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 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.
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 enable progression into further training and education or employment in the performance industry. They aim to:
- develop learners’ understanding of a variety of approaches to performance
- provide learners with a chance to give and receive feedback on aspects of their own and others’ performance skills
- develop learners’ understanding of the performance industry
The objectives are to help learners to:
- develop their specialist knowledge and skills in a chosen area of performance
- pursue further training or employment in the performance industry.
Learners will develop generic, transferable skills, such as planning, health and safety, giving and receiving feedback.
In addition, the requirement to complete optional units means that learners are able to develop more specialist knowledge and skills in a chosen area of performance.
For those who wish to study at a higher level, the qualifications will enable them to develop higher level learning skills such as independent working, research, self-reflection and collaborative learning.
These qualifications are designed for post-16 learners 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 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.
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 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.
These qualifications form 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.
To achieve the Level 3 Diploma in Performance Skills learners must successfully complete all three units from Group A and a minimum of four units from Group B.
To achieve the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performance Skills learners must successfully complete all three units from Group A and a minimum of seven units from Group B.
Group A units
- Rehearse and perform (T/506/9447)
- Prepare for an audition (A/506/9448)
- The healthy and safe performer (F/506/9449)
Group B units
- Employment opportunities for performers (F/506/9452)
- Develop teaching skills in performance (D/506/9457)
- Develop solo performance skills (T/506/9450)
- Develop ensemble performance skills (A/506/9451)
- Performance in a chosen specialism (J/506/9453)
- Performing in musical theatre (L/506/9454)
- Plan and promote a performance (R/506/9455)
- Specialist research project (Y/506/9456)
- 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.
The qualification is graded Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction*.
The unit grades are aggregated to form the final overall qualification grade. A Distinction* grade is awarded to learners who have consistently achieved a Distinction grade in every unit.
Internally assessed and externally quality assured portfolio of evidence.
Learners are set assignments. These may be in the form of briefs, 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 by the internally assessed and externally quality assured portfolio of evidence.
To achieve the NCFE Level 3 Diploma/Extended Diploma in Performance Skills, learners must successfully demonstrate their achievement of all learning outcomes of the units as detailed in the qualification specification.
Learners who aren’t successful can resubmit work within the registration period.
NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Performance Skills is 305 – 312 GLH, 340 hours Total qualification time (TQT).
NCFE Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performance Skills is 432 – 444 GLH, 490 hours Total qualification time (TQT).
NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Performance Skills
NCFE Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performance Skills
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.
Learners may combine the Level 3 Diploma or the Extended Diploma in Performance Skills 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.
These qualifications are current.
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.
This suite of qualifications has been developed in partnership with employers, universities and other subject experts to ensure that the content is current and relevant.
Level 3 criteria require learners to analyse, draw conclusions, interpret or justify, which are all examples of higher level skills. These higher level skills support progression to higher education.
Further information can be found in the qualification specifications listed here: