EAL Tech levels (reformed)

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The QIP covers all EAL Tech level qualifications that meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and contribute towards performance measures from 2018.
Countries
  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Wales
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.

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. 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 characteristics that must be met by Tech level qualifications as detailed in the DfE criteria are as follows:

 

 

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

These changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Size: Tech level qualifications must require at least 300 guided learning hours (GLH). Applied General qualifications must require at least 150 GLH.
  • Appropriate content: A qualification specification must state the specific content that students must pass to achieve the qualification. Mandatory content and the associated contribution to the overall grade must make up at least:
    • 40% of a Tech level
    • 60% of an Applied General
  • Appropriate assessment: Tech levels must have at least 30% external assessment. Applied General must have 40% external assessment. Students will also be given one opportunity to resit.
  • Synoptic assessment.
  • Grading: All vocational qualifications must be graded using three grading points or more, such as Distinction/Merit/Pass.
  • Employer involvement: Tech levels must be recognised and endorsed by a trade/professional body or at least 5 employers registered with Companies House.

Tech levels and Applied Generals, whilst both being vocational qualifications, differ in size and purpose. EAL Tech levels range from 363 GLH, are aimed at students with an interest in a particular industry or occupation, and help provide entry into employment, onto an apprenticeship, or into higher education in a related vocational area.

HEPs should take care when reviewing vocational qualifications for entry, see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’.

Further information about Tech level qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet these 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.  Tech level 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 qualifications.

Awarding organisation
  • EAL
Qualification codes
601/4563/8 (EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation)
601/4567/5 (EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Plumbing)
601/4564/X (EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Engineering Technology)
Structure

The EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation is taken over two years. It will be awarded to students once they have successfully completed:

  • six mandatory core units (externally set and externally marked online examinations, theory assignments, and practical assignments)
  • one optional unit (externally set and externally marked online examination)
  • a synoptic assessment (externally set and internally mark theory assignments and practical assignments).

The EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Plumbing is taken over two years. It will be awarded to students once they have successfully completed:

  • six mandatory core units (externally set and externally marked online examinations, theory assignments, and practical assignments)
  • a synoptic assessment (externally set and internally marked theory assignments and practical assignments)

The EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Engineering Technology is taken over two years. It will be awarded to students once they have successfully completed:

  • two mandatory core units (externally set and externally marked online examinations)
  • all mandatory units in ONE of the seven optional pathways (externally set and internally marked)
  • a synoptic assessment (internally set, externally validated, and internally marked).
Subject areas
  • Construction and the built environment
  • Engineering

EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation

Mandatory core unit content:

  • This unit focuses on environmental legislation, working practices, and the principles, of environmental technology systems. Its content is the knowledge needed by a student to underpin the application of skills and working practices appropriate to relevant legislation and systems.
  • Electrical installation planning, preparing, and designing – this unit focuses on key areas of how to plan for the installation of wiring systems and equipment, the protection, against overcurrent, earthing and protection and the electrical design procedure.
  • Electrical installation craft skills – this unit focuses on developing the student’s practical skills relevant to electrical installation work. It covers preparation, installation and verification. It aims to promote the health and safety of the student carrying out these electrical craft skills. It also provides a facility of learning and assessment of electrical installation craft skills in complex systems.  
  • Inspecting, testing, and commissioning of electrotechnical systems and equipment in buildings, structures, and the environment – this unit focuses on principles, practices, and legislation for the inspection, testing, commissioning, and certification of electrotechnical systems and equipment in buildings, structures, and the environment, in accordance with statutory and non-statutory regulations and requirements.
  • Diagnosing and correcting electrical faults in electrotechnical systems and equipment in buildings, structures, and the environment – this unit focuses on principles, practices, and legislation associated with diagnosing and correcting electrical faults in electrotechnical systems and equipment in buildings, structures, and the environment, in accordance with statutory and non-statutory regulations and requirements. 
  • Electrical science and principles – this unit focuses on science and principles relevant to electrical work.  It aims to provide a facility of assessment and learning of electrical science and principles.

Optional units:

  • Understanding the practices and procedures for overseeing and organising the work environment (electrical installation) – this unit focus on practices and procedures for overseeing and organising the work environment for the installation of electrotechnical systems and equipment. 
  • Requirements of BS 7671 and its application to electrical installations – this unit focuses on the full content of BS 7671, and how this applies to electrical installations in its scope.

More information on the structure and subject areas, of the qualification can be found in the qualification specification.

EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Plumbing

Mandatory core unit content:

  • How to organise resources in the building services environment – this unit focuses on the supervisory skills required to organise and coordinate the work of self and a small team of craft operatives in undertaking work in the building services industry.
  • Domestic cold water system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques – this unit focuses on the design, maintenance, and commissioning of a complex range of cold water system/component types in dwellings, including those in multi-storey properties and single occupancy dwellings fed by private water supplies. The unit covers compliance with the requirements of the water supply (water fittings) regulations and building regulations applicable to this type of system.
  • Domestic hot water system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques – this unit focuses on the design, installation, maintenance, and commissioning of a complex range of hot water system/component types in single occupancy dwellings. The unit also covers the requirements of statutory legislation for the installation, maintenance, and commissioning of unvented hot water storage systems.
  • Domestic central heating system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques – this unit focuses on the design, installation, maintenance, and commissioning of a complex range of central heating system/component types in single occupancy dwellings. The unit also covers the requirements of statutory legislation relating to the energy conservation of heating systems. 
  • Domestic sanitation system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques – this unit focuses on the design, installation, maintenance, and commissioning of a complex range of sanitation system/component types in single occupancy dwellings and multiple storey dwellings up to three storeys. The unit also covers the requirements of work on WC macerator units and sink waste disposal units.
  • The fundamental principles and requirements of environmental technology systems – this unit focuses on the student’s ability to communicate with others in relation to the fundamental working principles, installation, and regulatory requirements for micro-renewable energy and water conservation technologies.

More information on the structure and subject areas of the qualification can be found in the qualification specification.

EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Engineering Technology

Mandatory core unit content:

  • Engineering principles and technology –this unit focuses on the essential knowledge required to ensure a comprehensive understanding of key aspects of both health and safety practices and environmental management.
  • Engineering and environmental health and safety – this unit focuses on key areas of engineering principles and technology, including materials and material properties, numeracy applied to engineering, science applied to engineering, and communications used within engineering.

Optional pathways:

  • Engineering maintenance, including maintenance engineering principles, maintenance of mechanical systems, maintenance techniques, and mechanical engineering principles.
  • Fabrication and welding, including fabrication and welding principles, and the principles and practices of manual metal arc welding, metal inert gas welding, and tungsten inert gas welding.
  • Sheet metal, plate and pipework fabrications, including fabrication and welding principles, and the principles and practices of producing sheet, plate, and pipework fabrications.
  • Electrical engineering, including electrical and electronic principles, and the principles and practices of measurement methods and control engineering, electrical testing, and commissioning and installation of electrical equipment.
  • Electronics engineering – electrical and electronic principles, and the principles and practices of analogue electronics, digital electronics, and microelectronics.
  • Engineering design, including mechanical engineering principles, CAD techniques, CNC programming, and engineering design process.
  • Fluidics, including mechanical engineering principles, maintenance of fluid power systems, hydraulic systems and components, and pneumatic systems and components.

More information on the structure and subject area of the qualification can be found in the qualification specification.

Levels
  • Level 3

Level 3 qualifications are regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

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

Grading

Pass, Merit, Distinction

Assessment

As noted in Education Context, to be classified as a Tech level qualification the qualification in question must meet certain criteria. This includes:

  • A minimum of 30% external assessment
  • A minimum of 40% mandatory core content
  • An element of synoptic assessment
  • There is a single resit opportunity 

The above is the minimum requirements set out by the Department for Education.

The assessments in the EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation consist of:

Externally set and externally marked online examinations for the five mandatory core units and two optional units (of which the student must choose one optional unit): 

  • Understanding environmental legislation, working practices, and the principles of environmental technology systems (40 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Electrical installation planning, preparing, and designing (50 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Inspecting, testing and commissioning of electrotechnical systems and equipment in buildings, structures, and the environment (80 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Diagnosing and correcting electrical faults in electrotechnical systems and equipment in buildings, structures, and the environment (90 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Electrical science and principles (40 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Understanding the practices and procedures for overseeing and organising the work environment (electrical installation) (90 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Requirements of BS 7671 and its application to electrical installations (120 minute examination sat in exam conditions)

Students will be assessed against all the learning outcomes in the mandatory core units and optional units. Marks are allocated in accordance with the detailed, externally set marking criteria. All examinations are subject to moderation.

Externally set and internally marked theory and practical assignments for the five mandatory core units: 

  • Electrical installation planning, preparing, and designing (theory assignment)
  • Electrical installation craft skills (practical assignment)
  • Inspecting, testing, and commissioning of electrotechnical systems and equipment in buildings, structures, and the environment (practical assignment)
  • Diagnosing and correcting electrical faults in electrotechnical systems and equipment in buildings, structures, and the environment (practical assignment)
  • Electrical science and principles (theory assignment)

Marks are allocated in accordance with the detailed, externally set marking criteria. All assessments are subject to moderation.

A synoptic assessment which is set by EAL and is marked and moderated by the centre and subject to external quality assurance. It will comprise a scenario and a series of connected tasks that must be completed.


The assessments in the EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Plumbing consist of:

Externally set and externally marked online examinations for the six mandatory core units: 

  • How to organise resources in the building services, environment (60 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Domestic cold water system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques (75 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Domestic hot water system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques (105 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Domestic central heating system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques (60 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Domestic sanitation system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques (60 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • The fundamental principles and requirements of environmental technology systems (60 minute examination sat in exam conditions)

Students will be assessed against all the learning outcomes in the mandatory core units. Marks are allocated in accordance with the detailed externally set marking criteria. All examinations are subject to moderation.

Externally set and internally marked theory and practical assignments for the four mandatory core units: 

  • Domestic cold water system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques
  • Domestic hot water system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques
  • Domestic central heating system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques
  • Domestic sanitation system installation, commissioning, service, and maintenance techniques

Marks are allocated in accordance with the detailed, externally set marking criteria. All assessments are subject to moderation.

A synoptic assessment, which is set by EAL and is marked and moderated by the centre and subject to external quality assurance. It will comprise a scenario and a series of connected tasks that must be completed.

The synoptic assessment must be designed to cover a range of assessment criteria from a number of units that are relevant to the scenario and related tasks. The synoptic assessment will, together with the assessments relating to individual units, ensure all learning outcomes in the qualification have been fully and appropriately covered.


The assessments within the EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Engineering Technology consist of:

Externally set and externally marked online examinations for the two mandatory core units: 

  • Engineering principles and technology (80 minute examination sat in exam conditions)
  • Engineering and environmental health and safety (40 minute examination sat in exam conditions)

Students will be assessed against five learning outcomes in the Engineering principles and technology unit:

  • Understand measurement and marking out techniques applied to engineering
  • Understand engineering materials and material properties
  • Understand numeracy applied to engineering
  • Understand science applied to engineering
  • Understand forms of communication used within engineering.

Students will be assessed against four learning outcomes in the Engineering and environmental health and safety unit:

  • Understand health and safety roles and responsibilities
  • Understand the application of health and safety in the engineering environment
  • Understand the safe moving and storing of materials
  • Understand environmental management

Marks are allocated in accordance with the detailed, externally set marking criteria. All examinations are subject to moderation.

All mandatory units in one of the seven optional pathways (externally set and internally marked) – specific assessment time is given in each of the units that make up the optional pathway. 

Students will be assessed against all the learning outcomes in all of the mandatory units win the specified optional pathway.

Marks are allocated in accordance with the detailed, externally set marking criteria. All assessments are subject to moderation.

A synoptic assessment, which is set by the centre and approved by EAL, and is marked and moderated by the centre and subject to external quality assurance. It will comprise a scenario and a series of connected tasks that must be completed.

The synoptic assessment must be designed to cover a range of assessment criteria from a number of units that are relevant to the scenario and related tasks. The synoptic assessment will, together with the assessments relating to individual units, ensure all learning outcomes in the qualification have been fully and appropriately covered.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Weighting of assessments and contribution to overall grade:

  • Mandatory core units (externally set and externally marked online examinations). The marks from the examinations are added together and divided by the total number to get the mean score. This is then expressed as a percentage. (50% contribution to overall grade)
  • Synoptic assessment (externally set and internally marked) – (50% contribution to overall grade)

Students must also achieve a Pass in all of the components for the qualification to be awarded.

Resit arrangements

Reformed qualifications are only allowed one resit opportunity of externally set and marked assessments. The resit must be a new task or assignment, different to the original assessment.

Externally set and externally marked online examinations for the mandatory core units: in accordance with DfE requirements for Tech Level qualifications, students who fail to achieve a Pass in any externally set and marked examination will be permitted one resit only. The resit must be a new task or assignment, different to the original assessment.

Externally set and internally marked theory/practical assignments for the mandatory core units: if any students fail to reach the required standard in the internal assessment for a given unit, they will be permitted to resit this assessment after feedback and appropriate tuition has taken place.

Internally marked synoptic assessment: if following internal moderation and/or external quality assurance, any students fail to reach the standard required to pass the synoptic assessment, they will be permitted to resit the assessment after feedback and appropriate tuition has taken place.

Guided/notional learning hours
EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation (490 TQT): 459 hours
EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Plumbing (430 TQT): 363 hours
EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Engineering Technology (580 TQT): 450 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

Tech levels require a minimum size of 300 GLH to provide students with sufficient time for meaningful skills development that will equip them to follow a particular trade or profession; for comparison, the size of one A level is 360 GLH.

UCAS Tariff points

EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation

Grade Points
D 48
M 32
P 16

EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Plumbing

Grade Points
D 48
M 32
P 16

EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Engineering Technology

Grade Points
D 48
M 32
P 16

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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 specialise in a specific industry, occupation, or occupational group. They equip students with specialist knowledge and skills.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to their predecessors and Applied General qualifications, and are likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date.
  • The reformed qualifications include both external and synoptic assessment, as well as changes to resit processes. These changes are likely to result in fewer students passing the qualification. Equally, it is likely that grade distributions will change. In light of this, HEPs may wish to review their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies in relation to these qualifications.
  • The reformed and interim-reformed 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.
  • A larger mandatory core means that HEPs who require certain levels of achievement in particular units or ask for specific units to satisfy subject knowledge requirements should familiarise themselves with the new content specifications to ensure that these requirements are still valid. It should be noted that not all students will be able choose their optional units and these may be prescribed by the school or college, therefore HEPs should be cautious if requiring achievement in optional modules as part of their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies.

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

Applicants holding reformed Tech level qualifications will have had experience of external and synoptic assessment.

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.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Students are assessed throughout the duration of their qualification. They complete their synoptic assessment towards the end of their qualification in the second year.

Results are available after moderation has taken place between the deliverer of the qualification and EAL. This is usually in July.

Qualification date
01 Sep 2015—31 Jul 2020 (This is a review date and not an end date)
Qualification dates notes

EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation has a review date of 31 July 2020.

EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Plumbing has a review date of 31 July 2020.

EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Engineering Technology has a review date of 31 July 2020.

Reporting and certification information

The results of EAL Tech level qualifications 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.

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.

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).

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.