From education to employment

Forging a new working relationship with the Institute in a changing regulatory landscape

The Institute (@IfATEched) and @Ofqual are making good progress with simplifying and strengthening the external quality assurance (#EQA) of apprenticeship end point assessment.

Writing exclusively for FE News, Rob Nitsch, Chief Operating Officer at the Institute, and Catherine Large, Executive Director of Vocational and Technical Qualifications at Ofqual, have both said how pleased they are with the exciting progress being made for apprenticeships, as over 260 standards transferred from the Institute’s EQA service to Ofqual.

Forging a new working relationship with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education in a changing regulatory landscape is the topic of discussion today (12 Nov) at the second day of FAB2021, find out what the panel have to say about this:


  • Charlotte Bosworth, Managing Director, Innovate Awarding
  • Robert Nitsch CBE, Chief Operating Officer, IfATE
  • Sarah Edmonds, Founder & Director, Artemis Associates
  • Kevern Kerswell, CEO, Open College Network West Midlands
  • Patrick Craven, Director of Policy & Strategic Partnerships, City & Guilds
  • Suzanne Hall, Head of Product: Technical, Pearson BTEC and Apprenticeships

The awarding and assessment industry celebrates success at the #FAB2021Awards as winners announced for prestigious awards for the awarding industry 

FABAwards2021 pic1

11th Nov 2021: The FAB Awards recognises the contributions made by awarding organisations and their employees to education and skills in the UK over the past year.

Now in its 6th year, the FAB 2021 Awards dinner, sponsored by Creatio, was held at the end of the first day of the FAB Conference, on 11 November at the Marriott Hotel in

Tom Bewick, Chief Executive, Federation of Awarding Bodies and presenter of Skills World Live radio show

Tom Bewick, FAB Chief Executive, said

“This year we received an abundance of excellent nominations for the FAB Awards, all of which were of a very high standard
and demonstrated the commitment of our members to learners and the sector.

“I am immensely proud of how our industry has risen to the challenges of the last two years
and I have heard and seen so many examples of excellence demonstrated by individuals and teams pulling together to support one another as well as centres,
employers and of course learners.

“It was a privilege to announce the Awards winners this evening, along with my co-host Jackie Weaver ”.

The Awards were independently judged by Rt Hon Anne Milton, Stella Mbubaegbu CBE, Executive Member of the Black FE Leadership Group and Larissa Kennedy, President of National Union of Students.

Anne Milton

On behalf of the judges, Rt Hon Anne Milton commented:

“We were incredibly impressed at how well Awarding Organisations have overcome the significant challenges they faced during the pandemic. This has only been possible due to the hard work and dedication of so many staff.

What shone through all the entries is the commitment to learners and to the sector as a whole. It was a privilege and inspiration for us to be asked to judge the entries and although not everyone is a winner, they are all worthy of special mention.”

#FAB2021 winners

Awarding Organisation of the Year – Sponsored by Creatio


EPAO of the year – Sponsored by RM

City and Guilds

Qualification of the year – Sponsored by Coelrind

Open College Network West Midlands with Level 5 Diploma in Retrofit Coordination and Risk Management

Collaboration of the Year – Sponsored by Civica

NCFE and WorldSkills UK : WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence

Learner of the Year – Sponsored by Eintech

Deepak Ranindran nominated by CMI

Individual of the Year – Sponsored by Gordon Associates

Joint winners: Kelle McQuade and Andrew Walker from Training Qualifications UK

Innovation of the year – Sponsored by Advanced Secure Technologies

CMI with Interview360 and CV360

Exporter of the Year –Sponsored by TestReach

Active IQ



For the prestigious title of awarding organisation of the year we want to know what has made your organisation exceptional this year. This may be the result of a major new development in the organisation, its qualifications or the way that it works with customers and/or learners. It may be because the organisation has made a major contribution to the development of the awarding industry or to the world of education and skills.

The awarding organisation of the year will have done more than ‘business as usual’ and be able to showcase the contribution that awarding organisations make to education and skills in the UK. We are particularly interested in hearing about how your organisation has developed inclusive practices around equality, diversity and inclusion. 


  • FutureQuals
  • Gateway Qualifications
  • The London Institute of Banking & Finance
  • Open College Network West Midlands
  • VTCT


New for 2021, for the prestigious title of End Point Assessment Organisation of the year, we want to know what has made your EPAO exceptional this year. You may be newly recognised or well-established as an EPAO, but will be able to demonstrate that you have done more than ‘business as usual’.

You will be able to showcase the contribution that your EPAO has made to learners, employers and industry. We are particularly interested in hearing about how your organisation has developed inclusive practices around equality, diversity and inclusion.


  • Training Qualifications UK
  • City & Guilds
  • SFJ Awards Ltd
  • FDQ
  • Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance
  • CMI


A qualification can be successful in different ways which can include: impressive sales that reflect its popularity, an innovative approach to the qualification and/or assessment strategy, how you have ensured your content is inclusive and meets the need of a diverse range of learners, how it meets an emerging industry need, or how it makes a major impact in a niche sector. It needs to represent good practice in awarding and so demonstrate the important contribution that qualifications make to the education and skills sector.


This award is about recognising the ways in which awarding organisations, or teams within awarding organisations/EPAOs collaborate to achieve excellence. This could be how your organisation has partnered with centres(s), suppliers, other awarding organisations/EPAOs or even how individuals have collaborated as part of a team or cross organisationally.
The winner of this award will be exceptional – they may have developed effective leading-edge practices, demonstrated excellent customer service and satisfaction, shown exceptional quality improvement or had a major impact on the organization, the awarding industry as a whole, on learners or employers. Collaboration of the year is about delivering excellent practice and/or leading-edge ideas.


  • VTCT
  • Open College Network West Midlands
  • Signature
  • Training Qualifications UK
  • CMI


This award recognises the achievements of an individual learner. The learner must have achieved a qualification from a FAB full member organisation within the last two years. A learner may be nominated because they have demonstrated a high level of skill or competence in their learning, or they may have shown exceptional resilience through the various challenges brought on by Covid-19. In any case, they will have demonstrated an enthusiasm for learning beyond the requirements of their course.


  • NCC Education – Diana Moraa Nyaata
  • Gateway Qualifications – Benjamin Clarke
  • CMI – Deepak Ravindran
  • NCFE – Katie Albert
  • Qualsafe – Jill Humphries


The objective of this award is to recognise an individual from a FAB full member organisation who has made an outstanding contribution to their awarding organisation/EPAO.


  • Training Qualifications UK (1) – Kelle McQuade
  • Training Qualifications UK (2) – Andrew Walker
  • Open College Network West Midlands – Jo Rowbotham
  • Defence Awarding Organisation (DAO) – Julie Ralph
  • FutureQuals – Chris Young
  • NCC Education – Chin Yen Ming


This award recognises the company that successfully applies any form of innovation, celebrating the ideas that have had the greatest impact on an organisation or industry.

Whether the innovation is a new product, a service or a culture of improvement, the judges will look for evidence of how the innovation has been developed and applied to improve performance, operational effectiveness or customer engagement to improve the learners’ experience and bring something new to the awarding industry.


  • CABWI Awarding Body – CABWI Click Assessment
  • Qualsafe – Qualsafe at Home
  • CMI – Interview360 and CV360


This award recognises the success of your organisation’s exports/international business this year. Whether you are new to exporting or have exported for many years, the judges will look for evidence of the export growth achieved and the organisation’s overall strategy and commitment to international business.


  • ABE Global
  • Training Qualifications UK
  • Ascentis
  • Active IQ
  • NCC Education


This special FAB Award recognises an outstanding contribution to FE and Skills during the pandemic. It can be an outstanding contribution made by an individual, team, awarding/assessment organisation or collaboration between an awarding organisation and a centre, for example.

The nomination must demonstrate an outstanding contribution to the awarding industry and/or wider FE and skills sector during the period of the various national coronavirus lockdowns, up until 19th July 2021, when most legal restrictions were lifted.


The independent judges are Rt Hon Anne Milton, Stella Mbubaegbu CBE, Black FE Leadership Group and Larissa Kennedy, NUS.

Shortlisting is undertaken by the Federation’s Senior Management Team with Gavin O’Meara, Editor at FE News.

Paul Eeles, Chief Executive, Skills and Education Group
Paul will be presenting the FAB Outstanding contribution to FE and Skills during the pandemic Award.

#FAB2021: The future of qualifications regulation across the UK

Alex Burghart MP, Minister for Skills and Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Co-Chair of the Federation of Awarding Bodies open the FAB 2021 Conference

Kate Green at #FAB2021

#FAB2021 @KateGreenSU @UKLabour talks to @FENews about the importance of #LifelongLearning and preparing young people with #SkillsForLife and the #FutureOfWork:

The Chief Regulator set out her priority to regulate on behalf of students of all ages and apprentices and welcomed a new era of co-regulation

Dr Jo Saxton, Chief Regulator, Ofqual speaking about the future of qualifications regulation across the UK

Good morning. I’m Jo Saxton. It’s absolutely brilliant to be here with all of you in person.

I’m particularly pleased that it’s with you, awarding organisations, that I get to share my first speech as Chief Regulator. It means a huge amount to me because it’s in large part thanks to you that students and apprentices, despite the enormous challenges everyone has faced, have become qualified across a wide range of qualifications, disciplines and industries.

I intend to build on the new ways of working that have been forced upon us by the COVID-19 response. I intend to mark this as a new way of regulating and a new era of co-regulation.

An era in which – as far as it is possible to do so – we create the environment in which you can innovate and evolve, so that those that we serve can be even better qualified, even better empowered for the next stages of their education and life. But this will only be attainable if we agree to head in the same direction, we need to be led by a common compass.

True north, for my tenure at Ofqual, will be students of all ages and apprentices. Why does this matter so much to me, and why do I care so passionately about qualifications?

We all know that the pandemic has exposed stark inequalities in society and in education like never before.

Now that we have seen these problems we can’t ‘unsee’ them, and it’s up to every one of us to make a difference. I know that you are already playing your part in doing that.

The profile of qualifications has never been higher – we have seen a growth in interest that started during the pandemic and we need to capitalise on that.

Just as an illustration: between April 2020 and March 2021, Ofqual’s register of qualifications was viewed 63,000 times more than it had been in the previous year.

Of course, with increased interest comes increased expectation and we need to rise to that challenge collectively.

Education is good for us, we know that. The OECD has documented that quite literally the educated live longer than the uneducated, or the lesser educated. For example, a 30-year-old leaving education around 16 is likely to live 5 years fewer than a 30-year-old who has proceeded through tertiary education. So, although it might not feel like it at the time, education is good for us.

I’m an academic by background, yet I chose to work in some of England’s toughest schools because I care that young people get the qualifications they need. Everyone deserves qualifications that will open doors for them, but the disadvantaged desperately need them. That’s what really drives me.

This realisation was brought into sharp relief for me while working to improve a group of schools on the Kent coast. Outside the grammar schools outcomes were weak, as were secure employment opportunities for the disadvantaged; and this despite some household-name employers on the doorstep. So I went to talk to them; Eurotunnel, EDF, Port of Dover, among others.

What would it take, I asked, for you to give the management track jobs, the best paid, secure roles to local kids? In part the answer was: ‘a working modern foreign language’. That single skill was the gateway to real-time digital engineering under the Channel, to chemical engineering, to collaborating with international colleagues.

Informed by this knowledge, and with a commitment from those employers for working partnerships, I led a successful bid to open a brand new school for the area. One that would bring ‘success without selection’, that would educate local children to be knowledgeable and skilled – including with a modern foreign language – so that they could be the pick of recruits for these local employers.

When I think of the power of qualifications, I think particularly of a young, aspiring engineer that I knew, let’s call him Paul.

When I first met him, his life was extremely challenging, and like many, he had caring responsibilities outside of education. He didn’t appreciate at that time how critical his mathematics was to fulfil his aspirations; he was failing at it and he was also undermining the education of others. I sat down with him and we started to talk about his aspiration. Talking in detail about the qualifications he might take post 16 to fulfil this dream, the penny dropped for him that he really, really needed that maths to succeed in the post-16 courses he wanted to do. He agreed to engage with the additional support that the school could offer him and that he would stop undermining the education of others, and I’m pleased to report he’s now a qualified and well-paid engineer.

Let me be clear, then, I see the role of a regulator as being champion for the vulnerable and for the disadvantaged. In the case of qualifications that means acting on behalf of students of all ages and apprentices; and especially those with particular protected characteristics.

Ofqual’s role in qualification reform

Clearly Ofqual has a series of statutory responsibilities – I’m not going to rehearse these for you now – you know them well enough. But for me, just as important is Ofqual’s unique position.

We have a key role to play influencing, shaping policy, making use of our expertise, the data we hold, and the unique oversight we have of the full regulated qualifications market.

As a sector it’s right that we put our collective shoulder to the wheel to tackle the negative impact that the pandemic has had on society and on the economy. We need to improve productivity, support new technologies and address skills shortages. In the years to come, Ofqual will play its part in shaping the future of assessment and qualifications. One aspect of that is, of course, government reform of technical education and the qualifications reviews. Our focus here is going to be on ensuring that qualifications are both high quality and meaningful.

The second element of Ofqual’s role that I really want to emphasise today is our ability to bring the sector together, and we do so in the interests of students and apprentices. This is our convening power – you might say.

Over the past 18 months you and Ofqual have engaged more as a regulated community than ever before. As regulator, Ofqual has worked with you to create an environment that is conducive to innovation. Many of you have seized the opportunity to harness technology to deliver innovative solutions.

Ofqual’s ability to refine and reform its framework has supported and encouraged you to do that. There have been great examples of careful and considered implementation of remote invigilation, and new uses of remote assessment – both of which enabled students and apprentices to complete their qualifications and progress in their lives. I look forward, for one, to seeing much, much more of this student-focused innovation in the weeks, months and years to come.

Driven by the challenges of the pandemic, we’ve seen the positive effect of true co-regulation for the first time. We’ve seen first-hand that you can achieve more together than you can in isolation. We’ve seen that this is as good for you as AOs, as it is for students.

The work that was done together in relation to Functional Skills is an excellent example. Together we each played our part to deliver government policy, right in the eye of the pandemic. Ofqual reinforced the policy position through our regulatory framework, and this supported you to uphold it. You worked together to achieve a consistent approach and continued to deliver assessments in an unprecedentedly challenging environment. You made sure that those students who couldn’t access assessments were able to get a result, nevertheless, to progress.

We assured government of your commitment to deliver, through our collection and presentation of your assessment data. For me, this is a blueprint of how we should work together for the future.

Where you work proactively with us, we can do our bit to make sure that our approach to regulation is right, that it is in the interests of students, and that we help to communicate and land that with students, centres, government and the public.

So I start my tenure recognising the pivotal role Ofqual must play in facilitating innovation, collaboration and driving up quality. We will continue to explore and use effective co-regulatory approaches. It’s been great to already start to have that conversation with the Federation.

I encourage awarding organisations to discuss challenges and solutions, not only with us, but with each other; to address risks, define good practice. Let’s do that together.

Ofqual may not always be able to provide all the answers, but we are very much part of the solution.

It is of course true that we need to continue to regulate effectively. Co-regulation is not to be confused with soft regulation. That wouldn’t be in your interests, nor in those of students and apprentices.

You want to know where you make substantial investments into the quality of your products that we will intervene to prevent other regulated organisations from taking short cuts. You want us to hold you to the same high standard, so that together we can achieve a market where quality is the true competitive advantage.

I want the Ofqual ‘kite-mark’ to give additional confidence to students and apprentices choosing their next step, to employers making recruitment decisions. It should be clear to all users that a regulated end point assessment is the right way to go.

I’m grateful to the Institute for the milestone decision it took last year to establish a fully regulated apprenticeships system.

I’m confident that we will continue to have a thriving market of Apprenticeship End Point Assessment Organisations to meet both apprentice and employer needs. You can be confident that our recognition bar will not drop. Quality end point assessment can only be delivered by organisations that have the expertise, governance and resource to deliver.

I hope it’s clear that my focus will be on quality for students of all ages and apprentices. Ofqual’s greatest strength in regulating on their behalf lies in our independence.

Ofqual is independent of Ministers but works closely with officials to ensure that government policy is deliverable and effective.

Of course, we are also independent from you – our regulated community. Ofqual holds each of you to account for delivery. And I firmly believe that scrutiny helps to ensure a level playing field.

When we ask you for data we can use it to monitor your performance, yes, but we can also monitor the performance of your competitors. We can use that data to assure Ministers you are on track to deliver timely and reliable outcomes, and we use it to influence policy in everybody’s interest.

The functional skills revisions are a really, really good example of that.

I spoke earlier of where my passion for qualifications comes from. All of us have a Paul who we’ve met along the way – perhaps it’s your own story or your own qualifications that motivate you.

I’d like us each to hold our Pauls in mind; not to lose sight of them in the day to day of what we do. These have been extremely difficult times for everyone, but the power of working together in the interests of students – of all the Pauls that we’ve met and have yet to meet – should be what drives our decisions, our behaviours and our actions. They are our true north.

Dr Jo Saxton, Chief Regulator, Ofqual

The future of qualifications regulation across the UK – Panel discussion

Session 1 Panel FAB2021

This will then be discussed by the panel of industry experts, who will also be taking questions from the audience: 

  • Emma Scott, Director of Operations for VTQ at Ofqual
  • George Brown, Head of Accreditation at SQA Accreditation
  • Dr Rachel Heath-Davies, Head of Regulatory Policy at Qualifications Wales
  • David Crosbie, Programme Manager CCEA Accreditation

Tune in to find out what they discuss:
George Brown, Head of Accreditation at SQA AccreditationDr Rachel Heath-Davies, Head of Regulatory Policy at Qualifications Wales

#FAB2021 prepares to showcase a world-class awarding and assessment industry; as major government qualifications reform looms 

9th Nov 2021: The Federation of @AwardingBodies (FAB) is gearing up for its first in-person annual conference since November 2019. 

It takes place at the Marriott Hotel in Leicester on 11 & 12 November 2021.

Full members of FAB are regulated awarding and assessment organisations who, collectively, are committed to the highest standards of quality and delivery for learners. This includes our Platinum Partner members who represent some of the best-known brands in qualifications.

Only the very best organisations providing regulated qualifications in the United Kingdom and overseas seek membership of the Federation. And together, we actively influence and shape the post-16 skills and education landscape across the UK.

As the country emerges from the pandemic, the focus of the two-day conference this year is ‘delivering for the learner and society in challenging times.’

Over the two days, delegates will hear from leading industry experts, and regulators from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Government ministers and senior officials are also addressing the conference this year.

Commenting on the industry gathering, co-chairs of the Federation, Kirstie Donnelly MBE and Alan Woods OBE, said:

“On behalf of the Board, we’d like to welcome all those who will be brought together in-person and virtually for the first time since the pandemic began. There is no doubt this has been a challenging period for the whole industry and the wider skills sector.

“We’d like to place on record our sincere thanks to the entire awarding and assessment sector for the tireless way in which all our people have ensured that learners and apprentices were never disadvantaged by Covid-19.

“Quite rightly, we clapped the key workers during the pandemic. But we should never forget that in the engine room of our education system, there’s also some brilliant awarding and assessment experts who have helped keep the skills and education show on the road these past 24 challenging months. We salute them.”

Tom Bewick, chief executive of the Federation added:

“This year’s conference and annual awards is one of the biggest ever. It’s a real sign of just how much our high-quality regulated members enjoy working with one another as part of a team.

“This is the first annual conference we have put together that will see the fusion of our enhanced digital capabilities as an organisation with an in- person conference experience. As a result, we will be livestreaming some of the key sessions from the event this year, including our annual gala awards dinner co-hosted with the internet sensation Jackie Weaver!

“We’re particularly proud of our exclusive media partnership with FE News who, throughout the pandemic, have worked closely with our digital services arm, Skills World Live productions, to help us produce the most popular education podcast in the UK.”

You can tune into #FAB2021 on 11 and 12 November at the following times GMT:

11 November


Alex Burghart MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Skills)

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Co-Chair of the Federation of Awarding Bodies

11.20                     The future of qualifications regulation across the UK

Dr Jo Saxton, Chief Regulator Ofqual

  • Emma ScottDirector of Operations for VTQ at Ofqual
  • George Brown, Head of Accreditation at SQA Accreditation
  • Dr Rachel Heath-Davies, Head of Regulatory Policy at Qualifications Wales
  • David Crosbie, Programme Manager CCEA Accreditation

13.30 Skills World Live Radio Show: What does the Skills Bill and Quals Reform really mean for the FE sector? 

Presented by Tom Bewick, Chief Executive at the Federation of Awarding Bodies


  • Rachel Cooper, Strategy Director at IfATE
  • Catherine Large, Executive Director of Vocational and Technical Qualifications at Ofqual
  • Susan Lovelock, Director of Professional and Technical Education, Department for Education
  • Catherine Winter, Managing Director, Financial Capability and Community Outreach at LIBF
  • David Hughes, Chief Executive, AoC
  • Dr Sue Pember CBE, Policy Director at HOLEX

21.25                      FAB 2021 Awards

Hosted by Tom Bewick, Chief Executive at the Federation of Awarding Bodies and internet sensation Jackie Weaver.

12 November

10.25                     Forging a new working relationship with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) in a changing regulatory landscape

  • Charlotte Bosworth, Managing Director at Innovate Awarding
  • Rob Nitsch, Chief Operating Officer at IfATE
  • Sarah Edmonds, Founder and Director, Artemis Associates
  • Kevern Kerswell, CEO, OCN West Midlands
  • Patrick Craven, Director of Policy and Strategy Partnerships at City and Guilds
  • Suzanne Hall, Head of Product: Technical at Pearson

14.45 Skills World Live Radio Show: How does the UK win the global skills race?

Presented by Tom Bewick, Chief Executive at the Federation of Awarding Bodies

  • Mims Davies MP
  • Dr Fiona Aldridge, Head of Skills Insight at WMCA
  • Tina Renshaw, CEO at the English Speaking Board
  • Jo Maher, Principal and Chief Executive at Loughborough College
  • Jonathan Ortmans, President at GAN

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