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We are aware that some colleagues might have received the recent correspondence from the University regarding an 'Academic Safety Net' policy. Please note that the guidance included in that email is intended for students and staff at the Durham campus. We are working hard to ensure that all relevant information is translated into practice for TEIs and the Common Awards Framework. Please bear with us as we undertake this work.
This policy will differ from the 'No Detriment' policy used in 2019/20. University Senate has agreed that an across-the-board algorithmic approach to grades and degree classifications (i.e the use of a 'No Detriment' AMW) is not appropriate as we would lack the data needed to create authentic baseline averages. The principle behind the 'Academic Safety Net' policy remains the same as 'No Detriment' and is designed to give students confidence that their grades and degree outcomes will not be negatively affected by Covid-19, and that the integrity of their degree will be maintained. The terminology has been deliberately changed to reflect the different responses required in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
The Common Awards Team is working closely with the National Ministry Team to translate the 'Academic Safety Net' policy for TEIs and the Common Awards Framework and will communicate the Common Awards policy as soon as we are able to do so. We also intend to run training sessions, as we did last year, to outline the approach and the implications for TEIs. These will be scheduled as soon as possible.
In light of the changing situation, and the introduction of the new 'Academic Safety Net' policy, please note that the Frequently Asked Questions on Covid-19 have been updated. We would be grateful if TEIs could continue to review the FAQs regularly. The FAQs have been separated out into matters relating to the 2019/20 academic year and matters relating to the 2020/21 academic year (alongside additional existing guidance on supporting students and changes to any scheduled events). Changes made to FAQs relating to 2019/20 have only been updated to clarify that guidance relates to the 2019/20 academic year in order to avoid any confusion with processes for 2020/21.
Please review the information contained within the Common Awards FAQs in the first instance and contact the Common Awards Team on the general mailing address if you have any questions.
Previous guidance issued on how to take the effects of Covid-19 into account when marking has been formalised and the guidance can be found in the FAQs.
29th April - Improving support for students with Specific Learning Difficulties (Event)
4th May - Common Awards Student Survey opens
4th May - Common Awards Management Board
28th May - Common Awards Student Survey closes
28th May - Deadline: TEIs to submit Curriculum Development requests for programme and module changes
Please note, some members of the Common Awards Team have had to change their working patterns due to the need to provide care or home-school activities for children at home. Some members are also experiencing (or have recently recovered from) a period of ill health, which may also affect availability and the time taken to respond to queries. Please note that Dr Eve Parker and Emma Harrington are both on maternity leave. Please bear with us during these times and we will respond to all queries as quickly as we can. Please continue to contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure that your query can be dealt with appropriately.
The annual Common Awards Student Survey allows students to provide feedback on their academic experience (on areas including: learning and teaching, study support, learning communities and student voice). The first Survey ran in 2017, with identical questions used in 2018 and 2019 in order to monitor whether improvements had been made and provide TEIs with useful comparative data collected over the 3 years.
At the end of the first 3 years feedback on the existing survey questions was sought from the Common Awards Management Board, and suggested changes were incorporated into a revised draft of the survey. The survey has also been developed in order to facilitate the collection of equality, diversity and inclusion data. The Common Awards Team subsequently sought feedback from TEIs on the proposed questions through online consultation/discussion at the TEI Forum in April 2020. The new survey was piloted in 2020.
In order to ensure that this data is representative of the Common Awards student population, the Common Awards Management Board agreed that participation in the survey should be compulsory for all TEIs from 2020.
The 2020/21 Common Awards Student Survey will run from Tuesday 4th May – Friday 28th May 2021. These dates have been chosen as they: are after the NSS has concluded (which affects several TEIs); are before most courses finish for the academic year; and provide Durham with time to analyse the survey results to feed into TEI ASE processes.
The survey will be entirely managed and analysed by Durham, with TEI-specific results shared with each TEI over the summer. The survey will be available to all students registered on Common Awards programmes in 2020/21.
The Common Awards Management Board, scheduled for 4th May 2020, will be held virtually. The minutes and TEI Management Committee report will be circulated to key contacts as soon as possible after the meeting.
The Overarching Board of Examiners are due to be held on September 2nd (Summer) and December 2nd (Winter).
We therefore ask that TEIs hold their own Board of Examiners no later than 6th August (Summer) and 5th November (Winter). This allows the Common Awards Team enough time to process the data received from TEIs, and resolve any queries, before the Overarching Board of Examiners.
If you have not already done so, please let the Common Awards Team know the dates of your TEI Board of Examiners as soon as possible.
TEIs are advised to note the following upcoming Curriculum Development deadlines in May. The deadline for the proposals is May 28th. Please note, the level of approval and timescale for each change depends upon the complexity of the proposals under consideration.
TEI programme changes: Proposals from a TEI to make any changes its programme regulations (including, but not limited to: deleting a module, adding a module, restructuring module lists, and rewording the rubrics within the programme regulations).
TEI module changes: Proposals from a TEI (or one or more of its constituent centres) to change their selection of the module assessment details, contact hours, and/or learning and teaching methods.
Ahead of the Board of Examiners, would like to remind TEIs of the principles surrounding the conversion of marks.
Some assignments, like language tests, might produce quantitative scores. Those scores are not the marks for that assignment. In principle, they will always need to go through some process of conversion – where conversion involves making qualitative judgments about what is meant by different levels of achievement in a quantitatively scored test, and then translating those qualitative judgments into numerical marks in the normal way.
Further information on Converting Test Scores into Marks is available on our website.
TEIs already do a lot to support students with Specific Learning Difficulties. This is, however, an area in which we can all keep on developing.
We want to enable staff from different TEIs to learn from each other, and from good practice elsewhere in the churches and in the Higher Education sector. We also want identify and share useful resources.
We are therefore running an initial meeting, on Zoom, to begin scoping what might be possible in this area. The meeting will be an opportunity for some initial identification of good resources and examples of good practice. It will also be an opportunity to discuss how in practice we might go on identifying and sharing such examples and resources.
The meeting is open to any member of staff (academic or administrative) from any TEI who has an interest in this area.
The meeting will be held on Zoom, on Thu 29th April, from 2–4pm.
To book a place, please use this Eventbrite link.
The full 2020/2021 academic calendar is available here.
Mike, Frances, Eve, Alyson, Emma, Rhianne, Deborah and Adam