NCFE Tech levels (interim-reformed)

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The QIP covers all NCFE Tech level (interim-reformed) qualifications that do not meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and do not contribute towards performance measures for 2018.

This QIP specifically covers the NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography (601/0377/2). The qualification meets the interim-reformed requirements for 2016 and 2017 performance tables.

Countries
  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Wales
Purpose

The Department for Education (DfE) describe Tech level qualifications as follows:

Tech levels are rigorous advanced (Level 3) technical qualifications on a par with A Levels and recognised by employers. They are for students aged 16 plus who want to specialise in a specific industry or prepare for a particular job. They cover jobs and careers where employers recruit people at this level or where a level 3 qualification is needed before students can progress to a related higher education course. Tech levels give students an opportunity to develop specialist knowledge and skills to help them get an apprenticeship or job, for example in engineering, IT, accounting or professional cookery, or progress to a higher level qualification. In some cases, a tech level qualification is a ‘licence to practise’ or can exempt someone holding the qualification from a professional exam. Tech levels are recognised by trade or professional bodies or at least five employers. Alternatively, the qualification may be accepted by a national licensed professional registration scheme.

This Level 3 qualification is designed for students who want to further develop their photography knowledge and skills. It develops students’ knowledge, skills and understanding in areas such as camera techniques, image processing and manipulation, history of photography and styles of photography such as portrait, location and documentary.

The qualification aims to help students develop the skills and understanding required to work in the sector or to undertake further learning.

Students will develop generic, transferable skills valued by employers, such as, communication, planning and health and safety principles.

They will also research job opportunities or freelance options and assess their strengths in areas such as positive attitude, punctuality and self-motivation.

In addition, the requirement to complete optional units means that students are able to develop more specialist knowledge and skills in particular areas.

For those who wish to study at a higher level, the qualification will enable them to develop higher level learning skills such as independent working, research, self-reflection and collaborative learning.

The qualification has been endorsed by the Royal Photographic Society, and offers exemption for the Licentiateship of the RPS.

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 be classified as:

  • 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.
  • 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.

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. Only qualifications that meet the full criteria count towards performance tables from 2018. The qualifications listed in this QIP are classified as Tech level qualifications however do not meet the full criteria to count towards performance tables from 2018 in respect of content, assessment and grading. 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 2016 and 2017 NCFE Tech levels meet the interim requirements set by the DfE and therefore may be offered in schools and colleges alongside the 2018 fully reformed versions:

 

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 (Technical Level Qualifications only)

 

X

H. Progression

 

X

I. Proven Track Record

 

X

 

As noted in the table above, the 2016/2017 and 2018 versions of Tech level qualifications are fundamentally different.

For more information on the specific changes to 2018 Tech levels, please refer to a reformed QIP. Please also see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’ for some additional considerations when assessing these qualifications.

Further information about Tech level qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet the 2018 requirements, can be found on the DfE website.


Regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications

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

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

Tech levels must comply with Ofqual’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualification.


The NCFE Level 3 Photography qualification is designed for use within 16 – 19 study programmes, which provide students with a structured and challenging individualised learning programme that supports their development and progression in line with their future career plans.

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. They are focused on progression to the next level of education, a traineeship or apprenticeship, or other employment.

Awarding organisation
  • NCFE
Qualification code
601/0377/2 (NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography)
Structure

To achieve the Level 3 Diploma in Photography, students must achieve a minimum of 73 credits: five units from Group A; two units from Group B and two units from Group C.

Subject areas
  • Photography

Group A units

  • Use camera techniques to creatively control visual outcomes (M/505/3067)
  • Print and present a portfolio of photographs (T/505/3068) Plan and complete a photographic project (A/505/3069)
  • Safety in the workplace for photography (M/505/3070)
  • Awareness of employment in the Creative Media sector (L/600/9037)

Group B units

  • Image processing, manipulation and storage (T/505/3071)
  • The history of photography (A/505/3072)
  • Image documentation and storage (K/505/3066)

Group C units

  • Studio photography (M/505/3084)
  • Documentary photography (T/505/3085)
  • Location photography (A/505/3086)
  • Portrait photography (F/505/3073)
  • Experimental photographic imaging (J/505/3074)
Levels
  • Level 3

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

The qualification is graded Pass/Fail overall.

To achieve the NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography, students must successfully demonstrate their achievement of all learning outcomes and assessment criteria of the units as detailed in the qualification specification.

Assessment

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.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

100% of assessment is by the internally assessed and externally quality assured portfolio of evidence.

Resit arrangements

To achieve the NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography, students must successfully demonstrate their achievement of all learning outcomes of the units as detailed in the qualification specification.

Students who aren’t successful can resubmit work within the registration period.

Guided/notional learning hours notes

450 – 495 GLH. Total qualification time (TQT) is 730 hours.

UCAS Tariff points

NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography

Grade Points
P 48

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Key issues for UK HE admissions

Tech level qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to specialise in a specific industry, occupation, or occupational group. They equip students with specialist knowledge and skills.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • Applicants holding interim-reformed Tech level qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.
  • The 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.
  • 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.
  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to the reformed versions and likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.

Tech levels are designed to support progression to employment, an apprenticeship, or to higher education.

Progression to higher education is generally within the vocational area of the Tech level, and may be to a foundation degree.

The exact curriculum studied may depend on the choice of optional units taken.


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

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Students are assessed throughout their programme of learning and may submit their portfolio of evidence at any point.

Results are provided on a rolling basis.

Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Reporting and certification information

The results of this qualification are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

View the results available through ABL.

Certification of this qualification is reported on the basis of the number of certificates achieved over a 12-month period.

Progression information

Tech level 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.

These qualifications offer progression to higher education, an apprenticeship, or employment.

Progression to HE will probably be in the vocational area of the qualification, and may be to a foundation degree or a Higher National qualification (HNC/HND).

Tech level qualifications are supported by at least five employers from the job sector the qualification is related to. All students have to take part in meaningful activity involving employers in the course of their study. Examples are work placements, taking part in projects, or some of the course being taught by someone who works in the industry.


The NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography has been developed in partnership with the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) to ensure that the content is current and relevant. The RPS has endorsed the qualification and it provides a recognised exemption for the Licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society (LRPS).

The qualification requires students to analyse, draw conclusions, interpret or justify, which are all examples of higher level skills. These skills support progression to higher education.

Further information

View DfE’s technical guidance

Further information can be found in the qualification specification below.

NCFE Level 3 Diploma in Photography