Ruth Canham-James

Withdrawal or Fail


This relates to individual learning aims with exams, for any funding stream.

What's the distinction between a fail and a withdrawal? Both have the Outcome “Did not achieve”, so the distinction is simply the Completion Status; 

Completed - The learner has completed the learning activities leading to the learning aim

Withdrawn - The learner has withdrawn from the learning activities leading to the learning aim

The question then is, does an exam count as a learning activity? Logically, I’d say no, but we know that exams can be counted when determining Actual End Date (16-19 funding rules, page 68, Q7), and the definition of Actual End Date is “The date that the learner completed the learning activities necessary to achieve the learning aim or the date the learner withdrew from the learning activities”. If an exam can count for the AED, then the logic appears to be that an exam is “Learning Activity”, so to be a fail, you need to have done the exams.

Also for consideration, auditors do sometimes ask for evidence of a fail, which we can only do if they were actually signed up for the exam.

What about a student who was entered for all the exams, and just doesn't show up to any of them? What if they attend all classes, but then is unentered for the exams before they are due? Does it make a difference to which Completion Status you'd use? I'm interested to know where other providers draw the line, as I don't think the rules are crystal clear on this. 


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Martin West

You can only put them as completed if they take the examination (if it is part of the learning activity) and then enter the outcome (the result evidenced by the awarding body) otherwise it is withdrawn.


How does one "unenter" someone for an exam? Aren't they just absent? Not aware of many AOs who will give you your money back that close to the date (which, if they've done all of the classes, I guess would be pretty close?), so they'd still be on the entries list, so you could show it to an auditor?

By which I mean, I'd complete and fail someone in this scenario.


Sorry Martin, disagree with that for everything but EPAs, for classroom there's no suggestion in any of the rules that someone has to physically do the exam to complete.

Ruth Canham-James

Steveh I have no idea! I don't deal with Exams, it was something Exams said to me. Maybe it's more of an internal thing, where we remove from seating plans etc.

I do feel that, if we fully expected them to show up, and they're just absent, that's a fail. A student who pulls out of exams before they were happening, seems more legitimate as a withdrawal, but it's a fine distinction.

I also don't fully understand the implications, as I don't deal with achievement/retention data either. 


Yeah, that sounds about right, but they'll likely still be on the list of entries to the AO.

Potentially minor monetary implications for AEB if they don't cross the last month end (eg exam on 10 June, last attendance 28 May) and are withdrawn rather than completed. No impact on *achievement* because they'll be a start, would impact on retention if you've always done it the other way...

Ruth Canham-James

I am talking very small numbers, it just happened to have come up recently. A couple were actually early fails, which made me question whether they really were fails, or should be withdrawals. I'm told they did have exams scheduled earlier than planned (these are adult courses with no fixed cohort end), and they attended some, but not all, exams. We were debating if that should stay as a fail, or be switched to a withdrawal.

So you're right, if they're withdrawals, we could lose some payments that I'd argue we are due, as they basically did finish everything.


Kelly Knights

For AEB if a learner attendes all planned lessons but was not certificated we would record as a completion and fail rather than a withdrawal.

This is how we have done things for years and it’s never been questioned.


Ruth Canham-James

Kelly Knights Yes, I think if we can evidence the fail (registered for exams, record of non-attendance), then I can't see that we'd be questioned.

It wasn't a daft question though, as clearly not everyone has the same understanding!

Kelly Knights

We have also failed if they completed all learning but have not completed all elements of their portfolio to allow us to certificate them. Or maybe we asked the learner to work on portfolio corrections and they go awol