Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals (from 2016)

Last updated
Last verified
This is a family of qualifications of various sizes. in a range of subjects.

These qualifications have been revised to meet the full DfE requirements for inclusion in school and college performance tables. Some of the BTEC Nationals have been categorised as Applied Generals, and some as Tech Levels. They are regulated by Ofqual on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

Countries
  • England
  • Wales (Wales now has a separate approval process and so it may be that not all BTEC Nationals are approved for use in Wales)
  • Northern Ireland
  • International
Purpose

The Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals are vocational qualifications designed to develop skills, knowledge, and understanding in a subject area as preparation for employment, higher education, a higher apprenticeship or other training. Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals come in a range of sizes which allows the qualification to form the whole programme of learning, or to be taken alongside other qualifications such as A levels.

Education context

BTEC Nationals have been offered since the formation of BTEC in 1984. In 1996 BTEC merged with London Examinations to become Edexcel, which is now part of Pearson.

The BTEC Nationals have been updated on a regular basis since that date to meet the needs of employers, higher education, and Government. Following the Wolf Review of vocational qualifications in England in 2011, the Department for Education announced the introduction of two categories for Level 3 vocational qualifications, Applied General (AG), and Tech Level (TL). Both categories require qualifications to demonstrate an extended list of characteristics if they are to be reported in school and college performance tables from 2018. These requirements include external assessment and synoptic assessment in both categories, and employer involvement in delivery and assessment in Tech Level qualifications. 

Pearson adopted the same approach to development of the qualifications, whether they were to be categorised as AG or TL. This included involving higher education providers, employers, and professional bodies in the development process, and obtaining letters of recognition from all three stakeholder groups. This ensured that all qualifications will prepare students appropriately for progression to higher education. 

Most of the main subject titles were developed for teaching in September 2016, and have been approved for inclusion in DfE performance tables for reporting from 2018, some categorised as AG and some as TL. Other subjects were developed for first teaching in September 2017, and have been included in performance tables from 2019. Further subject titles are under development for first teaching in September 2018, and will be submitted to the DfE for approval for inclusion in performance tables from 2020.

Awarding organisation
  • Pearson (Edexcel)
Structure

Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals are a family of unit-based qualifications in a range of subjects. There are five different sizes of qualification in the family:

  • Certificate
  • Extended Certificate
  • Foundation Diploma
  • Diploma
  • Extended Diploma

Not all subjects have qualifications at each size.

The main characteristics are as follows:

  • External assessment – BTEC Nationals have at least 40% in AG and at least 33% in TL (smaller sized qualifications have higher percentages)
  • Larger core of mandatory units – BTEC Nationals have at least 60% in AG and at least 50% in TL (smaller sized qualifications have higher percentages)
  • Most internally assessed units have 60 GLH, although some have 90 GLH.
  • Externally assessed units have either 90 GLH or 120 GLH
  • Extended Diplomas in most subjects have 13 units, but the number varies between 12 and 15
  • All qualifications contain synoptic assessment, and specific units are designated as synoptic units
  • Students must pass all externally assessed units, and most or all of the mandatory units
  • In the Extended Diplomas, students must also pass units to the value of 900 GLH out of the total of 1080 GLH
  • One resit only is allowed for externally assessed units
  • One resubmission plus, if needed, one retake (capped at Pass) allowed for internally assessed units
  • More emphasis on research skills
  • Where appropriate, there has been a strengthening and embedding of mathematics and/or English (writing) requirements
Subject areas
  • Animal Management (other title in the suite: Animal Management with Science)
  • Applied Law
  • Applied Science (pathways: Biomedical Science, Analytical & Forensic Science, Physical Science)
  • Art & Design (other titles in the suite: Photography, Graphics, 3D Design & Crafts, Fashion Design & Production)
  • Business (other title in the suite: Enterprise & Entrepreneurship)
  • Children’s Play, Learning & Development
  • Computing (other titles in the suite: Computing for Creative Industries, Computer Science, Computer Systems & Network Support, Business Information Systems)
  • Construction & the Built Environment (other titles in the suite: Building Services Engineering, Civil Engineering)
  • Creative Digital Media Production (other titles in the suite: Film & Television Production, Film & Television Visual Effects; Sound Production; Interactive Publishing, Digital Games Design & Development)
  • Equine Management
  • Engineering (other titles in the suite: Aeronautical Engineering; Computer Engineering, Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Mechanical Engineering)
  • Forensic & Criminal Investigation (other title in the suite: Forensic Investigation)
  • Health & Social Care (pathway: Health Studies)
  • Information Technology
  • Music Technology (other titles in the suite: Digital Music Production, Sound Engineering)
  • Performing Arts (pathways: Acting, Dance, Musical Theatre)
  • Sport (other title in the suite: Fitness Services)
  • Sport & Exercise Science
Levels
  • Level 3

These are Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

A levels are also Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework.

Level 3 is the same level as the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6.

Grading

All units are graded Pass, Merit, and Distinction.

All BTEC Nationals have a qualification grade. These are calculated by converting unit grades into points, and the aggregation of points determines the qualification grade. Each grade on the scale covers a range of points. Grades at qualification level are Pass, Merit, Distinction, and Distinction* (P,M,D,D*).

The two largest qualifications have double or triple grades. Grading scales are as follows:

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

Providers planning to deliver BTEC Nationals require approval from Pearson Education Ltd.

Assessment is through a combination of externally assessed units and internally assessed units. The BTEC Nationals have at least 40% external assessment in those categorised as Applied General, and at least 33% in those categorised as Tech Level. The smaller sized qualifications have higher percentages of external assessment.

All sizes of the BTEC Nationals include synoptic assessment in the mandatory core, allowing learners to draw together skills, knowledge, and understanding from across the qualification. Specific units are identified as synoptic.

Externally assessed units are set and marked by Pearson, and at least a part of the assessment is carried out under supervised conditions. External assessments include:

  • written exams
  • tasks involving an additional activity (e.g. research or an investigation) prior to the supervised part of the assessment
  • tasks carried out under supervision over a number of sessions (students have no access to their materials between sessions)

Internally assessed units are assessed by teachers. These usually involve assignments, but may be exams. They may be in the form of briefs, scenarios, problem solving exercises, and research investigations. They are contextualised using realistic, work-related scenarios, and may be provided by local employers. The assessments may require students to write a report, write a business proposal, deliver a presentation, give the solution to a mathematical problem, give the results, analysis, and conclusions from a practical investigation, etc. All internal assessments are criterion-referenced, based on the achievement of specified learning outcomes. Each unit in a qualification has specified assessment and grading criteria. Assessment and grading are subject to external verification.

A summative unit grade can be awarded at Pass, Merit, or Distinction.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

The points allocated for each unit grade depend on the size of the unit.

Grade

60 GLH unit

90 GLH unit

120 GLH unit

U

0

0

0

Pass

6

9

12

Merit

10

15

20

Distinction

16

24

32

 To achieve a Pass on a BTEC National qualification, students must pass:

  • all externally assessed units
  • most/all of the mandatory units

Additionally, for the Extended Diploma, students must pass units making up 900 GLH out of the total of 1,080 GLH.

The grading scales have points ranges to achieve the higher grades of Merit, Distinction, and Distinction*.

Resit arrangements

Externally assessed units

One resit only.

Internally assessed units

One resubmission only for an assignment. This must be done in the same academic year, within 15 working days of receiving the result.

Students who have failed their resubmission may retake the assessment by doing a different assignment, but achievement on this retake is capped at Pass grade only.

Guided/notional learning hours notes

The guided learning hours for the different sizes are as follows:

  • Certificate – 180 GLH
  • Extended Certificate – 360 GLH
  • Foundation Diploma – 510 or 540 GLH
  • Diploma – 720 GLH
  • Extended Diploma – 1,080 GLH
UCAS Tariff points

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Certificate (first teaching from September 2016)

Grade Points
D* 28
D 24
M 16
P 8

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate (first teaching from September 2016)

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Foundation Diploma (first teaching from September 2016)

Grade Points
D* 84
D 72
M 48
P 24

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (first teaching from September 2016)

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

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma (first teaching from September 2016)

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

All reformed Pearson BTEC titles contain the word 'National'. Also, in the reformed suite of qualifications, the Subsidiary Diploma is called the Extended Certificate, and the 90-Credit Diploma is called the Foundation Diploma.

These qualifications are not credit-based, so HE entry requirements should not make reference to 'credits'.

These qualifications have a much larger mandatory core than the QCF BTEC Nationals, and HE academics advised on the content. Consequently, degree programmes that previously asked for an additional A level or specific optional units may no longer need to do so. 

The content is packaged differently, and the unit titles are different from the unreformed qualifications. Therefore HE providers, that wish to ask for a specific grade on certain content, will need to check on the new title for the unit containing that content.

Most students will be taking at least one external assessment in the summer series of the second year of their programme. Therefore, HE providers will receive the vast majority of results for students taking these BTEC Nationals in August, at around the same time as they receive A level results.

Students will usually take the Extended Diploma on its own.

Those taking the Diploma will usually take it alongside another Level 3 qualification such as an A level, although some may take it on its own

The Certificate, Extended Certificate, and Foundation Diploma will be taken alongside other Level 3 qualifications such as A levels.

A very small number of students will be progressing to HE in 2017 with the smaller sizes (Certificate, Extended Certificate, or Foundation Diploma) of the phase 1 subject RQF BTEC Nationals.

The first significant cohort progressing to HE with the new RQF BTEC Nationals will be in autumn 2018.

The accreditation of the QCF BTEC Nationals has had to be extended because some are named qualifications in apprenticeship frameworks, and the apprenticeships are still undergoing a review process. As a result, not all schools and colleges moved to the phase 1 RQF versions in 2016. Consequently, HE providers will be receiving applications from some students who have taken the QCF version of a particular BTEC subject, and some who have taken the RQF version. This is likely to be the case for the next two to three years.

The different structure for these qualifications may result in different outcomes from the QCF BTEC Nationals. Pearson will keep higher education providers informed about the outcomes in a timely fashion to help inform their decisions at Confirmation and Clearing.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

The assessment contains external assessments. These are available twice a year, in December/January and May/June. Most students will be taking at least one external assessment in the summer series of the second year of their programme. Therefore, HE providers will receive the vast majority of results for students taking these BTEC Nationals in August, at around the same time as they receive A level results.

Qualification date
Starting from 01 Sep 2016
Qualification dates notes

These are current qualifications. 

Phase 1 qualifications were developed for first teaching in 2016. 

Phase 2 qualifications were developed for first teaching in 2017.

Phase 3 qualifications are being developed for first teaching in 2018.

Reporting and certification information

Results are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

View the results available through ABL.

Certification results are published annually in the public domain.

 

Phase 1

The first awards of the Certificate, Extended Certificate, and Foundation Diploma will be in summer 2017.

The first awards of the Diploma and Extended Diploma will be in summer 2018.

Phase 2

The first awards of the Certificate, Extended Certificate, and Foundation Diploma will be in summer 2018.

The first awards of the Diploma and Extended Diploma will be in summer 2019.

Phase 3

The first awards of the Certificate, Extended Certificate, and Foundation Diploma will be in summer 2019.

The first awards of the Diploma and Extended Diploma will be in summer 2020.

Progression information

The Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diplomas are accepted on their own by degree programmes at a wide range of higher education providers. Some degree programmes require the BTEC to be in a closely related subject, but some do not. 

Some degree programmes will accept the Diploma qualification on its own, but with the same Tariff points as the Extended Diploma (i.e. with higher grades), but many will require another Level 3 qualification, such as an A level, as well.

The smaller sized BTEC Nationals are accepted when in combination with other appropriate Level 3 qualifications, such as A levels.

Higher education providers generally welcome the changes made to the BTEC Nationals, including a larger mandatory core of appropriate content, and the addition of some external assessments. The RQF BTEC Nationals are more widely accepted than the QCF versions and, consequently, learners may find that some higher education providers have entry requirements for the RQF BTEC Nationals that are different from those for the QCF BTEC Nationals.