OCR Cambridge Technicals Tech levels (reformed)

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The QIP covers all OCR Cambridge Technical Tech level qualifications that meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and contribute towards performance measures from 2018.
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.

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. 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 characteristics that must be met by Tech level qualifications as detailed in the DfE criteria are as follows:

 

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

 

These changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Size: Tech level qualifications must require at least 300 guided learning hours (GLH). Applied General qualifications must require at least 150 GLH.
  • Appropriate content: A qualification specification must state the specific content that students must pass to achieve the qualification. Mandatory content and the associated contribution to the overall grade must make up at least:
    • 40% of a Tech level
    • 60% of an Applied General
  • Appropriate assessment: Tech levels must have at least 30% external assessment. Applied General must have 40% external assessment. Students will also be given one opportunity to resit.
  • Synoptic assessment.
  • Grading: All vocational qualifications must be graded using three grading points or more, such as Distinction/Merit/Pass.
  • Employer involvement: Tech levels must be recognised and endorsed by a trade/professional body or at least 5 employers registered with Companies House.

Tech levels and Applied Generals, whilst both being vocational qualifications, differ in size and purpose. OCR Technical Tech levels range from 360 GLH, are aimed at learners with an interest in a particular industry or occupation, and help provide entry into employment, onto an apprenticeship, or into higher education in a related vocational area. OCR Technical Applied Generals are smaller (180-1080 GLH), are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning, include a higher proportion of external assessment and may help learners enter to a range of higher education courses.

HEPs should take care when reviewing vocational qualifications for entry, see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’.

Further information about Tech level qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet these 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.  Tech level 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 qualifications.

Awarding organisation
  • OCR
Qualification codes
601/7099/2 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma in IT (360 GLH))
601/7260/5 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Foundation Diploma in Digital Media (540 GLH))
601/4600/X (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Foundation Diploma in Engineering (540 GLH))
601/7100/5 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Foundation Diploma in IT (540 GLH))
601/7095/5 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Foundation Diploma in Sport and Physical Activity (540 GLH))
601/7261/7 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Diploma in Digital Media (720 GLH))
601/4599/7 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Diploma in Engineering (720 GLH))
601/7101/7 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Diploma in IT (720 GLH))
601/7096/7 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Diploma in Sport and Physical Activity (720 GLH)))
603/0318/9 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma in Digital Media (1080 GLH))
603/0322/0 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma in Engineering (1080 GLH))
603/0309/8 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma in IT (1080 GLH))
603/0405/4 (OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma in Sport and Physical Activity (1080 GLH))
Structure

There are four different sizes of OCR Cambridge Technicals that meet the full requirements set by the DfE and contribute towards performance measures from 2018:

  • Introductory Diploma: 360 GLH
  • Foundation Diploma: 540 GLH
  • Diploma: 720 GLH
  • Extended Diploma: 1080 GLH

Not all subjects have qualifications at each size.

The specifications are modular in structure and are made up of a series of units. The rules of combination for each qualification size specify the minimum number of units to be achieved through mandatory and optional units.

For more detailed information on the units/structure of an OCR Cambridge Technical, you should review the specification of the individual qualification you are interested in on the OCR website.

Visit the OCR website

Subject areas
  • Information technology
  • Media
  • Engineering
  • Sport and physical activity
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 overall qualifications are graded as follows:

  • Introductory Diploma: P, M, D, D*
  • Foundation Diploma: PP, MP, MM, DM, DD, D*D, D*D*
  • Diploma: PP, MP, MM, DM, DD, D*D, D*D*
  • Extended Diploma: PPP, MPP, MMP, MMM, DMM, DDM, DDD, D*DD, D*D*D, D*D*D*

Individual units are graded P, M, D. The grades for each unit attract points, which are added together to identify the final overarching qualification grade.

Assessment

As noted in Education Context, to be classified as a Tech level qualification the qualification in question must meet certain criteria. This includes:

  • A minimum of 30% external assessment
  • A minimum of 40% mandatory core content
  • An element of synoptic assessment
  • There is a single resit opportunity

Units are either centrally assessed and externally moderated by OCR, or externally assessed.

However, the application of this may differ by awarding organisation, therefore if providers require full assessment detail they should review the specification of the individual qualification they are interested in.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

All OCR Cambridge Technical qualifications have a minimum of 40% external assessment, with some qualifications and unit combinations exceeding this requirement.

For specific grade ranges and unit information, you should review the specification of the individual qualification you are interested in on the OCR website.

Visit the OCR website

Resit arrangements

Reformed Tech level qualifications are only allowed one resit opportunity per unit. The resit must be a new task or assignment, different to the original assessment.

Guided/notional learning hours
Introductory Diploma: 360 hours
Foundation Diploma: 540 hours
Diploma: 720 hours
Extended Diploma: 1080 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

Tech levels require a minimum size of 300 GLH to provide learners with sufficient time for meaningful skills development that will equip them to follow a particular trade or profession; for comparison, the size of one A level is 360 GLH.

UCAS Tariff points

OCR Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

OCR Cambridge Technical Foundation Diploma

Grade Points
D*D* 84
D*D 78
DD 72
DM 60
MM 48
MP 36
PP 24

OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma

Grade Points
D*D* 112
D*D 104
DD 96
DM 80
MM 64
MP 48
PP 32

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma

Grade Points
D*D*D* 168
D*D*D 160
D*DD 152
DDD 144
DDM 128
DMM 112
MMM 96
MMP 80
MPP 64
PPP 48
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 meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to their predecessors and Applied General qualifications, and are likely to result in learners developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date.
  • The reformed qualifications include both external and synoptic assessment, as well as changes to resit processes. These changes are likely to result in fewer learners passing the qualification. Equally, it is likely that grade distributions will change. In light of this, HEPs may wish to review their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies in relation to these qualifications.
  • 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.
  • A larger mandatory core means that HEPs who require certain levels of achievement in particular units or ask for specific units to satisfy subject knowledge requirements should familiarise themselves with the new content specifications to ensure that these requirements are still valid. It should be noted that not all learners will be able choose their optional units and these may be prescribed by the school or college, therefore HEPs should be cautious if requiring achievement in optional modules as part of their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies.

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

Applicants holding reformed Tech level qualifications will have had experience of external and synoptic assessment.

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.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

External assessments are available twice a year, in January and June.

UCAS applicants will have their results sent directly to UCAS on the same day as A level students.

Qualification dates notes

These qualifcations are current.

Reporting and certification information

The results of OCR Cambridge Technical qualifications are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

View the results available through ABL.

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.

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).

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.