Accrediting qualifications: how and when we do it

Introduction

Unlike some other sectors Ofqual do not accredit or endorse organisations or the processes they follow. But to be able to award regulated qualifications you do need to be recognised by us to do so.

Instead we accredit individual qualifications. Section 138 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 allows us to set an accreditation requirement for individual qualifications (or descriptions of qualifications). And if we do then any such qualification must be accredited before it is awarded.

Qualifications that must be accredited

We have decided that the following qualifications must be accredited before they are awarded:

  • all A levels and AS levels
  • all GCSEs
  • all Technical Qualifications

Temporary suspension of accreditation requirement for GCSEs in Computer Science

Using our powers under section 138(4) of the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, we have decided that the accreditation requirement will not apply to GCSE qualifications in Computer Science between 5:00pm on 7 February 2019 and 11:59pm on 31 December 2019.

How does accreditation work?

We usually carry out accreditation towards the end of a qualification’s development and before the awarding organisation starts delivering it.

Accreditation is a spot check of a qualification’s specification and a set of specimen assessment materials (papers and mark schemes). Because it is a spot check we can only look at whether an awarding organisation’s specimen materials are of the right standard. It doesn’t guarantee that future exams will be the same quality. This means that accreditation is not always the best way to make sure qualifications are, and will continue to be, valid.

We normally only accredit GCSEs, AS levels, A levels and Technical Qualifications. This is because - unlike most other qualifications - these qualifications have detailed design rules. Accreditation allows us to check awarding organisations have followed those detailed rules.

We take a decision on whether we accredit a qualification using our accreditation criterion. We use the same criterion for all accreditation decisions.

Published 19 November 2014
Last updated 18 February 2019 + show all updates

  1. Added detail about the accreditation requirement for GCSE computer science being temporarily revised.
  2. Added information about accreditation of technical qualifications.
  3. First published.

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