Specifications that use this resource:

Notes and guidance: non exam assessment (NEA)

This guide provides the information you need to help your students complete the NEA speaking, listening and communicating component of their English Functional Skills qualification. We recommend you read it alongside the specification.

What are the NEA requirements for English Functional Skills?

All schools and colleges must ensure each student is set two tasks for the speaking, listening and communicating (SLC) assessment.

Both Level 1 and 2 include one discussion task and one presentation task. Discussions and presentations can vary in length, depending on the task set.

Our suggestion for timings is 10 to 15 minutes for the discussion and 3 to 5 minutes for the presentation.

The term presentation means an extended talk from an individual. It’s designed to show the students’ ability to talk freely about a topic without reading a fully prepared script. Accessing written notes is perfectly acceptable.

The term ‘discussion’ means a spoken exchange of information, ideas or opinions between two or more people.

Students are expected to take part in more than one discussion and presentation. For advice and ideas for presentation and discussion activities, you can check the specification.

Performance will be assessed against the criteria shown below, which is issued by all exam boards. The criteria should be used alongside the requirements listed in the scope of study for speaking, listening and communicating detailed in section 3.3 of the specification.

A Candidate Record Form (CRF) must be completed for each student. Use this to record each student’s achievements across the scope of study using the pass criteria below.

Criteria for a Pass

To secure a pass, student presentations and discussions should be:

  • consistent
  • effective, and
  • to an appropriate degree for that level.

General advice

We recommend you include the following techniques in your lessons.

  • Plan your work in SLC as part of the whole course. Do not see it as an add-on. Developing language skills through talking also helps improve reading and writing.
  • Use group discussion work as often as you can. It may become a springboard for individual presentations.
  • Show your colleagues and students some examples of our standardising material. This is available from the Teacher Online Standardisation platform (T-OLS).
  • Plan ahead for when you think your students will be ready for assessments in both aspects of SLC. In many cases it will be better if students do their group assessment first.
  • Check filming equipment works for sound (you need to be able to hear the students clearly, with minimal outside disruption). Be prepared to film more than once.
  • Make sure you film plenty of students (where appropriate) for each level. Do not just film the minimum number.
  • Make sure your students are used to and comfortable with being filmed.
  • Check that tasks and approaches are appropriate for each individual and the level they are aiming for. Groups can be in sizes of 2, 3 or 4. Presentations do not have to be held in front of the whole class.
  • Give students at least two attempts to practice their discussions and presentations.
  • Encourage your students to follow their interests, but shape them into suitable and assessable tasks. Feel free to give direction to those who need it.

Instructions for the audio visual submission of material

Each exam series, we’ll ask you to send us a sample of your students’ audio-visual recordings. You will have to do this by a set date, which can be found at aqa.org.uk/deadlines.

Along with the recording, you need to include information to help us match each student with their presentation.

Students should identify themselves and their school or college at the start of the recording by either holding an A4 written sign to the camera or by stating their name and centre.

You’ll need to complete a Candidate Record Form for every student, which will include your given judgement of pass/fail. Make sure you include written evidence to support your decision.

Please send samples for both Level 1 and 2. Your students’ presentation recordings must be complete and unedited. Make sure you include any questions and feedback from the audience. Each sample must contain ten student presentations. If you make entries of less than ten, you need to send us the recordings for each student. Any general chat at the beginning or end of the recording which isn’t part of the assessment should not be included.

We recommend you record slightly more than the minimum recordings required.

Make sure you plan where and when to conduct your audio-visual recording sessions in advance. Spoken Language assessments can take place at any time during the two-year course, as long as the sample of audio-visual recordings is submitted by the deadline given at aqa.org.uk/deadlines.

Audio-visual recordings should be conducted in an organised and structured way. Each recording should be named as follows:

  • 5 digit centre number
  • component code (8720S for Level 1, 8725S for Level 2)
  • either:
    • a single 4 digit candidate number or
    • multiple 4 digit candidate numbers, separated by a space
  • description, which should include:
    • candidate name (forename and surname)
    • outcome of the spoken presentation (Pass or Fail)

Each piece of information must be separated by an underscore (_)

eg individual files:

92345_8720S_0001_Joe Bloggs Pass.mp4

92345_8720S_0005_Jane Doe Pass.mp4

92345_8720S_0010_John Smith Fail.mp4

eg single file with multiple candidates:

92345_8720S_0001 0005 0010_Joe Bloggs Pass - Jane Doe Pass - John Smith Fail.mp4

You can record the presentations on whichever audio-visual recording device you have available. This could include a webcam, video recorder or tablet. Each recording must be good quality. The image of the student must be stable and clear and any participants in the assessment (including the student and audience members), must be clearly audible. It’s your responsibility to ensure that the image and sound on each recording is good quality. Awarding bodies won’t be able to verify the school/college assessment of Spoken language if the recording is poor.

Six ways to create a good quality audio-visual recording

  1. Check the quality of recording equipment in advance of conducting the recorded assessments.
  2. Make sure the recording equipment is stable.
  3. Position the recording equipment from the audience’s perspective so that the student and any support materials used in the presentation, such as PowerPoint or notes are in view.
  4. Position the recording equipment close enough to hear the student and audience members clearly.
  5. Remove any objects which may obstruct the image and/or sound of the recording.
  6. Conduct recordings in a quiet environment to reduce background noise.

Which recording format should you use?

The following video formats are supported:

.flv  .mp4  .mxf  .gxf  .ts  .ps  .3gp  .3gpp  .mpg  .wmv  .asf  .avi  .isma  .ismv  .dvr-ms  .mkv  .wave  .mov

It’s important that your recordings are of sufficient quality for verifiers to identify students and assess their performance fairly. Please try to avoid submitting excessively large files. Recordings don’t need to include slide presentations. You can send us your slide presentations separately.

How to minimise your file size

  • Record high-definition video at a resolution of 720p (1280x720) rather than 1080p (1920x1080). A resolution of 720p will result in files less than half the size of 1080p, usually with no significant impact on quality.
  • If your video recorder permits other quality settings to be changed in addition to the resolution, it’s often possible to significantly reduce file sizes while not significantly impacting quality.

You may choose to film each student in the sample in individual sessions. Or, you may prefer to film multiple students in each session. If you choose the latter, remember to identify the individual clearly at the start and end of the assessment.

The Spoken Language assessment should be conducted as a formal exam session where possible. Mobile phones are banned and no one should enter or leave the room during presentations. The audience may respond as a normal audience, but they must not distract the presenter. Interruptions must be kept to a minimum.

We recommend you check the recordings when completed to ensure that they can be played back. It’s your responsibility to ensure the recordings submitted for monitoring are accessible and contain all the evidence submitted for each student.


Audio-visual recordings must be stored electronically in a secure area of your school/college network before being submitted.

Uploading samples on Centre Services - Centre marks submission

Schools/colleges can submit their grades for each candidate using Centre Services - Centre marks submission or by EDI (Electronic Data Interchange).

Once the grade submission is complete, samples must be uploaded via the 'View and upload sample' screen on Centre marks submission regardless of how the grades were submitted.

Each uploaded file must be tagged (associated) with the relevant candidate.  If the filename convention has been followed correctly, this step is done automatically

The final step is to tick a checkbox onscreen and formally ‘submit’ the sample for moderation.

We don’t provide feedback to schools/colleges after monitoring. If we have concerns about what you’ve sent us, we’ll arrange a visit to go through them together. We’ll also provide support and guidance to help you meet our standards and requirements in the future.

Visits to centres

Approximately one third of schools/colleges entering the speaking, listening and communicating component each year will receive a personal visit from us. This doesn’t mean there’s a problem, we just like to give you the chance to ask us questions/raise any concerns you may have.

Visits also help us check that you’re assessing the component to the right standard and have the necessary records and paperwork to support the assessments being made. The only other reason we’ll visit, is if we have concerns over the moderation of the audio-visual samples you sent us, or the assessments being made by the teachers. You’ll find out if we’ll be visiting you, early in the autumn term. We usually come in November or December.

We aim to visit every school/college at least once every three years.

What happens when we visit you?

  • We observe assessments being undertaken or review video evidence of student performances.
  • We observe assessment/standardisation being undertaken by assessors at that centre.
  • We review your centre’s processes and controls.
  • We interview key centre staff with responsibility for the delivery.

For further support, please get in touch with your NEA adviser. They will help you with the NEA component. We’ll let you know who your NEA advisor is in the autumn term but if you don’t hear from us, email your subject team at english-gcse@aqa.org.uk