These qualifications are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables because they are not designed to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 5 performance tables.
Vocational qualifications are either work-related qualifications designed to enable students to gain the skills required to perform a particular job, or qualifications that may be taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.
Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the DfE performance tables, if approved for teaching to 16-19 year olds by the Secretary of State for Education in England under Section 96, where this is in the best interests of individual students.
These qualifications provide students with a structured and challenging individualised learning programme that supports their development and progression in line with their future career plans.
They are the substantial qualification component of the study programme and provide students with an in-depth understanding of the principles of the uniformed services sector, and to allow them to explore the various avenues of work within it. They also allow students to gain transferable skills that can be applied to the workplace or further study.
- focus on the study of the uniformed services in the public services sector
- offer breadth and depth of study, incorporating a key core of knowledge
- provide opportunities to acquire a number of practical and technical work-related skills.
The objectives of these qualifications are to:
- allow students to progress to employment or further study, and towards the entry qualifications and requirements of a specific uniformed service
- provide informed and prepared potential recruits
These qualifications aim to provide students with:
- an understanding of the uniformed public services sector
- the opportunity to investigate career opportunities in the uniformed services
- the ability to prepare for a recruitment interview
- an understanding of the personal commitment and fitness requirements needed to be employed in a uniformed service role
- an understanding of the external organisations that impact on and influence the work of the uniformed services
- an understanding of how uniformed services respond in emergency situations
- the opportunity to understand and develop the skills and qualities needed to work in a range of uniformed services, e.g. leadership skills, coaching skills, conflict management, personal protection, teamwork, communication, navigation, and drill.
These qualifications are designed for post-16 students and fall under the oversight of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). A significant number of students will undertake these qualifications post-19.
Following its 2012 review of post-19 qualifications the ESFA removed 1,800 qualifications from public funding and a further 1,000 in 2014. In March 2014 the government published a Reform Plan for Vocational Education.
These qualifications have not been subject to the same reforms as Applied General and Tech Level qualifications (which are specifically designed for 16-19 year old students), however the ESFA has implemented a new set of business rules for the approval of qualifications for funding, based on the 2013 Review of Adult Vocational Qualifications in England. These rules recognise that adults may have different needs, aspirations and ambitions to younger people and include that qualifications should be:
- relevant to individuals and employers and affordable for all sizes of business and for individuals
- rigorous and based on a robust future-looking occupational standard designed and assessed by the sector
- recognised as worthy of investment, giving a clear signal of the economically valuable skills, knowledge and understanding required in an occupation now and in the future.
Regulation of vocational qualifications
The regulation of vocational qualifications is the responsibility of the respective regulators in each UK country – Ofqual (England), CCEA Regulation (Northern Ireland) SQA (Scotland) and Qualifications Wales (Wales). The regulatory approach undertaken for vocational qualifications is different from A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification criteria for vocational qualifications, as there currently are for GCSEs, AS and A levels. Vocational qualifications must comply with the regulator’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.
These qualifications form part of a study programme. Study programmes normally include substantial academic or applied and technical qualifications, together with non-qualification activity including work experience, and the study of English and mathematics where students do not hold a GCSE graded A*-C in these subjects.
- Introductory Certificate: one mandatory unit + two optional units
- Certificate: four mandatory units + two optional units
- Diploma (540): four mandatory units + five optional units
- Diploma (720): four mandatory units + eight optional units
- Extended Diploma: four mandatory units + 14 optional units
- Uniformed services
- Level 3
- EQF Level 4
Level 3 qualifications are regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England and Northern Ireland and the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales, though many may be offered on a three-country basis.
Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6 / 7.
All units are graded.
Each unit of the qualifications is graded using a structure of Not Yet Achieved, Pass, Merit, and Distinction.
The final grade for the qualifications is based on a structure of Not Yet Achieved, Pass, Merit, Distinction, and Distinction*.
The final grade is calculated by combining the UMS scores for each unit. The total UMS will then be converted into a grade based on fixed thresholds.
Please refer to the qualification specification for further information on grading.
Grades in descending order
- Distinction *
- Not Yet Achieved
100% of the qualification is internally assessed. The internal assessment is internally assessed and externally quality assured via a portfolio of evidence.
The internal assessment contributes 100% of the overall qualification grade.
Students who are not successful can resubmit work within the registration period.
Total qualification time (TQT):
- Introductory Certificate: 220 TQT
- Certificate: 490 TQT
- Diploma (540): 710 TQT
- Diploma (720): 950 TQT
- Extended Diploma: 1,430 TQT
NCFE Level 3 Introductory Certificate for Entry to the Uniformed Services
NCFE Level 3 Certificate for Entry to the Uniformed Services
NCFE Level 3 Diploma for Entry to the Uniformed Services (540)
NCFE Level 3 Diploma for Entry to the Uniformed Services (720)
NCFE Level 3 Extended Diploma for Entry to the Uniformed Services
There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing vocational qualifications that are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables for England:
- Some of these qualifications are occupational, and may not be designed specifically for progression to HE.
- Applicants holding these qualifications may be school or college leavers, however some may be more mature students who are likely to have other relevant experience alongside these qualifications.
- These qualifications may have been taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.
- If they are presented for admission to HE it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications.
This suite of qualifications has been developed in partnership with employers, universities and other subject experts to ensure the content is current and relevant. Level 3 criteria require students to analyse, draw conclusions, interpret, or justify, which are all examples of higher level skills. This means that evidence provided for the portfolio also demonstrates the development and use of higher level learning skills.
Students may combine the Level 3 Certificates/Diplomas for Entry to the Uniformed Services in with other qualifications e.g. A levels or other vocational qualifications.
Students are assessed throughout their programme of learning and may submit their portfolio of evidence at any point.
Grades are provided on a rolling basis.
These are current qualifications.
The results of these qualifications are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).
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.
Students who achieve these qualifications could progress to:
- Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Outdoor Programmes
- Level 3 Diploma in Operational Delivery (Advanced)
- Level 3 Certificate in Knowledge of Policing
- public service foundation degree
- higher apprenticeships
- BA in Public Services
They may also be useful to students studying for qualifications in the following sectors/areas:
- public services
- local or national government
Students can progress from a Certificate to a Diploma, but centres must carefully consider which qualification they want to register the student onto.
Please refer to the relevant qualification specification on the NCFE website for further information about these qualifications: