Invigilation Exception Requests: Functional Skills

Owing to current circumstances in relation to social distancing requirements, NCFE have made significant amendments to our authorisation process surrounding Invigilation Exception Requests.

Specifically, where we previously required centres to declare a minimum of 2 mitigating factors from the list below, for the foreseeable future, this has now been reduced to a minimum of 1 mitigating factor to be met.

Please note, however, that centres submitting a single mitigation, though approved and authorised*, are likely to be sampled by one of our Audit Advisors in a forthcoming academic session, in order to validate the security and integrity of our assessments.

Additionally, for those centres who are unable to send invigilators into workplaces because of remote locations and/or Covid restrictions, we have now produced a training resource, available on Qualhub, to enable employees within workplaces to be upskilled so that invigilation can be maintained safely and securely in these areas.

*please note that we may not be able to provide a unique response to every request, therefore we would ask that centres retain their automatic approval submission response as evidence of their authorisation.

Please note: Following the recent changes to the invigilation requirements for all Functional Skills external assessments, all centres administering Functional Skills external assessments are now required to adhere to these new practices (unless approved an exception as outlined below). NCFE have made available a Webinar to assist centres in determining whether or not an Invigilation Exception Request is required. Please familiarise yourself with the content of this Webinar as you may be able to maintain or modify your current processes without the need for an Exception application.

One of the main aims of the Functional Skills reform programme is to raise the status of Functional Skills alongside other equivalent maths and English qualifications. As a result, there is now a more direct focus on the invigilation requirements of Functional Skills external assessments in order to maintain the quality and rigour of this qualification.

We have worked closely with Ofqual and the Federation of Awarding Bodies to arrive at a set of common principles that demonstrate how we meet our regulatory requirements for the invigilation of Level 1 and Level 2 Functional Skills external assessments in maths and English.

Our Regulations for the Conduct of External Assessment have been updated to reflect the changes to the requirements for invigilation. It is expected that all centres administering Functional Skills will adhere to these new invigilation requirements (unless approved for exception as outlined below).

Ofqual also published an additional statement on Functional Skills invigilation, which you can view on their blog here. The document explains how Ofqual has agreed that Awarding Organisations will decide where to allow exceptions on the grounds of:

  • restrictions within the centre on the grounds of security or safeguarding; or
  • where an assessment is conducted at the candidate’s workplace and an assessment centre is not available locally; or
  • the remote location of the candidate’s workplace/assessment location; or
  • as part of a reasonable adjustment request for a specific learner.

If this applies to your situation and you believe that on occasion you may require an exception (either as a one-off or on a more regular basis), you must complete the form below describing your situation and the actions you will take to mitigate any risk to live assessment materials or potential conflicts of interest.

Please note: An exception request must be submitted at least 10 working days before any exceptions are applied in an NCFE external assessment. An exception request must only be submitted when all other options to administer an assessment in line with the new requirements have been exhausted. In summary, exceptions for Functional Skills assessments must be considered within each centre on a case by case basis and must not become the norm.

What happens next?

Upon submitting your request, you’ll be directed to an acknowledgement page to confirm your request has been received. We’ll respond within 3 working days to confirm the outcome of your request.

Centre exception approvals will be valid for 12 months from the date of approval. Within this time, centres will be required to review their internal systems and processes, with a view to making any necessary changes that will enable them to work within the invigilation requirements longer term.

All centre exception approvals will be logged centrally and NCFE may contact you at a later date to request information relating to any exceptions you have in place for assessments at your centre. Inspections may be carried out remotely or during any centre external quality assurance visit. 

Centre exceptions approval may be removed if NCFE identify any issues with invigilation or if the integrity of the assessment is compromised in anyway.

Centre exceptions approval will be reviewed annually. NCFE will contact centres at least 1 month prior to the 12 month approval period lapsing. NCFE will request details and supporting evidence of any actions your centre have taken to work within the invigilation requirements. A decision will then be made on whether to renew the centre exception approval for a further 12 months.


Please complete the form below to apply for centre exceptions approval.

Centre / Contact Details:

Exception Details

Please tick all that apply below:

On behalf of my centre I confirm that:

I have been authorised to submit this form on behalf of my centre.

The information provided in this application is complete and accurate.

Exceptions will only be applied in assessments meeting the exceptions criteria and after all other options have been exhausted.

Accurate and up to date records will be retained in centre of any external assessments completed where exceptions are applied.

I confirm appropriate evidence to support this application will be available within the centre for inspection, if requested by NCFE.