The Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA) released its framework last week to radically transform qualifications and training programmes in the UK. The proposal sets out the methods and ways in which the existing qualification framework can be redesigned and was discussed at last weeks Partners in Learning conference in Birmingham. At the conference Nick Juba and Ruth Perry of the QCA discussed the hopes and fears of the programme, stressing the benefits the programme will bring for both learners and businesses. The proposal serves to accentuate a great deal of research and sets out its findings, steering towards this radical change in method.
The framework looked at the responses from key groups such as major educational bodies, national organisations, awarding and professional bodies, providers and employers. And though the response was promising, these groups also highlighted the potential costs of such a change and the need for more clarity in terms of explaining how the new framework would be achieved.
“These people wanted the framework to be simpler and yet there was still a desire for more information” said Juba, “and the most negative response to the publication has been that people require it to be clearer, yet almost everyone agreed that there is a need for a new structured system.”
FE and HE in a Simple System
The publication also proposes a structure that would ensure progression to not only FE but also HE by means of a simple system for the whole of the UK, as opposed to the existing system which has different qualifications in England, Scotland and Wales.
Other negative responses to the proposal focused on the foundations of the framework. Though there is broad support, some within the sector are wary of the potential cost of implementation, which Juba admitted have yet to be analysed: “There are the costs to awarding bodies and skills for business network still to be considered”. However, he counters this by arguing that costs cannot be evaluated until these groups have decided whether it will be worth it. He does admit that such changes will undoubtedly cost time and money. But he argues “it is worth the costs as in the long rung it will work out better for the learner.”
The issue of the potential costs is playing a deciding role for governing bodies, and until these costs are calculated, a concrete decision from the concerned parties is unlikely. Strong support, however, has come from FE and adult learners who are generally in favour of the proposal. The QCA hope to hold a trial of this proposal between 2006 and 2008.
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