Pearson BTEC National Tech levels (reformed)

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The QIP covers all Pearson BTEC National 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 (Wales now has a separate approval process and so it may be that not all BTEC Nationals are approved for use in Wales)
  • International
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.

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.

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. Pearson BTEC National Tech levels range from 180-1,080 GLH, are aimed at students 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. Applied Generals are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning, include a higher proportion of external assessment and may help students 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
  • Pearson (Edexcel)
Qualification codes
601/7524/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Animal Management (360 GLH))
603/0862/X (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Construction and the Built Environment (360 GLH))
603/1232/4 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Digital Music Production (360 GLH))
601/9064/4 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Equine Management (360 GLH))
603/1233/6 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Sound Engineering (360 GLH))
603/1206/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Technical Level in Food and Beverage Service Supervision (360 GLH))
603/1208/7 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 Technical Level in Professional Cookery for Professional Chefs (Chef de Partie) (510 GLH))
601/7525/4 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Foundation Diploma in Animal Management (540 GLH))
603/0863/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Foundation Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (540 GLH))
603/0211/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Foundation Diploma in Music Technology (540 GLH))
601/7224/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in 3D Design and Crafts (720 GLH))
601/7577/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering (720 GLH))
601/7523/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Animal Management (720 GLH))
603/1218/X (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Building Services Engineering (720 GLH))
601/7337/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Business Information Systems (720 GLH))
601/7571/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Children's Play, Learning and Development (Early Years Educator) (720 GLH))
603/1217/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Civil Engineering (720 GLH))
601/7578/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Computer Engineering (720 GLH))
601/7338/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Computer Science (720 GLH))
601/7339/7 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Computer Systems and Network Support (720 GLH))
601/7340/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Computing for Creative Industries (720 GLH))
603/0864/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (720 GLH))
601/7473/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Digital Games Design and Development (720 GLH))
601/7472/9 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Digital Publishing (720 GLH))
601/7579/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (720 GLH))
601/7580/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Engineering (720 GLH))
601/7470/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Film and Television Production (720 GLH))
601/7471/7 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Film and Television Visual Effects (720 GLH))
601/7215/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Fitness Services (720 GLH))
601/7226/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Graphics (720 GLH))
601/7582/5 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Manufacturing Engineering (720 GLH))
601/7583/7 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering (720 GLH))
601/7350/6 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Music Technology (720 GLH))
601/7227/7 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Photography (720 GLH))
601/7474/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Sound Production (720 GLH))
601/7225/3 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Fashion Design and Production (720 GLH))
601/7585/0 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering (1080 GLH))
601/7527/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Animal Management with Science (1080 GLH))
603/1219/1 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Building Services Engineering (1080 GLH))
603/1216/6 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Civil Engineering (1080 GLH))
601/7586/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Computer Engineering (1080 GLH))
603/0861/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (1080 GLH))
601/7587/4 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (1080 GLH))
601/7588/6 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Engineering (1080 GLH))
601/7589/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Manufacturing Engineering (1080 GLH))
601/7590/4 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Mechanical Engineering (1080 GLH))
601/7351/8 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Music Technology (1080 GLH))
601/7572/2 (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Children's Play, Learning and Development (Early Years Educator) (1080 GLH))
Structure

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

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

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).

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
    • Animal management
    • Art and design
    • Computing
    • Construction and the built environment
    • Creative media production
    • Equine
    • Engineering
    • Music technology
    • Sport
    • Food and beverage service
    • Hospitality: professional cookery
    • Animal management with science
    • Art & design includes: photography, graphics, 3D design & crafts, fashion design & production
    • Children’s play, learning & development
    • Computing includes: computing for creative industries, computer science, computer systems & network support, business information systems
    • Construction & the built environment includes: building services engineering, civil engineering
    • Creative digital media production includes: film & television production, film & television visual effects; sound production; interactive publishing, digital games design & development
    • Engineering includes: aeronautical engineering; computer engineering, electrical & electronic engineering, manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering
    • Music technology includes: digital music production, sound engineering
    • Sport includes: fitness services
    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:

    Extended Certificate: P, M, D, D*

    Foundation Diploma: P, M, 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

    For BTEC Nationals, units are designated as internally, externally or synoptically assessed. Internally assessed units are 60–90 GLH and externally assessed units are 90-120 GLH.

    All sizes of the BTEC Nationals include synoptic assessment in the mandatory core, allowing students 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 may 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. 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

    Each unit in a qualification has specified assessment and grading criteria. Assessment and grading are subject to external verification.

    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

    All BTEC National qualifications have a minimum of 40% external assessment.

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

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

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

    Visit the Pearson 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.

    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
    Extended Certificate: 360 hours
    Foundation Diploma: 510 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 students 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.

    The Foundation Diploma is either 510 or 540 GLH, depending on the subject.

    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

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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 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 students 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 students 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 students 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

    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.

    Reporting and certification information

    The results of BTEC National 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.