This qualification is not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables because it is not designed to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 5 performance tables.
Vocational qualifications are either work-related qualifications designed to enable learners 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 learners.
The qualification is suitable for learners aged 16 and above and designed to prepare learners for employment in the IT and telecoms sector or to progress to higher level learning.
It can be taken as a substantial component of the study programme and is also designed for learners interested in an apprenticeship in roles such as software developer, desktop support engineer, network planner, database administrator, network engineer or software tester.
The qualification allows learners to specialise in their area of interest by choosing units from one of four pathways (General, business, networking and systems support or software development).
This qualification is designed for post-16 learners and falls 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 learners 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.
This qualification has not been subject to the same reforms as Applied General and Tech Level qualifications (which are specifically designed for 16-19 year old learners), 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.
This qualification forms part of a study programme. Study programmes normally include substantial academic or applied and technical qualifications, 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.
The qualification is also recognised as the knowledge component of the Advanced Apprenticeships in IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professionals.
The qualifications consist of four pathways, of which learners choose one:
- Networking and systems support
- Software development
Each pathway consists of a number of
- core mandatory units which allow learners to develop their underpinning knowledge of the IT and telecoms sector, such as computer systems and systems security
- a number of optional units relevant to the chosen specialism (business, networking and systems support or software development) and a number of vendor and specialist units.
The vendor units allow learners to familiarise themselves with widely used programmes designed by market leaders such as Microsoft and CISCO.
The vendor unit content allows learners to prepare for vendor certification, which will improve their employment prospects in the industry.
The optional specialist units allow learners to focus on a particular area of interest such as computer game design, spreadsheet modelling or web animation.
- Level 3
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.
Internally assessed and externally moderated portfolio of evidence.
Learners are set assignments. These may be in the form of briefs, scenarios, problem solving exercises and research investigations. They are contextualised using realistic scenarios. The assessment may require students to write a report, write a business proposal, deliver a presentation, or make conclusions based on extensive research into a practical investigation.
All assessment is criterion-referenced, based on the achievement of specified learning outcomes. Each unit within a qualification has specified assessment guidance.
100% of the assessment is from the internally assessed and externally moderated portfolio of evidence.
To achieve the NCFE Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT, learners must successfully demonstrate their achievement of all learning outcomes of the units as detailed in the qualification specification.
Learners who are not successful can resubmit work within the registration period.
NCFE Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT
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 learners 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.
The qualification was developed by e-skills, the Sector Skills Council for the IT and Telecoms sector, in partnership with awarding organisations and employers.
Level 3 criteria require learners to analyse, draw conclusions, interpret or justify, which are all examples of higher level skills. This means that evidence provided for the portfolio will also demonstrate the development and use of higher level learning skills.
Learners may combine the NCFE Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT with other qualifications e.g. A levels or other vocational qualifications.
Learners are assessed throughout their programme of learning and may submit their portfolio of evidence at any point.
Results are provided on a rolling basis.
This is a current qualification.
The results of this qualification are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).
Certification of the qualification is reported on the basis of the number of pass certificates achieved over a 12-month period.
The qualification can lead to higher education, an apprenticeship or employment in the IT sector.
The main roles for which the qualification is suited are:
- software developer
- desktop support engineer
- network planner
- database administrator
- network engineer
- software tester
View the qualification specifications: https://www.ncfe.org.uk/qualification-search/ncfe-level-3-extended-dipl…