You will recall that I sent a letter to you in April to update you on the JCQCIC A2C Data Standards Programme. The beginning of a new academic year is a good time to provide a further update on the progress that we have made.
As you will be aware, the A2C programme is about changing the way centres and awarding organisations share data and carry out examination related activities, such as making entries and receiving outcomes for general and vocational qualifications. Further details about the programme, its benefits and a vision statement can be found on the A2C section of the JCQCIC website.
If your centre previously used EDI format for data transfer, you should already be using the A2C Migration Application, which was made available for use from September 2012. The Migration Application was introduced as an interim data transport mechanism to replace the need for expensive VANs and help cut costs to centres. It is important to note, however that use of the Migration Application does not mean your centre is A2C compliant. A2C compliance will be achieved as part of the next steps.
What’s been happening?
• The specification for 2014-15 has been finalised.
• The JCQ Awarding Organisations (AQA, CCEA, City & Guilds, OCR, Pearson and WJEC) and NCFE have been working towards upgrading their systems.
• The majority of commercial MIS suppliers have now started to upgrade their systems to include an A2C compliant message structure and to integrate the transport of data into their MIS systems.
• We have been conducting extensive cross-industry integration testing with a selected group of MIS suppliers and colleges.
From September 2014, as planned, we will be piloting the A2C data standards with approximately 20 colleges using the Capita FHE UNITe MIS system. The pilot will then be extended in January 2015 to include Compass and Advanced Learning customers, and will then be extended to other suppliers as their systems become ready to adopt the A2C standards.
The autumn pilot will be using test rather than live data. From January 2015, the colleges that have been involved in the pilot will start to switch over to A2C for all new entries. This transition will be carefully monitored and managed to ensure minimum disruption to business-as-usual activities.
Additional pilots and rollouts will continue to be managed by JCQ in conjunction with MIS suppliers and centres until September 2015. At this point we expect to be able to allow MIS suppliers to rollout their updated MIS in accordance with their own and customers’ requirements, and within JCQ guidelines.
The majority of MIS suppliers expect to be ready to roll out their upgraded systems from September 2015. This means that we expect the majority of centres to become A2C compliant during the academic year 2015-16. It is important to note that the cut-off date for all orders in EDI (the current) format is 31st December 2016.
What you need to do
It is essential that you stay in touch with your MIS supplier during the transition to A2C so that they can keep you informed of their rollout plans, and so that centres and suppliers can manage their individual preparations and requirements for A2C compliance.
If you are not sure whether your supplier is planning to support A2C, please check the list of MIS suppliers on our website. If your supplier name is not on the list, please email email@example.com as soon as possible for further instructions.
Some ‘homegrown centres’ – those centres that have their own MIS – have already made considerable progress with work on A2C. A list of ‘homegrown centres’ that we are aware of can be found here. If you are a ‘homegrown centre’ and do not appear on this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will update our records and provide any additional information you may need.
Switchover to A2C and the transition period – what this means for you
When your centre becomes A2C compliant, you will start to place all your new orders via A2C. However, during the transition period, please note:
• any orders submitted in EDI will receive outcomes in EDI
• any orders submitted in EDI will need to be amended in EDI
Further details of what the transition period will involve are available on the JCQ website here, Please rest assured that your MIS supplier and awarding organisation(s) will work closely with you whilst you are running both systems. To help us help you, please note:
• We strongly recommend that you don’t switchover to A2C mid-series.
• You will be able to switch one awarding organisation at a time if you wish. Your MIS supplier will be able to advise on how to manage this.
• The cut-off date for all orders in EDI format is 31st December 2016. This means that for general qualifications, no entries for a new series will be accepted in EDI format after this date.
• Once you have switched over for all awarding organisations you use, the Migration Application can be removed.
If you have any queries about the information provided in this update please contact any awarding organisation representative or visit the JCQ website where you can find up to date information.
A2C Programme Director