Yes. Please contact the Awarding Organisations you deal with to arrange access to their test environment. Contact details are on the Implementation Forum sharepoint site.
Once you have access to the Implementation Forum you can raise questions on the discussion board.
No. JCQ is offering the new Transport Application which will be able to transmit A2C xml files.
Example xml is available from the Shared Documents area on the Implementation Forum
Each Awarding Organisation has published a product catalogue with example products which can be used for testing. These are available from the Shared Documents area on the Implementation Forum.
The spec will be issued annually. We will continue to include clarifications arising from questions raised by implementers even if there are no actual changes.
The data model will never be frozen. However it is under strict change control and will continue to be aligned with ISB. Any data model changes will be notified to implementers as part of an update to the spec, which will be annually in January.
There is no certification for A2C. You will need to test your A2C implementation.
You only need to implement the transaction types that you will use. For example, if you do not use Test Resource Bookings (TRB) you do not need to implement these transaction types.
The A2C Transport Application is available to be downloaded from https://a2c.avcosystems.com/Download.
This is the application that will be used by homegrown centres that are not implementing an integrated transport. It allows A2C xml files to be transferred. It is an enhancement to the A2C Migration Application which you already have.
This version will not be rolled out to centres with commercial MIS systems.
There is both a FileTypes.config (with the new action codes for v2.0) and awardingbodies.config (which contains details of the test AO endpoints used for integration testing).
Yes JCQ will continue to support the A2C Transport Application for any homegrowns wishing to use it.
You can implement the GQ elements of A2C and use your MIS for GCSE and GCE entries and use alternative means (eg AO extranet) for submitting other entries. More detail can be found in the “Twin Track Strategy” in Section 1 of the spec.
We recommend that validation is performed within your MIS so that your Exams Officer gets instant feedback and to reduce queries with the awarding organisations. However, if your Exams Officer is confident using offline guidance you could omit the validation and rely on validation by the Awarding Organisation systems. They will return feedback messages if there are any issues.
Some feedback messages are for Exams Officers to take action, and these should be brought to the EO’s attention. We have attempted to make these messages intelligible to an exams officer. It is recommended that you provide them with a facility to manage feedback so they can see what is outstanding.
Some feedback messages are more technical and should be directed to the development team responsible for the MIS. You may wish to notify the Exams Officer that something has gone wrong but they are not expected to be able to take action themselves.
One of the aims of A2C is to harmonise terminology across the Awarding Organisations and indeed across the education sector. Inevitably this has meant that some terms in common usage with individual AOs has had to change. The terms have been adopted by the Department for Education and in due course will be used by other systems.
Please see section 1 of the spec for details on harmonisation and Appendix 6 for a glossary.
It is recommended that you use the new terms where possible (and particularly in your database design) but it is up to you whether to expose the new terminology to users. In particular you may wish to differentiate the different types of “party” in your user interface (as “learner/student” etc).