Main trends for quarter 1 2018
- Just over 1 million certificates were awarded in 2018 Q1, a decrease of 5.7% on the same quarter of 2017.
- The decline is mostly due to a decrease in the number of certificates in QCF and Other General Qualifications; the decrease has been offset by the large increase in the number of certificates in Vocationally-Related Qualifications and Occupational Qualifications.
- The general decline in the number of certificates may be caused by a tightening in the availability of funding. This is notable at Level 2 qualifications. Some of this decline has been offset by the large increase in the number of certificates in Level 3 qualifications. This change could be driven by changes in the performance tables as Applied General qualifications (Level 3) grow in popularity.
- The decline in the number of certificates in Functional Skills is likely due to the changes in funding rules by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and revised guidance from DfE that post 16 students who have a grade D/grade 3 in English or maths must now be entered for GCSE resits rather than Functional Skills. In addition, colleges are also incentivised to enter students with grade E for GCSE as they gain more credit for distance travelled by improving a GCSE grade than for Functional Skills attainment.
- Large increases in the number of certificates were seen in Occupational Qualifications (140%) and Vocationally-Related Qualifications (117%). This is likely caused by awarding organisations re-assigning the qualification type of QCF qualifications to Occupational Qualifications or Vocationally-Related Qualification. Following the closure of the QCF unit bank and introduction of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), Ofqual decided that inclusion of the term ‘QCF’ in qualification titles after 31 December 2017 would be an indicator of non-compliance with Ofqual’s titling rules. As well as amending qualification titles, awarding organisations are therefore likely to be re-assigning the qualification type. A concession to the inclusion of the term “QCF” has been given to Applied General qualifications that have similar titles but differing assessment (pre-existing and newly introduced with 40% assessment) allowing differentiation between them.
- The sector subject area with a notable increase in the number of certificates was Construction, Planning and the Built Environment.
- The sector subject areas with notable decrease in the number of certificates were Information and Communication Technology and Retail and Commercial Enterprise; Languages, Literature and Culture; and, Arts, Media and Publishing.
- The decline in the number of certificates in Information and Communication Technology is due to the sharp drop in the number of certificates in BCS Level 2 ECDL Certificate in IT Application Skills compared to Q1 in 2017, most likely due to its removal from the performance tables.
- The qualification with the highest number of certificates this quarter was QA Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work (RQF), followed by TCL Entry Level Certificate in ESOL International - Speaking and Listening (Entry 3) and FAA Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work.
- A number of qualifications having high number of certificates this quarter are new level 3 qualifications, which were not available to certificate in the same quarter in the previous year. Many of these are first aid qualifications. This is due to the First Aid Awarding Organisations Forum (FAAOF) review of the Emergency First Aid at Work qualification and that these should be relevelled from Level 2 to Level 3 in England.
The data cover regulated qualifications in England.
Until Q3 2017 Ofqual published data for Wales and Northern Ireland as well. However, following a transition arrangement with Qualifications Wales (the regulator in Wales) and CCEA (the regulator in Northern Ireland), the responsibility for publishing data for learners in Wales and Northern Ireland for the academic year 2017/18 and beyond has been passed to Qualifications Wales and CCEA respectively.
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