BPEC Level 3 Diploma in Plumbing Foundation Tech level (interim-reformed)

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The QIP covers the BPEC Level 3 Diploma in Plumbing Foundation Tech level (interim-reformed) qualifications that do not meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and do not contribute towards performance measures for 2018.

This qualification meets the interim-reformed requirements for 2017 performance tables.

Country
  • England
Purpose

The Department for Education (DfE) describe Tech level qualifications as follows:

Tech levels are rigorous advanced (level 3) technical qualifications on a par with A Levels and recognised by employers. They are for students aged 16 plus who want to specialise in a specific industry or prepare for a particular job. They cover jobs and careers where employers recruit people at this level or where a level 3 qualification is needed before students can progress to a related higher education course. Tech levels give students an opportunity to develop specialist knowledge and skills to help them get an apprenticeship or job, for example in engineering, IT, accounting or professional cookery, or progress to a higher level qualification. In some cases, a tech level qualification is a ‘licence to practise’ or can exempt someone holding the qualification from a professional exam. Tech levels are recognised by trade or professional bodies or at least five employers. Alternatively, the qualification may be accepted by a national licensed professional registration scheme.

As a Tech level qualification, the Level 3 Diploma in Plumbing Foundation requires the completion of knowledge and practical assessments designed to provide individuals with the basic skills and understanding to allow a progression route to completion of the Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Plumbing and Heating, Domestic Heating, or a trailblazer apprenticeship.

The qualification is intended for 16-19 year old learners who are in full-time education. It is for someone who wants to work in the building services engineering industry, and envisages a career as a plumber or plumbing and heating engineer. The qualification may also be suitable for other learners, such as adults, who are interested in plumbing or changing their career path.

Education context

Some vocational qualifications offered at Level 3 have been reformed as a result of changes to school performance tables. Vocational qualifications must meet the criteria set by the Department for Education (DfE) in order to count towards school performance tables. These reforms mean that 91% of the Level 3 qualifications that previously counted towards school performance tables were removed from performance tables in 2016.

For accountability purposes, vocational qualifications are now be classified as:

  • Tech level qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to lead to a ‘recognised occupation’. Examples provided by the DfE include engineering, accounting, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and IT. These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including the endorsement of five employers registered at Companies House.
  • Applied General qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to provide a broader vocational education. They ‘are designed for students wanting to continue their education through applied learning.’ These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including endorsement by at least three universities and colleges.

The reform to vocational qualifications is being conducted in two stages: an interim stage and full stage. Each of these stages introduced new criteria for vocational qualifications to meet in order to count towards school performance tables.

The first teaching of the qualifications reformed on an interim basis was from 2014 and these counted towards school performance tables in 2016. Only qualifications that meet the full criteria count towards performance tables from 2018. The qualifications listed in this QIP are classified as Tech level qualifications however do not meet the full criteria to count towards performance tables from 2018 in respect of content, assessment and grading. Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the performance tables, if the qualifications are approved for teaching by the Secretary of State under Section 96.

Read Section 96.

The 2017 BPEC Tech levels meet the interim requirements set by the DfE and therefore may be offered in schools and colleges alongside the 2018 fully reformed versions:

 

Interim Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2016 performance tables)

Full Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2018 performance tables)

A. Declared Purpose

X

X

B. Size

X

X

C. Recognition

X

X

D. Synoptic Assessment

 

X

E. External Assessment

 

X

F. Grading

 

X

G. Employer involvement (Technical Level Qualifications only)

 

X

H. Progression

 

X

I. Proven Track Record

 

X

As noted in the table above, the 2017 and 2018 versions of Tech level qualifications are fundamentally different.

For more information on the specific changes to 2018 Tech levels, please refer to a reformed QIP. Please also see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’ for some additional considerations when assessing these qualifications.

Further information about Tech level qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet the 2018 requirements, can be found on the DfE website.


Regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications

The regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications delivered in England is the responsibility of Ofqual.

The regulatory approach undertaken for Tech level and Applied General qualifications differs to A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification-level criteria for Tech levels, as there are for GCSEs, AS and A levels currently.  Applied Generals is a category introduced by the Department for Education for accountability purposes rather than a specific type of regulated qualification.  To be included in the Tech level category, qualifications have to demonstrate particular features outlined in the table above.

Tech levels must comply with Ofqual’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualification.  


The qualification demonstrates a commitment to working in the plumbing industry. Learners can progress to an industry, recognised NVQ at Level 2 or 3, or a trailblazer apprenticeship.

Awarding organisation
  • BPEC
Qualification code
Structure

Mandatory units with an approximate 50:50 split between practical and theoretical learning. The unit topics covered include:

  • Understanding how to organise resources in the Building Services Environment.
  • Understanding and applying domestic cold water system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques.
  • Understanding and applying domestic hot water system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques.
  • Understanding and applying domestic central heating system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques.
  • Understanding and carrying out electrical work on domestic plumbing and heating systems and components.
  • Understanding and applying domestic sanitation system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques.

The qualification requires the learner to complete six units, all of which are mandatory, and include the assessment of both practical skills and knowledge.

Learners should be at least 16 years of age, with appropriate literacy and numeracy skills, and have completed the Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing Foundation.This qualification will not automatically qualify learners to work as a plumber or plumbing and heating engineer, but may provide a platform for employment and further study.

For detailed structure information, please view the qualification specification on the BPEC website.

Subject areas
  • Plumbing
Levels
  • Level 3

This is a Level 3 qualification regulated to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)¹

Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6 / 7.


¹ The QCF was a credit-based transfer system which recognised qualifications and units by awarding credits. It has now been withdrawn for all new qualifications and has been replaced by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). The RQF is the new system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by Ofqual, indexing them by level and size.

Grading

Pass/Fail

Assessment

Multi-choice knowledge, written response knowledge, and simulated practical. This applies to all units.

All simulated practical assessments must be completed to industry standards. The assessment decision is made by the centre assessor, internally verified, then subject to BPEC External Quality Assurance processes.

Knowledge is assessed by centrally set, centrally marked, online multi-choice exam. The pass mark for all knowledge assessments is 60%.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

To achieve the qualification, all components must be passed.

Resit arrangements

Resits are available on demand. However, retraining may be required, depending on the candidate’s assessment performance.

Guided/notional learning hours
BPEC Level 3 Diploma in Plumbing Foundation: 450 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

For comparison, the size of one A level is 360 GLH.

UCAS Tariff points

BPEC Level 3 Diploma in Plumbing Foundation

Grade Points
P 32
Key issues for UK HE admissions

Tech level qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to develop transferable knowledge and skills.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • Applicants holding unreformed Tech level qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.
  • The reformed and unreformed qualifications will be delivered by schools and colleges at the same time (see ‘Education context’). Therefore, HEPs may wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications.
  • The dual running of the qualification may result in applicants declaring the incorrect version within their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to the reformed versions and likely to result in learners developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.

Tech levels are designed to support progression to employment, an apprenticeship, or to higher education.

Progression to higher education is generally within the vocational area of the Tech level, and may be to a foundation degree.

The exact curriculum studied may depend on the choice of optional units taken.

This is a progression qualification and is not recognised as ‘qualified’ by industry. Learners can progress to an industry recognised NVQ at Level 2 or 3, apprenticeship or, when available, a trailblazer apprenticeship.  The content of this qualification can be transferred directly into:

  • BPEC 600/6284/8 – Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Domestic Plumbing and Heating (Gas Water Heating and Wet Central Heating Appliances)
  • BPEC 600/6286/1 – Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Domestic Heating (Gas Water Heating and Wet Central Heating Appliances)
  • BPEC 600/6863/2 – Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Domestic Plumbing and Heating (Environmental Technology)
  • BPEC 600/6871/1 – Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Domestic Heating (Environmental Technology)
Timing of assessments/results for learners

All assessments/results are on demand, subject to moderation.

Qualification date
This is a current qualification. (Qualification review date 31 December 2018)
Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Reporting and certification information

The results of the BPEC Level 3 Diploma in Plumbing Foundation are not reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL). This does not reflect the validity of the qualification. HE providers will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.

View the results available through ABL.

BPEC submit qualification information to Ofqual only.

Progression information

Tech level qualifications differ in size; some may meet the entry requirements for higher education in their own right in a related area and some may need to be offered in conjunction with other Level 3 qualifications, for instance A levels. In addition, some higher education courses may require specific levels of achievement in particular units or ask for additional qualifications to satisfy subject knowledge requirements.

These qualifications offer progression to higher education, an apprenticeship, or employment.

Progression to HE will probably be in the vocational area of the qualification, and may be to a foundation degree or a Higher National qualification (HNC/HND).

Tech level qualifications are supported by at least five employers from the job sector the qualification is related to. All students have to take part in meaningful activity involving employers in the course of their study. Examples are work placements, taking part in projects, or some of the course being taught by someone who works in the industry.