Written to correct any misconceptions contained in the article, ‘Qualifications Wales: the penalty cap has to fit’ published on 22 January 2019.

As the regulator our principal aims relate to protecting the interests of learners with the focus very much on prevention, not penalties.

It’s clear in Welsh Government’s consultation document titled, ‘Qualifications Wales (monetary penalties) Regulations’ that the proposal is for a cap at 10% of UK turnover.

This is very different to the impression given in the article that an awarding body would automatically have to pay 10%.

The reality is that in each case where a monetary penalty is being considered, the circumstances of the case will be looked at in detail. Any penalty must be demonstrably proportionate to the issue at hand.

The report also raises the concerns that Qualifications Wales and Ofqual may each impose a penalty of 10% on an awarding body – in effect imposing a double penalty on an awarding body.

Our policy document, ‘Taking action when things go wrong’, makes it clear that we would automatically consider any relevant action taken by any other regulatory body in respect of the same or related matter.

This means that it is highly unlikely that we would seek to impose a monetary penalty where Ofqual had already done so, and in any event, we would need to be mindful of Ofqual’s actions or intended actions.

Our ‘Taking action when things go wrong’ policy clearly states that monetary penalties are a significant sanction that will usually only be considered if other actions to prevent or mitigate an adverse effect on learners have been insufficient.

We do not anticipate using this power lightly or frequently – indeed, as long as awarding bodies remain compliant with our regulatory requirements and protect the interests of learners, they should not consider themselves to be at risk of monetary policies.

Philip Blaker, Chief Executive, Qualifications Wales

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