Accreditation requirement

Accrediting qualifications: how and when we do it


Unlike some other sectors Ofqual do not accredit or endorse organisations or the processes they follow. But to be able to award regulated qualifications you do need to be recognised by us to do so.

Instead we accredit individual qualifications. Section 138 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 allows us to set an accreditation requirement for individual qualifications (or descriptions of qualifications). And if we do then any such qualification must be accredited before it is awarded.

Qualifications that must be accredited

We have decided that the following qualifications must be accredited before they are awarded:

  • all A levels and AS levels
  • all GCSEs graded A* to G
  • all GCSEs graded 9 to 1

How does accreditation work?

We usually carry out accreditation towards the end of a qualification’s development and before the awarding organisation starts delivering it.

Accreditation is a spot check of a qualification’s specification and a set of specimen assessment materials (papers and mark schemes). Because it is a spot check we can only look at whether an awarding organisation’s specimen materials are of the right standard. It doesn’t guarantee that future exams will be the same quality. This means that accreditation is not always the best way to make sure qualifications are, and will continue to be, valid.

We normally only accredit GCSEs, AS levels and A levels. This is because GCSEs, AS and A levels have detailed design rules while most other qualifications don’t. Accreditation allows us to check awarding organisations have followed those detailed rules.

We take a decision on whether we accredit a qualification using our accreditation criterion. We use the same criterion for all accreditation decisions.

Published 19 November 2014