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.
- Northern Ireland
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 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 are unitised. The units are categorised as mandatory or optional and they cover a range of knowledge and practical skills.
The NOCN Level 3 Diploma in Customer Service is a 55 credit qualification and has 289 – 375 guided learning hours (GKH) with a Total Qualification Time (TQT) of 550 hours. Students must achieve a minimum of 55 credits comprising 31 credits from Mandatory Group A and a minimum of 15 credits from Optional Group B. A maximum of 9 credits can be achieved from Optional Group C. A minimum of 40 credits must be achieved at Level 3 and above.
The NOCN Level 3 Diploma in Business Administration is a 58 credit qualification and has 282 – 432 guided learning hours with a Total Qualification Time of 580 hours. Students must achieve a minimum of 58 credits comprising 27 credits from Mandatory Group A and a minimum of 13 credits from Optional Group B. A maximum of 10 credits can be achieved from Optional Group C and a maximum of 8 credits can be achieved from Optional Group D. A minimum of 40 credits must be achieved at Level 3 and above.
- Business administration
- Customer service
- 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 qualifications are not graded and none of the units are graded. Students pass or fail the units and the qualifications.
The assessment for these qualifications must comply with the current Skills CFA Assessment Strategy (Skills CFA is the former name for Instructus Skills).
The assessment for these qualifications is wholly internal. There is no mandatory synoptic assessment although centres may choose to devise assessments which cover more than one unit. The assessment is internally quality assured by the centre and externally quality assured by NOCN.
The assessment for these qualifications is flexible. Each unit may be assessed individually and each unit may be achieved individually. The qualifications are complete when students have achieved the required number and combination of units.
The assessment for these qualifications is internal. Each unit can be retaken at any time at the discretion of the centre. There is no limit to the number of times that an assessment can be retaken.
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.
- These qualifications are between 282 and 432 GLH. If they are presented for admission to HE it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications.
Assessments may be taken by students when they are deemed ready to do so by their tutor.
Assessments are internal and results are confirmed by NOCN external quality assurance arrangements.
Certificates are issued to students after verified results have been notified to NOCN.
The qualifications are current qualifications which opened for registrations in 2014. There are no end dates but the qualifications will be reviewed by 31 July 2019.
The results of NOCN Level 3 Diploma in Customer Service and NOCN Level 3 Diploma in Business Administration are not reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL). This does not reflect the validity of the qualification. HEPs will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.
NOCN submits certification data to the appropriate qualifications regulators.
These qualifications may support students to progress onto management qualifications such as the NOCN Level 3 Diploma in Management or to a higher level job role.
Links to the Qualification Specifications are: