NCFE Level 3 Performance Skills suite

Qualification codes
601/5481/0 (NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Performance Skills)
601/5815/3 (NCFE Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performance Skills)

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 enable progression into further training and education or employment in the performance industry. They aim to:

  • develop students’ understanding of a variety of approaches to performance
  • provide students with a chance to give and receive feedback on aspects of their own and others’ performance skills
  • develop students’ understanding of the performance industry

The objectives are to help students to:

  • develop their specialist knowledge and skills in a chosen area of performance
  • pursue further training or employment in the performance industry.

Students 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 students 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.


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 students who have consistently achieved a Distinction grade in every unit.


Internally assessed and externally quality assured portfolio of evidence.

Students 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.

Further information

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.

Students may combine the Level 3 Diploma or the Extended Diploma in Performance Skills with other qualifications e.g. A levels or other vocational qualifications.

The Performance Skills qualification had an operational end date of 31 January 2019, therefore the specification is no longer available and we are no longer accepting learner registrations.