NCFE Applied Generals (reformed)

Last updated
Last verified
The QIP covers all NCFE Applied General qualifications that meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and contribute towards performance measures from 2018.
Countries
  • England
  • Wales
Purpose

The Department for Education (DfE) describe Applied General qualifications as follows:

Applied General qualifications are rigorous, advanced (Level 3) qualifications that allow 16 to 19 year old students to develop transferable knowledge and skills. They are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning. Applied General qualifications allow entry to a range of higher education courses, either by meeting the entry requirements in their own right or being accepted alongside and adding value to other qualifications at Level 3 such as A levels. Higher education institutions, such as universities, have pledged support for all approved applied general qualifications listed.

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Music Technology: the following HEPs have provided letters of support for this qualification:

  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Middlesbrough College
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of West London

This qualification enables learners to develop their skills, knowledge, and understanding of working in the music technology sector. It will enable learners to continue their education through applied learning and equip them with transferable knowledge and skills, while giving them the opportunity to respond to contextualised industry briefs.

It is aimed at post-16 learners studying a Key Stage 5 curriculum, with an interest in creative music production and performance. It has been designed to sit with the Study Programme, alongside A levels and other qualifications.


NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design: the following HEPs have provided letters of support for this qualification:

  • Glasgow School of Art
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of Sunderland

This qualification is designed for learners who want to progress to higher or further education. It provides an applied study of art and/or design alongside theoretical content and opportunities to acquire practical and technical skills. 


NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Business and Enterprise: the following HEPs have provided letters of support for this qualification:

  • Peterborough Regional College
  • Southampton Solent University
  • University of Huddersfield

This qualification is aimed at post-16 year olds studying a Key Stage 5 curriculum who want to progress into higher education. It enables learners to develop transferable skills, knowledge, and understanding in the business and enterprise sector and is appropriate for learners wishing to continue their education through applied learning, equipping them with transferable knowledge and skills. This qualification can be used within a study programme.

This qualification aims to:

  • focus on an applied study of the business and enterprise sector
  • offer breadth and depth of study, incorporating a significant core of knowledge and theoretical content with broad-ranging applicability
  • provide academic and study skills that will support progression in business and enterprise more broadly
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 classified as:

  • 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.
  • 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.

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. However, 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 Applied General 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 (Tech Level Qualifications only)

 

X

H. Progression

 

X

I. Proven Track Record

 

X

 

These changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Size: Applied General qualifications must require at least 150 guided learning hours (GLH). Tech Level qualifications must require at least 300 GLH.
  • Appropriate content: a qualification specification must state the specific content that students need to pass to achieve the qualification. Mandatory content and the associated contribution to the overall grade must make up at least:
    • 60% of an Applied General
    • 40% of a Tech Level
  • Appropriate assessment: Applied General qualifications must include at least 40% external assessment. Tech Levels must include 30% external assessment. Students will 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.

Further information about Applied General qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet these requirements, can be found on the DfE website.

Read more information on the DfE website


Regulation of Applied General and Tech Level qualifications

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

The regulatory approach undertaken for Applied General and Tech Level qualifications differs to A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification-level criteria for Applied Generals, 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 Applied General category, qualifications have to demonstrate particular features, as outlined in the table above.

Applied General qualifications must comply with Ofqual’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.

Awarding organisation
  • NCFE
Qualification codes
601/6779/8 (NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Music Technology)
601/8898/4 (NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design)
601/8908/3 (NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Business and Enterprise)
Structure

The NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Music Technology has:

  • six mandatory units (this exceeds the DfE’s minimum requirements)
  • a written exam
  • a practical exam

 

The NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design has:

  • five mandatory units  (this exceeds the DfE’s minimum requirements)
  • external assessment – practical test

 

The NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Business and Enterprise has:

  • seven mandatory units (this exceeds the DfE’s minimum requirements)
  • a written exam
Subject areas
  • Music technology
  • Art and design
  • Business and enterprise
Levels
  • Level 3
  • EQF Level 4

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

All units in each qualification are graded: Distinction*/Distinction/Merit/Pass/Not Yet Achieved

The final grade is calculated by converting the three assessment components into a UMS score to ensure comparability between the different components. The collective UMS is then converted into a grade based on fixed thresholds.

Please refer to the qualification specifications for further information on grading.

Assessment

As noted in Education Context, to be classified as an Applied General qualification, the qualification in question must meet certain criteria. This includes:

  • A minimum of 40% external assessment
  • A minimum of 60% mandatory core content
  • An element of synoptic assessment
  • There is a single resit opportunity

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Music Technology

50% of the overall qualification grade is internally assessed. All internal assessment is externally quality assured.

50% of the overall qualification grade is externally assessed. All units are subject to external assessment which comprises a two-hour written exam and a ten-hour practical exam. 

This qualification includes synoptic assessment to demonstrate that learners have achieved a holistic understanding of the sector, and that they can make effective connections between different aspects they have studied. It enables learners to show that they can transfer knowledge and skills learned in one context to resolve problems raised in another.

To support the development of a synoptic approach, the qualification encourages learners to make links between elements of the course and to demonstrate how they have integrated and applied their increasing knowledge and skills from the beginning.

External assessments are also synoptic in nature, as they require learners to apply and integrate their knowledge and skills from across the whole qualification in a vocationally relevant context.

As learners progress through the course, they use and build on knowledge and skills learnt in previous units.  Full evidence of learners’ accumulated knowledge, skills, and understanding, and of their ability to ‘think like a music technologist’ will be evidenced when the learner successfully achieves the qualification.


NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design

50% of the overall qualification grade is internally assessed. All internal assessment is externally quality assured. Internal assessment tasks will test the learner’s ability to respond to a real life situation they may face when they are in employment.

50% of the overall qualification grade is externally assessed. Units 1, 2, 3, and 5 of this qualification are subject to external assessment which comprises an 18-hour practical test which includes five hours of supervised preparation time.

This qualification includes synoptic assessment. Synoptic assessment is an important part of a high-quality vocational qualification because it shows that learners have achieved a holistic understanding of the sector, and that they can make effective connections between different aspects they have studied. It enables learners to show they can transfer knowledge and skills learned in one context to resolve problems raised in another.

To support the development of a synoptic approach, the qualification encourages learners to make links between elements of the course, and to demonstrate how they have integrated and applied their increasing knowledge and skills from the beginning. External assessments are also synoptic in nature, as they require learners to apply and integrate their knowledge and skills from across the whole qualification in a vocationally relevant context.

As learners progress through the course, they use and build on knowledge and skills learnt in previous units. Full evidence of learners’ accumulated knowledge, skills, and understanding, and of their ability to ‘think like an artist or designer’ will be evidenced when the learner successfully achieves the qualification.


NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Business and Enterprise

50% of the overall qualification grade is internally assessed. All internal assessment is externally quality assured. Internal assessment tasks will test the learners’ ability to respond to a real life situation they may face when they are in employment.

50% of the overall qualification grade is externally assessed. Units 1 and 5 of the qualification are subject to external assessment which comprises a two-hour question paper (plus pre-release material).

This qualification includes synoptic assessment. Synoptic assessment is an important part of a high-quality vocational qualification because it shows that learners have achieved a holistic understanding of the sectors and they can make effective connections between different aspects they have studied. It enables learners to show they can transfer knowledge and skills learned in one context to resolve problems raised in another.

To support the development of a synoptic approach, the qualification encourages learners to make links between elements of the course, and to demonstrate how they have integrated and applied their increasing knowledge and skills from the beginning. Synoptic assessment is embedded in units 6 and 7 which require the learners to apply their knowledge and skills gained from units 1 to 5.

The external assessment is also synoptic in nature, as it requires learners to apply and integrate their knowledge and skills from across the whole qualification in a vocationally relevant context.

As learners progress through the course, they use and build on knowledge and skills learnt in previous units.  Full evidence of learners’ accumulated knowledge, skills, and understanding, and of their ability to ‘think like an entrepreneur/business manager’ will be evidenced when the learner successfully achieves the qualification.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

All qualifications comprise 50% internal assessment and 50% external assessment.

Resit arrangements

Reformed Applied General qualifications are only allowed one resit opportunity per unit. The resit must be a new task or assignment, different to the original assessment.

Guided/notional learning hours
Music Technology – 360 GLH plus a ten hour practical exam and a two hour written exam (totalling 372 GLH): 360 hours
Art and Design – 360 GLH plus an 18 hour external assessment – practical test (totalling 378 GLH): 360 hours
Business and Enterprise – 360 GLH plus a two hour question paper (totalling 362 GLH: 360 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Music Technology

360 Guided learning hours (GLH) / 610 Total qualification time (TQT)

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design

360 Guided learning hours (GLH) / 540 Total qualification time (TQT)

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Business and Enterprise

360 Guided learning hours (GLH) / 540 Total qualification time (TQT)

UCAS Tariff points

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Music Technology

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Business and Enterprise

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16
Key issues for UK HE admissions

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

The popularity of Applied Generals has risen over recent years. The entry rate for applicants holding at least one BTEC (either alone or in combination with A levels) was 6.0 per cent in 2016, up from 5.8 per cent in 2015.

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

  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to their predecessors 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.
  • 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.
  • The fully-reformed qualifications include both external and synoptic assessment, as well as changes to resit processes. These changes are likely to result in fewer learners 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 fully-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.
  • 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 learners 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.
Timing of assessments/results for learners

Internal assessment

Internal assessment grades for all qualifications can be submitted on a rolling process. Grades are confirmed following quality assurance from NCFE.


External assessment:

 

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Music Technology

  • Written exam: there are two set dates during each year. 
  • Practical exam: there are two assessment windows in each academic year.

Please refer to the assessment windows document on the NCFE website for exact dates.

 

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design

  • Practical test: there are two assessment windows in each academic year.

Please refer to the assessment windows document on the NCFE website for exact dates.

 

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Business and Enterprise

  • Question paper: there are two set dates in each academic year.

Please refer to the assessment windows document on the NCFE website for specific dates.

Read the assessment windows document on the NCFE website

Qualification date
Starting from 01 Sep 2016 (NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Music Technology)
Starting from 01 Sep 2017 (NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design)
Starting from 01 Sep 2017 (NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Business and Enterprise)
Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Reporting and certification information

The results for the NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Music Technology are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

View the results available through ABL.

The results for the following qualifications are not reported through ABL:

  • NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design
  • NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Business and Enterprise

For these qualifications, HEPs will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.

Results are made available to NCFE centres throughout the year in line with the results release dates. Certification of these qualifications is reported on the basis of the number of certificates achieved over a 12 month period. Data is provided to Ofqual and DfE.

Progression information

Applied General 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.


NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Music Technology

This qualification fulfils entry requirements for a range of higher education courses, either by meeting entry requirements in its own right, or being accepted alongside and adding value to other qualifications at the same level. 

Degree courses could include:

  • music technology
  • live sound production
  • music production
  • creative music production
  • creative music technology
  • music technology and audio systems
  • music technology and popular music

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design

This qualification fulfils entry requirements for a range of higher education courses, either by meeting entry requirements in its own right, or, being accepted alongside and adding value to other qualifications at the same level.

Degree courses could include:

  • art and design
  • graphic design
  • advertising and branding
  • architecture
  • art history
  • fne art
  • fashion and textiles
  • illustration
  • ceramic design
  • 3D design
  • film and visual culture
  • photography
  • animation

It may also be useful to those studying qualifications in the following sectors:

  • art and/or design
  • architecture
  • photography
  • moving image production

NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Business and Enterprise

This qualification fulfils entry requirements for a range of higher education courses, either by meeting entry requirements in its own right, or being accepted alongside and adding value to other qualifications at the same level.

Degree courses could include:

  • management studies
  • business studies
  • marketing
  • accounting/finance
  • HR
  • economics
  • politics