Pearson BTEC National (QCF) Tech levels (interim-reformed)

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The QIP covers all Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals (QCF), incl. 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.

These qualifications meet the interim-reformed requirements for 2016 and 2017 performance tables.

Countries
  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Wales
  • International
Purpose

BTEC Nationals are vocational qualifications designed to develop skills, knowledge and understanding in a sector area as preparation for employment, higher education, higher apprenticeship or other training.

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. 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 Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals (QCF) 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 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.

Awarding organisation
  • Pearson (Edexcel)
Qualification codes
500/8242/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Agriculture (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/8243/7 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Animal Management (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/7719/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Applied Law (QCF) (360 GLH))
501/1220/X (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Blacksmithing and Metalworking (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/7140/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/8262/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Countryside Management (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/7842/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Creative Media Production (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/7841/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Engineering (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/8352/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Fish Management (QCF) (360 GLH))
501/0310/6 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Floristry (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/9451/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/9432/4 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Horse Management (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/8351/X (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Horticulture (QCF) (360 GLH))
501/0314/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Land-based Technology (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/7380/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Production Arts (QCF) (360 GLH))
500/9863/9 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Travel and Tourism (QCF) (360 GLH))
600/4344/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Vehicle Technology (QCF) (360 GLH))
600/6438/9 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Aviation Operations (QCF) (383 GLH))
601/1097/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Agriculture (QCF) (540 GLH))
601/0563/X (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Animal Management (QCF) (540 GLH))
600/3890/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Art and Design (QCF) (540 GLH))
601/1095/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (QCF) (540 GLH))
601/1098/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Countryside Management (QCF) (540 GLH))
600/6445/6 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Creative Media Production (QCF) (540 GLH))
600/3888/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Engineering (QCF) (540 GLH))
601/1099/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture (QCF) (540 GLH))
601/0564/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Horse Management (QCF) (540 GLH))
601/1100/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Horticulture (QCF) (540 GLH))
601/0565/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Land-based Technology (QCF) (540 GLH))
601/1094/6 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Production Arts (QCF) (540 GLH))
600/6539/4 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Travel and Tourism (QCF) (540 GLH))
600/6424/9 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma in Aviation Operations (QCF) (563 GLH))
500/7799/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/8240/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Agriculture (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/8311/9 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Animal Management (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/7298/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Art and Design (QCF) (720 GLH))
501/1219/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Blacksmithing and Metalworking (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/7137/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/8261/9 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Countryside Management (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/7888/4 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Creative Media Production (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/8098/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Electrical/Electronic Engineering (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/8154/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Engineering (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/8353/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Fish Management (QCF) (720 GLH))
501/0345/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Floristry (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/9449/X (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/9431/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Horse Management (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/8336/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/9150/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in IT (QCF) (720 GLH))
501/0299/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Land-based Technology (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/7319/9 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Manufacturing Engineering (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/7283/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Mechanical Engineering (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/7837/9 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Music Technology (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/7315/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Operations and Maintenance Engineering (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/7364/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Production Arts (QCF) (720 GLH))
500/9862/7 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Travel and Tourism (QCF) (720 GLH))
600/4343/X (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Vehicle Technology (QCF) (720 GLH))
601/2525/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Certificate in Children's Play, Learning and Development (Early Years Educator) (VRQ) (720 GLH))
600/6425/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Aviation Operations (QCF) (743 GLH))
500/7800/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/8301/6 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/8099/4 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/8265/6 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/7566/4 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design (QCF) (1080 GLH))
501/1218/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Blacksmithing and Metalworking (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/7139/7 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/8302/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Countryside Management (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/7878/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/8097/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Electrical/Electronic Engineering (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/8165/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/8344/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Fish Management (QCF) (1080 GLH))
501/0346/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Floristry (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/9448/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/9428/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horse Management (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/8266/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/8209/7 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Hospitality (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/9149/9 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT (QCF) (1080 GLH))
501/0236/9 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Land-based Technology (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/7314/X (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Manufacturing Engineering (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/7296/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Mechanical Engineering (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/7716/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Music Technology (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/7317/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Operations and Maintenance Engineering (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/7381/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Production Arts (QCF) (1080 GLH))
500/9861/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Travel and Tourism (QCF) (1080 GLH))
600/4328/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Vehicle Technology (QCF) (1080 GLH))
601/2527/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Children's Play, Learning and Development (Early Years Educator) (VRQ) (1080 GLH))
600/6439/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Aviation Operations (QCF) (1179 GLH))
Structure

There are five different sizes of Pearson BTEC Level 3 National (QCF) qualifications:

  • Certificate - 180 GLH
  • Subsidiary Diploma - 360 GLH
  • 90-credit 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, categorised by their guided learning hours (GLH). As these are QCF qualifications, each unit has a credit value based on its size: one credit is equal to learning outcomes achievable in six guided learning hours.

Most qualification sizes contain both mandatory and optional content, with the number of mandatory units increasing from the smallest to largest sizes. The number of mandatory units for a particular size may also vary across subject areas. 

For more detailed information on the units/structure of a Pearson BTEC National, you should review the specification of the individual qualification you are interested in on the Pearson website.

Visit the Pearson website

Subject areas
  • Aircraft maintenance
  • Aeronautical engineering
  • Agriculture
  • Applied law
  • Applied science
  • Art and design
  • Aviation operations
  • Beauty therapy
  • Blacksmithing and metalworking
  • Business
  • Construction and the built environment
  • Countryside management
  • Creative media production
  • Dental technology
  • Electrical/electronic engineering
  • Engineering
  • Enterprise and entrepreneurship
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Fish management
  • Floristry
  • Forestry and arboriculture
  • Health and social care
  • Horse management
  • Horticulture
  • Hospitality
  • Information technology
  • Land-based technology
  • Manufacturing engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Music
  • Music technology
  • Operations and maintenance engineering
  • Performing arts
  • Personal and business finance
  • Pharmaceutical science
  • Production arts
  • Public services
  • Sport
  • Sport and exercise science(s)
  • Travel and tourism
  • Vehicle technology
Levels
  • Level 3

These Pearson BTEC Level 3 National qualifications are regulated to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).¹

Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6 / 7.


¹ The QCF was a credit-based transfer system which recognised qualifications and units by awarding credits. It has now been withdrawn for all new qualifications and replaced by the RQF. The RQF is the new system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by Ofqual, indexing them by level and size.

Grading

The overall qualifications are graded as follows:

  • Certificate: P, M, D, D*
  • Subsidiary Diploma: P, M, D, D*
  • 90-credit 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*

Note: the D* grade was first introduced in results issued for QCF qualifications in 2012 (and for CPLD in 2014).

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

Providers wishing to run BTEC Nationals require approval from Pearson Education Ltd.

All units of QCF BTEC Nationals are internally assessed. They are contextualised using realistic, work-related scenarios, and may be provided by local employers. These units usually involve assignments, but may be exams. They may be in the form of:

  • written reports/business proposals,
  • presentations
  • solving and explaining a mathematical problem
  • reporting on the findings of a practical investigation

All assessment is 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 moderation. For more detailed assessment information, you should review the specification of the individual qualification you are interested in on the Pearson website.

Visit the Pearson website

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Learners who achieve the minimum eligible credit value specified by the rules of combination for a qualification will achieve the qualification at Pass grade. The credit values for each qualification size are:

  • Certificate: 30
  • Subsidiary Diploma: 60
  • 90-credit Diploma: 90
  • Diploma: 120
  • Extended Diploma: 180

Learners will be awarded a Merit, Distinction and Distinction* qualification grade by the aggregation of points gained through the successful achievement of individual units. The number of points available is dependent on the unit level and grade achieved, and the credit size of the unit.

For each Level 3 credit, students will achieve the following number of points:

Pass: 7

Merit: 8

Distinction: 9

Hence, for a unit with a credit value of 10, a student achieving Merit will achieve 80 points (8 x 10).

The grade Distinction* (D*) is only available at qualification level, and reflects high level achievement across a number of units.


Pearson Education Ltd automatically calculates the qualification grade for learners when unit grades are submitted.

The grade ranges for each qualification are as follows:

BTEC Level 3 Certificate

Points range above Pass grade:

230-249 Merit (M)

250-259 Distinction (D)

260 and above Distinction* (D*)

BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma

Points range above Pass grade:

460-499 Merit (M)

500-519 Distinction (D)

520 and above Distinction* (D*)

BTEC Level 3 90-credit Diploma

Points range above Pass grade:

660-689 MP

690-719 MM

720-749 DM

750-769 DD

BTEC Level 3 Diploma

Points range above Pass grade:

1,300-1,339 MPP

1,340-1,379 MMP

1,380-1,419 MMM

1,420-1,459 DMM

1,460-1,499 DDM

1,500-1,529 DDD

1,530-1,559 D*DD

1,560-1,589 D*D*D

1,590 and above D*D*D*

Resit arrangements

The QCF requires learners to pass all units. Consequently, for the BTEC Nationals on the QCF, learners who have failed the unit are allowed one retake opportunity. This must be on a new task/assignment and achievement is capped at Pass grade.

Guided/notional learning hours
BTEC Certificate: 180 hours
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma: 360 hours
BTEC 90-credit Diploma: 540 hours
BTEC Diploma: 720 hours
BTEC Extended Diploma: 1808 hours
UCAS Tariff points

Pearson BTEC Certificate (QCF)

Grade Points
D* 28
D 24
M 16
P 8

Pearson BTEC Subsidiary Diploma (QCF)

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

Pearson BTEC 90-Credit Diploma (QCF)

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

Pearson BTEC Diploma (QCF)

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

Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF)

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 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 learners 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.

Timing of assessments/results for students

Students are assessed throughout their programme of learning and may submit units for qualification award at any point.

Results are provided on a rolling basis. Students submitting units for calculation of their qualification grade by the deadline for the summer will receive results in July.

Qualification dates notes

These qualifications are current.

Reporting and certification information

The results of Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals qualifications are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

View the results available through ABL.

Detailed results information by subject, grade, etc are also available on the Pearson website.

Visit the Pearson website

Progression information

Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals 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.