Awarding organisations: understanding our regulatory requirements

Find out what regulatory requirements apply to your awarding organisation and your qualifications.

All awarding organisations must continually meet Ofqual’s regulatory requirements - the rules we set to make sure qualifications are valid and fit for purpose.

There are 2 main types of requirements. Those that apply to:

  • all awarding organisations and all regulated qualifications
  • specific types of regulated qualification

We also sometimes place additional requirements on individual awarding organisations; we call these special conditions. For example we might choose to apply a special condition to make sure an awarding organisation follows through on commitments they made when applying to be recognised by us.

Requirements for all awarding organisations and all regulated qualifications

Our General Conditions of Recognition set out the main rules all awarding organisations must follow. They are supported by more the detailed rules and guidance in the following 5 documents:

The Ofqual Handbook

On 12 October 2017, we published a preview version of the Ofqual handbook, a new online resource that includes all of our general requirements and guidance. We are trialling this new format until the end of the year, and encourage everyone to use it, and provide feedback on it.

Qualification-specific requirements

We have set additional, qualification-specific, rules for the following qualifications:

Some of our rules are set out in formal documents we call ‘Regulatory Documents’. All current Regulatory Documents are set out in our Regulatory Documents List.

Rules about adjustments to assessments for disabled people

All of these qualifications (except apprenticeship end-point assessments) must also comply with rules we set about adjustments to assessments for disabled people. These rules, which we set using our powers under the Equality Act 2010, also apply to the following qualifications:

  • Cambridge international certificates
  • Cambridge pre-university qualifications
  • entry-level certificates in GCSE subjects
  • free-standing mathematics qualifications
  • international baccalaureate diplomas
  • principal learning qualifications

Other requirements

The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 requires us to set and publish criteria which awarding organisations must use when deciding whether a qualification is ‘relevant’ for the purposes of the Education and Skills Act 2008 (that is, whether young people might take that qualification to discharge their duty to participate in education or training).

We have published our criteria in Criteria for determining whether a qualification is relevant for the purposes of the Education and Skills Act 2008.

Regulating national assessments

Our role is to make sure that the:

  • assessments are valid and fit for purpose
  • assessments are fair and manageable
  • standards are properly set and maintained
  • results are used appropriately

We have 2 legal objectives relating to national assessments:

  • promote assessment arrangements which are valid, reliable and comparable
  • promote public confidence in the arrangements

Regulatory Framework for National Assessments

Published 19 November 2014
Last updated 26 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added new rules for Ofqual-regulated apprenticeship end-point assessments
  2. Updated following launch of beta version of Ofqual handbook.
  3. Updated following withdrawal of rules for key skills qualifications, and changes to qualifications covered by our specifications under section 96 of the Equality Act 2010
  4. Updated following withdrawal of our rules for adult literacy and numeracy qualifications
  5. Added a link to National Assessment framework.
  6. Updated to reflect withdrawal of requirements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)
  7. Updated to include documents published to support our new Regulated Qualifications Framework, and our criteria for determining whether a qualification is 'relevant' for the purposes of the Education and Skills Act 2008
  8. Added a link to the 'Regulatory Documents List'.
  9. First published.