News story

Awarding organisations must justify sizes of qualifications

Ofqual has reminded awarding organisations that they must justify the sizes allocated to many of their qualifications by the end of June.

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The sizes must be consistent with our new descriptive framework for regulated qualifications, and if we find that an awarding organisation has not followed our criteria, we will consider enforcement action. The outcome of any action may have an impact on a qualification’s place upon performance tables.

The deadline is part of a staggered introduction of rules announced in September, to make sure qualifications are appropriately described by awarding organisations.

The rules mean that every new qualification introduced since October 2015 must have a Total Qualification Time (TQT) value and a value for the number of Guided Learning (GL) hours to determine a qualification’s size. TQT includes all the time needed to gain a qualification, including teaching (Guided Learning Hours, or GLH), assessment and other study.

We wrote to awarding organisations on Tuesday (26 April) regarding qualifications that existed before October 2015. We have specified a group of qualifications that must have a TQT value by 30 June this year. We will start auditing awarding organisations after this date to ensure the rules are being followed.

Ian Pursglove, Associate Director of Standards for Literacy and Numeracy Qualifications at Ofqual, said: “Our priority is ensuring that qualifications can be trusted, are valid and appropriate to their respective level and size. Evidence must be provided to back up awarding organisations’ claims about their qualifications.”

By 30 June 2016, qualifications in the following categories must be assigned a TQT value, and where appropriate GL:

  • Qualifications that at 30 June 2016 are approved for use in DfE’s KS4 or KS5 school performance measures
  • Qualifications in respect of which an awarding organisation intends to make an application for approval for use in DfE’s KS4 or KS5 school performance measures
  • Qualifications that at 30 June 2016 have been allocated a UCAS tariff value
  • Qualifications in respect of which an awarding organisation intends to make an application for a UCAS tariff (other than GCSEs, AS, A levels and Functional Skills qualifications)

All other qualifications must be assigned a TQT, and where appropriate, a GL value no later than 31 December 2017.

The newsletter item sent out to awarding organisations is below.

Total Qualification Time reminder

This is a reminder about the new Conditions, requirements and guidance, that came into force on 1 October 2015. General Condition E7 and the Total Qualification Time Criteria set out the new requirements on qualification size.

Awarding organisations must now allocate a measure of size, expressed in terms of Total Qualification Time (TQT) and Guided Learning (GL), to all new qualifications submitted to the Register.

We have decided to phase the introduction of the new requirements for existing qualifications. By 30 June 2016, qualifications in the following categories must be assigned a TQT value, and where appropriate GL, and have updated their specifications:

  • Qualifications that at 30 June 2016 are approved for use in DfE’s KS4 or KS5 school performance measures
  • Qualifications in respect of which an awarding organisation intends to make an application for approval for use in DfE’s KS4 or KS5 school performance measures
  • Qualifications that at 30 June 2016 have been allocated a UCAS tariff value
  • Qualifications in respect of which an awarding organisation intends to make an application for a UCAS tariff (other than GCSEs, AS, A levels and Functional Skills qualifications)

All other qualifications must be assigned TQT and, where appropriate, a GL value no later than 31 December 2017.

We have allowed additional time before bringing the new requirements into force for existing qualifications, so that you can review them and make evidence based decisions about the TQT and, where appropriate, GL allocations. We encourage you to move to full compliance with the new requirements as soon as possible.

We will be seeking assurances that every awarding organisation is making progress towards complying in full with the provisions by the required dates, this will include audit activity shortly after the 30 June 2016 date.

Published 27 April 2016