Schools, colleges and children's services – news story

Higher expectations on the quality of vocational qualifications

Ofqual’s approach to regulation will see higher expectations of awarding organisations and the quality of their qualifications.

As part of the changes Chief Regulator, Glenys Stacey, announced that the accreditation requirement for most qualifications will be removed from 3 November.

Instead of accreditation, vocational qualifications in England and Northern Ireland will come under scrutiny at various stages. Risk-based quality checks will be made to make sure that qualifications are valid and good quality at the design, delivery and awarding stages. The move follows a recent public consultation.

Changes to the regulation of vocational qualifications include qualification validity audits, which are already taking place, and the proposed removal of the Qualifications and Credit Framework rules.

Glenys Stacey said:

Accreditation is a check at just a single point in time, generally before a qualification is delivered. It is easy to assume that an accreditation process provides a lifelong seal of approval for a qualification, but it does not. We know that developing a qualification is only the beginning and we want to be sure that it is of a high standard at every stage after that.

The changes we are making do not provide awarding bodies with a licence to put poor qualifications into the system. We’re adding additional risk-based checks to make sure that poor qualifications are identified and removed and action taken if necessary. Qualifications must comply with our General Conditions of Recognition and awarding bodies can expect to have their qualifications checked at any time.

The accreditation requirement for GCSE and A level qualifications will remain, but this doesn’t mean that we see them as more important. Because of the nature of the qualifications, GCSEs and A levels have detailed and specific criteria to which they must be checked against, which is why they will continue to be accredited.

Removing the accreditation requirement is just one part of our work on vocational qualifications. We want employers to be able to trust the qualifications they use to recruit and develop staff. And we want students to know that doors will be open for them because of the qualifications they possess.

The announcement on accreditation was made at the Federation of Awarding Bodies conference, on Tuesday 14 October. You can read Glenys Stacey’s speech here.

For more information, journalists can contact:

Press office

For enquiries from journalists only. The press office phone is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm.