This consultation has concluded

Download the full outcome

Consultation decisions: regulating performance table qualifications

Ref: Ofqual 20/6589/1PDF, 632KB, 49 pages

Detail of outcome

Our proposed approach to regulating performance table qualifications

We have decided that:

  • We will introduce Qualification Level Conditions (QLCs), requirements and guidance for performance table qualifications, that will first apply to Technical Awards listed in 2023 Key Stage 4 performance tables (and then onwards for each academic year’s listing).
  • Awarding organisations will submit their qualifications to DfE’s performance table qualifications’ approvals process in spring 2020 for review by DfE and ourselves, and we will provide advice based on our reviews to DfE (noting that the decision as to which qualifications will be included on Key Stage 4 performance tables will continue to rest with the Secretary of State for Education).
  • Qualifications will only become subject to our Performance Table Qualification QLCs once they are approved for inclusion on the Key Stage 4 performance tables as Technical Awards, and will remain subject to them for as long as they are included on performance tables. If they are no longer included on, or are withdrawn from, performance tables, they will be subject to a managed exit.

Qualification purpose

We have decided that:

  • Awarding organisations must ensure that their Technical Awards meet the general purposes, providing -
  1. Users of the qualification with reliable evidence of Learners’ attainment in relation to the knowledge, skills and understanding assessed as part of the qualification (General Purpose A)
  2. Learners with a breadth and depth of study of a sector or broad occupational group (but not a particular occupation or skill), to prepare them for further study (General Purpose B)
  3. a basis for schools and colleges to be held accountable for the performance of their Learners (General Purpose C), and
  4. a course of learning with which Learners can suitably engage (General Purpose D).
  • Awarding organisations should set out specific purposes for their qualifications, which should be in line with the general purposes and explain in their assessment strategies how their qualifications are designed to fulfil these.
  • If a trade-off between the general purposes might have to be made during qualification design, awarding organisations should ensure that their qualification provides an engaging course of learning (General Purpose D) without compromising General Purposes A, B and C.
  • We will disapply General Conditions E1.1 and E1.2, which relate to our requirements that qualifications must have an objective.
  • Awarding organisations should design their Technical Awards so that they promote achievement of holistic understanding, with assessment design providing opportunities (appropriate to the subject) to assess how far students have developed a broad understanding across the qualification content.

Qualification design

We have decided that:

  • Technical Awards should have at least 120 guided learning hours, and that awarding organisations should assign TQT to their qualifications as well. We will disapply General Condition E7, which relates to assigning TQT and introduce a specific QLC about this.
  • Awarding organisations should ensure that the content that will be assessed is appropriate in relation to the qualification purposes, qualification level, approaches to assessment and the qualification size, and they will demonstrate this through their assessment strategy.
  • Technical Awards should be assigned to either levels 1 or 2 or both levels. We will disapply General Condition E9, which is about assigning levels to qualifications.

Assessment methodology and weighting

We have decided that:

  • Awarding organisations must ensure that at least 40% of the total marks for a Technical Award are made available through an assessment by examination, with the remaining percentage of the total marks available through non-exam assessment.
  • An assessment by examination should be defined as an assessment which is: set by the awarding organisation; taken under conditions specified by the awarding organisation; and, designed to be taken simultaneously by all relevant students.
  • We will not require that assessment by examination is in the form of a written test, which also means that we will not provide guidance on written tests and do not need to provide the opportunity to apply for exemption from using a written test.
  • We will not allow awarding organisations to apply for exemption from the requirement that the assessment by examination should account for at least 40% of the overall qualification marks.

Setting the assessments

We have decided that:

  • Awarding organisations should set assessments by examination and set out the specific conditions for taking that assessment.
  • Awarding organisations should set non-exam assessments, but allow limited adaptation of contexts in Technical Award non-exam assessments.
  • Awarding organisations should explain in their assessment strategies the controls in place around delivery, including setting appropriate conditions for sitting assessments and providing clear guidance to teachers about the level of support they might provide while assessment is undertaken.

Marking the assessments

We have decided that:

  • Awarding organisations should mark their assessments by examination, and that the marking should use a numerical mark-based approach.
  • Centres can undertake the marking of non-exam assessments, as well as, or instead of, awarding organisations, and that the marking should use a numerical mark-based approach. An awarding organisation will be able to apply from exemption from numerical marking.
  • Technical Awards will be added to the list of qualifications for which we will require moderation of all centre-marked assessments.

Assessment availability

We have decided that:

  • Each Technical Award’s assessment by examination should be designed to be taken simultaneously by all relevant students. Awarding organisations may apply for exemption from the requirement for simultaneous sitting.
  • Awarding organisations should provide up to two set dates in each academic year for all relevant students to take the assessment simultaneously; but that we will not set the windows within which such dates should be set.
  • We will not put in place any particular restriction on the number of times a student might resit an assessment by examination.
  • Awarding organisations should put in place up to two deadlines each academic year for centres to submit outcomes from non-exam assessments; but that we will not set the windows within which such deadlines should be set.
  • We will not impose any particular restrictions around re-taking non-exam assessments.

Terminal assessment

We have decided that:

  • Awarding organisations must ensure that students take an assessment by examination through which at least 40% of the total marks for the qualification are available in the final assessment series and that the result achieved in the assessment by examination in that series is used towards the student’s overall qualification grade.

Setting the specified levels of attainment

We have decided that:

  • A Technical Award should have no fewer than three grades (such as pass, merit, distinction) and no more than four grades for a qualification at either level 1 or level 2, or no more than eight grades for a qualification that spans both levels 1 and 2 (such as level 1 pass, merit, distinction, level 2 pass, merit, distinction, distinction*). An unclassified or ungraded outcome should also be provided.
  • We will keep the concept of a common grading approach under consideration.
  • All assessments should use a compensatory approach to combining students’ marks within an individual assessment, but that awarding organisations will be able to apply for an exemption to this (if they have also applied for exemption from non-exam assessment numerical marking).
  • We will not require any particular approach to aggregation, and will introduce a must-pass requirement.
  • Awarding organisations may publish information, in advance of assessments being taken, about how they intend to set specified levels of attainment but should make clear that any grading detail provided may be subject to change.

Setting standards

We have decided that:

  • We will not impose any particular approach to setting and maintaining standards.
  • Awarding organisations should ensure their approach to the setting and maintenance of standards promotes consistency between students’ levels of attainment in a qualification and across qualifications made available by other awarding organisations in similar subject areas.
  • Awarding organisations should take into account an appropriate range of evidence when setting and maintaining standards.
  • Where there are optional routes of study in a qualification, awarding organisations should explain how they will set and maintain standards between the routes in their assessment strategies.

Other requirements for qualifications approved for performance table lists

We have decided that:

  • We will not put in place a QLC about data collection.
  • Awarding organisations must make it clear to us when an event notification they make relates to a Technical Award.
  • We will put in place requirements to manage the withdrawal of qualifications from the QLCs, and that awarding organisations must tell us when one of their qualifications is proposed to be removed from a performance table list, explain the circumstances for this and request that the QLCs no longer apply.

Potential additional requirements for qualifications approved for performance table lists

We have decided that:

  • We will look in more detail at the potential introduction of requirements for the review of marking, moderation and appeals for Technical Awards.
  • We will not look to introduce rules around branding of Technical Awards at this time.

Assurance of awarding organisation design choices

We have decided that:

  • Awarding organisations must develop an assessment strategy for each qualification they want to put forward for consideration to be included as a Technical Award in DfE’s Key Stage 4 performance tables list.

Qualification Level Conditions, requirements and guidance

We have decided that:

  • We will publish QLCs, requirements and guidance for performance table qualifications.

Feedback received

Analysis of Consultation Responses: regulating performance table qualifications

Published: PDF, 596KB, 53 pages

Detail of feedback received

18 people responded to the questions. A further 27 people attended a consultation event and we held individual meetings with awarding organisations.

Personal/organisational responseRespondent typeNumber
Organisational responseAwarding Organisations8
Personal responseTeacher5
Other representative groupUnion2
Other representative groupOther group3

Respondents indicated that they were based in either England, Wales or the United Kingdom.

Original consultation

Summary

Consultation on Ofqual’s approach to regulating the Technical Award qualifications listed on school and college performance tables by the Department for Education.

This consultation ran from
to

Consultation description

Earlier this year we confirmed our intention to launch a programme of work designed to strengthen our regulation of existing technical and vocational qualifications used in performance tables for school and college accountability purposes. These qualifications play a key part in many young people’s lives. We want to ensure they are as good as they can be so that students who take them, those who teach them and those who rely on them, such as colleges and employers, can understand and be confident in these qualifications.

This consultation sets out our proposed approach to regulating the Technical Award qualifications that will be listed on the Department for Education’s (DfE) Key Stage 4 performance tables for the 2023 tables onwards. The proposals are intended to enhance the validity of qualifications and to better align our regulation with the Department for Education’s (DfE) requirements for vocational and technical qualifications on performance tables. The consultation explains the rules we propose to put in place, covering aspects including the design, delivery and awarding of Technical Awards.

Consultation event

We are holding an event for awarding organisations at our offices in Coventry on 22 November 2019. This event provides an opportunity to find out more and to ask questions about our proposals.

Find out more and reserve your place on our Eventbrite page.

Documents

Regulating Performance Table Qualifications

Ref: Ofqual/19/6552/1PDF, 556KB, 55 pages

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need aversion of this document in a more accessible format, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Advertisement

Performance Table Qualification Qualification Level Conditions

Ref: Ofqual/19/6552/2PDF, 521KB, 43 pages

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need aversion of this document in a more accessible format, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Performance Table Qualification Qualification Level Guidance

Ref: Ofqual/19/6552/3PDF, 270KB, 6 pages

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need aversion of this document in a more accessible format, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Published 21 October 2019
Last updated 18 February 2020 + show all updates
  1. Consultation decisions and analysis of responses published.

  2. First published.