Who regulates the vocational qualifications in England?
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. They regulate the following qualifications, examinations and assessments in England:
- A levels
- AS levels
- Vocational and technical qualifications
Ofqual is independent of government and reports directly to Parliament. They are responsible for making sure that regulated qualifications reliably indicate the knowledge, skills and understanding students have demonstrated; assessments and exams show what a student has achieved; people have confidence in the qualifications that they regulate and students and teachers have information on the full range of qualifications that they regulate.
Vocational qualifications refer to work-related qualifications which is designed to enable the learner to acquire knowledge, skills and practical abilities that are required to be able to perform a particular job in a specific industry sector.
Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)
Since the introduction of Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) in 2008, there have been some concerns that the QCF did not always meet the needs of employers and learners, and that it created a system that encouraged generic and ‘one size fits all’ qualifications. Ofqual officially launched the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) on 1 October 2015 aimed to improve simplicity and learning outcomes replacing the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).
Ofqual regulates to begin describing the size of their qualifications using Total Qualification Time (TQT). TQT is an indication of how long a typical learner might take to study a qualification, including the time spent on their individual study and on assessment. It also includes Guided Learning Hours (GLH), which is the time typically spent being taught or supervised.
As some learners will study faster or slower than others, so size really is a guide, not an absolute. The TQT and GLH help training providers to better plan timetables and help employers get an understanding of how long an employee might need to be away from work to study, or to help learners understand time dedicated to achieving their qualification.
RQF uses the qualification levels to indicate the difficulty and complexity of the knowledge and skills associated with any qualification. There are eight levels supported by three ‘entry’ levels. The RQF maps to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, as well as to the European Qualifications Framework. The qualifications can be valuable for those looking for jobs or seeking to employ people from across the European and internationally.
The level descriptors are more outcomes-focused, covering both academic and vocational qualifications, and setting out the ‘skills’ and ‘knowledge and understanding’ that learners might typically expect of someone with a qualification at that level.
Please find more information about RQF in the video ‘Introducing the RQF’ at Ofqual’s YouTube channel at the link: https://youtu.be/G0mRXvDZ8Uc
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GOV(2019) Ofqual. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual [Accessed 19 July 2019].
GOV (2019a) After the QCF: A New Qualifications Framework. [Online] Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/461401/after-the-qcf-a-new-qualifications-framework-decisions-on-conditions-and-guidance-for-the-rqf.pdf [Accessed 19 July 2019].
GOV (2019b) Regulated Qualifications Framework. [Online] Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/753486/RQF_Bookcase.pdf [Accessed 19 July 2019].