Ofqual Handbook: General Conditions of Recognition

Section C - Third parties

Rules about arrangements with third parties, including Centres and publishers

Condition C1 - Arrangements with third parties

  1. C1.1 Where an awarding organisation arranges for a third party to undertake, on its behalf, any part of the development, delivery or award of qualifications which the awarding organisation makes available, or proposes to make available, the awarding organisation must –
    1. (a) ensure that the arrangements which it establishes with that third party enable the awarding organisation to develop, deliver and award qualifications in accordance with its Conditions of Recognition, and
    2. (b) monitor and, where appropriate, enforce such arrangements so as to ensure that it is able to develop, deliver and award qualifications in accordance with its Conditions of Recognition.

C1.2 An awarding organisation must take all reasonable steps to ensure that, in making any such arrangements, it does not impose unnecessary or unduly burdensome requirements on third parties

Guidance on Condition C1

Examples of ‘positive indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • evaluates a third party’s ability and willingness to act in a way that will enable the awarding organisation to comply with the conditions before entering into an arrangement with the third party;
  • has arrangements with third parties that reflect the conditions appropriate to the third parties’ roles (examiners, IT providers, printers and couriers, for example) that enable it to meet its Conditions of Recognition;
  • has up-to-date records of the third parties with which it works and of their roles in the development, delivery and award of its qualifications;
  • makes clear to the third parties with which it works what it expects of them;
  • has acted quickly and appropriately when it has found third-party activity puts at risk its ability to comply with its Conditions of Recognition enforcing such arrangements where necessary;
  • seeks feedback from third parties on the burden of its arrangements on them and reduces any such burden where possible.

Examples of ‘negative indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is not likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • does not identify where a third party is putting its compliance with the conditions at risk;
  • breaches its conditions because of the actions of a third party;
  • places unnecessary requirements on its third parties.

Condition C2 - Arrangements with Centres

C2.1 Where a Centre undertakes any part of the delivery of a qualification on behalf of an awarding organisation, this condition applies in addition to the requirements in Condition C1.

C2.2 Where this condition applies, an awarding organisation must ensure that arrangements between it and the Centre include a written and enforceable agreement.

  1. C2.3 That agreement must in particular include provisions which –
    1. (a) require the Centre to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the awarding organisation is able to comply with its Conditions of Recognition,
    2. (b) require the Centre to take all reasonable steps to comply with requests for information or documents made by the awarding organisation or Ofqual as soon as practicable,
    3. (c) require the Centre to assist the awarding organisation in carrying out any reasonable monitoring activities and to assist Ofqual in any investigations made for the purposes of performing its functions,
    4. (d) set out all the requirements with which the Centre must comply in order to continue to deliver the qualification,
    5. (e) establish a sanctions policy to be applied in the event that the Centre fails to comply with these requirements,
    6. (f) require the Centre to retain a Workforce of appropriate size and competence to undertake the delivery of the qualification as required by the awarding organisation,
    7. (g) require the Centre to have available sufficient managerial and other resources to enable it effectively and efficiently to undertake the delivery of the qualification as required by the awarding organisation,
    8. (h) require the Centre to undertake the delivery of the qualification required by the awarding organisation in accordance with Equalities Law,
    9. (i) require the Centre to operate a complaints handling procedure or appeals process for the benefit of Learners,
    10. (j) set out any Moderation processes that the awarding organisation will undertake or that will be undertaken on its behalf,
    11. (k) specify a process to be followed in any withdrawal of the Centre (whether voluntary or not) from its role in delivering a qualification, and
    12. (l) require the Centre to take all reasonable steps to protect the interests of Learners in the case of such a withdrawal.

C2.4 In the event that the Centre withdraws from its role in delivering a qualification, the awarding organisation must take all reasonable steps to protect the interests of Learners.

  1. C2.5 The awarding organisation must, in respect of the parts of the delivery of qualifications which the Centre undertakes:
    1. (a) provide effective guidance to the Centre, and
    2. (b) make available to the Centre any information which, for the purposes of that delivery, the Centre may reasonably require to be provided by the awarding organisation.

Guidance on Condition C2

Examples of ‘positive indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • sets out clearly to Centres what it requires them to do, making necessary information available and providing appropriate support and guidance (for example training and/or publications), including:
    • the requirements the Centre must meet, including those relating to the Centre’s staff;
    • the requirements the Centre must meet and the steps it must take in the event of any incident;
    • its requirements for the delivery of any part of a qualification that a Centre undertakes on its behalf, for example arrangements for security of assessments, conduct of assessments and examinations, managing assessment and examination timetabling, management of centre-assessed work and authentication of Learners;
    • its arrangements for a Centre to report to the awarding organisation instances where its requirements are not being met;
    • any service level agreements between the awarding organisation and the Centre (for example entry requirements, registration of learners and applications for Reasonable Adjustments and Special Consideration);
    • any requirements relating to the use of third parties by Centres (for example satellite centres or training providers);
    • its arrangements for Centres to identify, investigate and report cases of suspected or actual malpractice or maladministration to the awarding organisation and the awarding organisation’s procedures for taking action;
  • uses a Centre approval process which takes reasonable steps to ensure it only enters into an agreement with a Centre that has the capacity and capability to comply with its arrangements for all qualifications it will deliver. The approval process should include an assessment of the Centre’s:
    • ability to comply with the awarding organisation’s requirements;
    • capability to deliver the qualification to the number of Learners it aims to register;
    • internal management controls;
  • maintains an up-to-date record of the Centres with which it has agreements and these agreements;
  • uses an agreement with a Centre which:
    • requires the Centre to seek written approval from the awarding organisation before permitting a third party (for example training providers or satellite centres) to deliver any part of its qualifications, including its assessments;
    • places responsibility on the Centre to monitor whether any third party involved with the delivery and assessment of the qualification on its behalf has appropriate capacity and capability;
    • requires the Centre to agree in writing to its requirements before the awarding organisation approves the use of a third party;
  • before agreeing to a Centre’s request that a third party should be involved with the delivery of any part of a qualification, assures itself that the involvement of the third party will not put at risk the Centre’s ability to comply with the agreement or the awarding organisation’s ability to comply with its Conditions of Recognition;
  • monitors Centres’ adherence to the agreements to identify Centres that are not compliant, or that are at risk of failing to comply, including through routine and unannounced visits to Centres;
  • does not approve a Centre that it cannot effectively monitor, for example because of its location;
  • ensures that Centres only register Learners for qualifications whom they reasonably expect to complete the qualification and that they have the resources, capability and capacity to deliver the qualification to the expected number of Learners;
  • provides information to Centres to enable them to take appropriate steps to identify and notify the awarding organisations of any disabled Learners for whom the awarding organisation may need to make a Reasonable Adjustment, in time for such adjustment to be made;
  • collects and analyses appropriate data and information from Centres which helps inform its view of the risk that the Centre will not comply with its requirements;
  • identifies and addresses potential or actual Centre non-compliances in a timely way;
  • investigates Centres which it believes might not be, or are not, complying with its Centre agreement;
  • where it identifies Centres which are not acting in accordance with the agreement, takes appropriate action to secure compliance, or where necessary, applies appropriate and proportionate sanctions;
  • has a credible and effective approach to the use of sanctions that encourage compliance;
  • notifies other awarding organisations and relevant agencies with a role in protecting the interests of Learners where there are issues with the actions of Centres (subject to any requirements relating to the protection of such data);
  • maintains records of interactions with Centres, including, for example, those relating to inspections or malpractice investigations and monitors and manages the risks presented by these Centres;
  • identifies risks to Learners arising from Centre closures or withdrawals and puts in place effective arrangements to manage risks to Learners, including arrangements to allow Learners to complete assessments, in line with the Centre’s contingency plans;
  • seeks feedback and keeps its arrangements with its Centres under review, using feedback to improve its procedures and ensuring that these do not impose unnecessary burdens on Centres.

Examples of ‘negative indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is not likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • enters into agreements with Centres which do not have the capability, capacity or resources to act in accordance with its agreement;
  • does not have written agreements with its Centres, or has agreements between the Centre and the awarding organisation which do not include all the provisions listed under C2.3;
  • does not monitor Centres’ compliance with the agreement in a way which would enable it to identify and take action to correct or mitigate any issues;
  • does not take responsibility for the way in which assessments are delivered by Centres, including the marking and moderation of assessments;
  • does not enforce the agreement or impose appropriate sanctions when a Centre has breached the agreement;
  • has, and takes no action against, any Centres which:
    • are not aware of their responsibilities under this agreement;
    • do not meet the requirements set by the awarding organisation and deliver qualifications in a way that is contrary to their agreement;
    • register Learners for the qualification where the Centre does not have the capacity, capability or resources to deliver the qualification to these Learners;
    • do not enable the awarding organisation to comply with the requirements of the General Conditions, for example by misrepresenting or mis-selling qualifications;
    • have not properly dealt with complaints or appeals from Learners; does not have suitable arrangements in place to ensure that Learners are not unfairly disadvantaged if a Centre withdraws from its role in delivering the qualification.

Condition C3 Arrangements with publishers

  1. C3.1 Where an awarding organisation has in place an endorsement process, the awarding organisation must:
    1. (a) take all reasonable steps to ensure that the endorsement process does not have an Adverse Effect, and
    2. (b) publish the criteria which it uses to decide whether or not to endorse a particular resource.

C3.2 For the purposes of this condition, an ‘endorsement process’ is a process by which the awarding organisation endorses resources which are designed to support the preparation of Learners and persons likely to become Learners for assessments for a qualification which it makes available or proposes to make available.

Guidance on Condition C3

Examples of ‘positive indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • considers the Adverse Effects that endorsement of resources could have when developing the criteria which it uses to decide whether or not to endorse a particular resource, and seeks to prevent or mitigate those Adverse Effects through those criteria;
  • gives clear guidelines to relevant staff and contractors on engagement with publishers seeking endorsement of their resources;
  • takes all reasonable steps to ensure that its endorsement is signalled in the same way for all endorsed resources (through, for example, the use of its logo or text expressing the endorsement), including those produced by the awarding organisation itself or an affiliate company;
  • takes all reasonable steps to ensure that publishers of endorsed resources do not market an endorsed resource in a way which implies that the resource contains privileged examiner insight or that its use is necessary for the successful completion of an assessment or qualification.

Examples of ‘negative indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is not likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • does not consider the possible Adverse Effects that endorsement of resources could have when developing the criteria which it uses to decide whether or not to endorse a particular resource, or does not seek to prevent or mitigate those Adverse Effects through those criteria;
  • does not give clear guidelines to relevant staff and contractors on engagement with publishers seeking endorsement of their resources;
  • does not take reasonable steps to ensure that its endorsement is signalled in the same way for all endorsed resources (through, for example, the use of its logo or text expressing the endorsement), including those produced by the awarding organisation itself or an affiliate company;
  • does not take all reasonable steps to ensure that publishers of endorsed resources do not market an endorsed resource in such a way as to imply that the resource contains privileged examiner insight or that its use is necessary for the successful completion of an assessment or qualification.