catch up, each of us are only a phone call away!
If there is a qualification that may not currently exist that you feel would benefit your business and learners let us know and we will develop it free of charge (assuming we are satisfied there will be sufficient demand). It may be there is a knowledge-based qualification you feel is lacking in the marketplace, or a qualification that can be assessed using the many modes of technology that exist.
Update 4th November 2020
Whilst we are in a period of unsettlement due to Covid-19 Focus Awards will continue to support centres.
During the next few weeks please be advised, we have extended the certificate dispatch times from 3 working days to 7 working days. If you only receive electronic certificates these will remain within the 3 working days SLA.
Manual and workbook orders may take longer to be received so please order well in advance of any need. If you placed an order before 3.30pm on Tuesday 3rd November 2020. The order has been dispatched and will be delivered within 48 hours. For tracking information please speak to your centre support advisor.
Should you require advice on adaption of assessment please contact your assigned External Quality Assurer.
Update 24th February 2021
As the Government announced the “roadmap” for the ease of restrictions yesterday, the Department for Education published the update for “Further education
coronavirus (COVID19) operational guidance”.
“This guidance sets out what further education (FE) and skills providers need to know so that students of all ages can benefit from their education and training in full. It explains the actions to
take to stay as safe as possible as we continue to respond to the challenges of coronavirus (COVID-19).
This guidance explains the actions college leaders should take to minimise the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in their setting This includes public health advice,
endorsed by Public Health England (PHE).This guidance is for leaders and staff in:
• sixth form colleges
• general FE colleges
• independent training providers
• designated institutions
• adult community learning providers
• special post-16 institutions
This guidance also covers expectations for students with education, health and care plans (EHCP) in mainstream FE settings, and special post-16 institutions.”
The guidance can be found and downloaded here.
At Focus Awards will endeavour to continue our support to centres.
In line with the update in November, many of our members of staff will continue to work remotely and the extended dispatch times will remain in place.
Update 28th June 2021
Summer 2021 Results
As Focus Awards qualifications are assessed through portfolios of evidence, centres are required to continue to submitting records of completed learners to Focus Awards as normal throughout the summer period. All sampling activities are continuing as normal, and certificate turn-around times remain unchanged.
Should you have any questions, or require any assistance, please contact your Centre Support Assistant.