Common sense amid the chaos

19th August 2016 at 01:00
Brexit means Brexit…but it doesn't mean that the government hasn't been pressing on with its plans to overhaul post-16 education

Remember the Skills Plan? You know, that game-changing bit of policy that was going to result in the biggest overhaul of post-16 education since the creation of A levels.

Only it’s ended up being somewhat overshadowed by our impending departure from the European Union, and the apparent meltdown in the machinery of government.

Anyway, while everyone’s been too busy frantically selling shares, weeping in a corner or hurling themselves off a cliff to finish reading Lord Sainsbury’s comprehensive bit of work, it seems diligent civil servants have been pressing ahead with the plans behind the scenes.

For those of us who don’t count Ofqual regulations among our favourite bedtime reading, what does this all mean?

Last week Ofqual sneaked out a notice about its review of qualifications regulations in light of the plan. It had already announced proposals to remove about 2,000 qualifications from the register; now it wants to focus on “improving the quality of entry-level qualifications and reducing the regulatory burden”. Sexy stuff.

What it all comes down to is getting rid of the 2011 criteria for entry-level qualifications. “We believe these regulations aren’t necessary to regulation of qualifications at entry level and are an unnecessary burden. They duplicate many requirements in other regulations,” Ofqual reckons. “Where they do add further regulations, we believe they might constrain the most effective design of qualifications, preventing them from meeting users’ needs.”

Strong words. But for those of us who don’t count Ofqual regulations among our favourite bedtime reading, what does this all mean?

Having pored over the document, armed with Red Bull and Pro Plus, FErret can reveal there’s really only one consequence that matters. The criteria that may be scrapped specify that entry-level qualifications must consist of at least 50 per cent external assessment for national curriculum subjects, or 40 per cent for all other subjects.

“We are concerned that such requirements might not necessarily lead to the most valid qualifications,” the consultation states.

So while GCSEs and A levels are going to be virtually all about external assessment, entry-level qualifications could go in the opposite direction. And, for once, FErret can’t help but conclude it all seems oddly sensible. He must have been out in the sun too long.

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