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Ofqual: vocational qualifications to come under greater scrutiny

Exam regulator Ofqual is changing the way it regulates vocational qualifications as part of a wider effort to improve quality.

It announced today that it will remove the accreditation requirement for most vocational qualifications in England and Northern Ireland from 3 November. This means that instead of having to meet a list of specifications to gain accreditation in a one-off exercise, qualifications will come under scrutiny at various stages to make sure they are of good quality.

The move follows a public consultation over the summer and is part of a renewed focus on vocational qualifications by Ofqual.

Chief regulator Glenys Stacey said it was wrong to assume accreditation gave a “lifelong seal of approval”.

“We know that developing a qualification is only the beginning and we want to be sure that it is of a high standard at every stage after that,” she said. “The changes we are making do not provide awarding bodies with a licence to put poor qualifications into the system.

“We’re adding additional checks to make sure that poor qualifications are identified and removed and action taken if necessary.

“Qualifications must comply with our general conditions of recognition and awarding bodies can expect to have their qualifications checked at any time.”

Ms Stacey said Ofqual wanted employers to be able to trust the qualifications they use to recruit and develop staff, and for students to know they will help “open doors” for them.

Vocational qualification provider City & Guilds welcomed the move. Patrick Craven, head of learning, assessment and design practice at the body, said: “Removal of initial accreditation requirements for some qualifications does not mean a diluting of rigour and accountability, but rather it should promote good quality at the design, delivery and awarding stages.

“These elements of review have always formed the foundation of what it means to offer credible vocational qualifications that are trusted and respected by employers and learners.”

Related stories:

Ofqual to increase focus on vocational qualifications – July 2014

Vocational education gets ‘focus it deserves’ – July 2014

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