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Ofqual to scrap 'prescriptive' QCF

The controversial Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) is to be scrapped, Ofqual has announced.

The qualifications regulator says it is making the changes so that "high-quality vocational qualifications can be designed around the needs of employers, rather than a prescriptive set of rules". It also claims that removing the “one-size-fits-all” regulations surrounding the framework will lead to courses that “respond more effectively to innovations in professional practice”.

Shared QCF units will be withdrawn from summer 2015 after further consultation on the technical details. Some “good” qualifications will be retained, while “invalid” ones will be “redeveloped or withdrawn”, Ofqual has said.

The QCF was introduced in 2009 to offer a wider range of learners access to qualifications. Drawn up with the help of employers, it brought together all vocational qualifications for the first time.

The QCF was designed to recognise smaller steps of learning and enable students to build up qualifications bit by bit, allowing them to drop out of education if necessary and resume at a later date without having to repeat their learning.

But Jeremy Benson, Ofqual’s executive director for vocational qualifications, said: “The QCF ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach just isn’t right for every qualification. When we lift the QCF rules, good qualifications that meet those rules can stay; we will expect invalid qualifications to be redeveloped or withdrawn.

“Ending shared units will also mean that awarding bodies take clear and sole responsibility for the quality of every single part of their qualifications.

“Vocational qualifications have an important role to play in strengthening skills and supporting economic growth. Removing the QCF rules means that awarding bodies will be able to design qualifications that better meet the needs of employers and respond more effectively to innovations in professional practice.”

Mr Benson added that the transition would take place slowly to minimise the disruption for providers and awarding bodies.

Nigel Whitehead, commissioner for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), led a review of vocational qualifications for the government in 2013 and gave his backing to the changes.

“My review found that the QCF rules have been responsible for a rigid tick-box approach to assessment. Rules on unit-sharing have reduced employer involvement and sector expertise in qualifications,” he said.

Related stories:

FE sector still wrapped up in red tape, says National Audit Office - December 2014

New post-16 qualifications to tackle 'maths gap' after GCSE - December 2014

Why the QCF is tying FE in knots - January 2011

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