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HMRC internal manual

VAT Education Manual

Group 6 Item 3 Examination services services including school inspections: examination services concerned with standards

Even after you have identified specialist services, you may still face the question of whether these services are truly provided with a view to ensuring educational and training standards are maintained.

For instance, it might be argued that the Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) exist precisely to fulfil this function. However, it would be nonsense to conclude from this that every specialist service supplied either by or to them automatically falls within the scope of the item 3 exemption.

Therefore, activities do not qualify as examination services unless they are directly concerned with either devising, applying, evaluating or monitoring methods of examination, assessment, accreditation, validation, certification or registration.

In other words, the exemption does not extend to projects aimed at, for example:

  • promoting and publicising vocational training opportunities in general rather than standards in particular;
  • examining the labour market and existing training opportunities as a means of identifying skill shortages and assessing training needs in a particular locality;
  • improving the performance or operational systems of local YPLAs and SFAs;
  • developing the general role of YPLAs and SFAs in promoting training and enterprise programmes;
  • introducing new learning methods and strategies;
  • advancing the use of new technology; or
  • identifying and disseminating examples of sound management practice and successful schemes.