This qualification is not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables because it is not designed to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 5 performance tables.
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.
This qualification is appropriate for specialist learning support practitioners who work with deaf students in FE colleges, adult and community learning centres, or learning providers, and for those supporting work-based training such as in voluntary, community, private, and public organisations. It allows for the underpinning knowledge, understanding, and skills to fulfil the specialist learning support practitioner role.
This qualification is designed for post-16 students and falls 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.
This qualification has 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
This qualification comprises eight units, all of which are mandatory.
- User support
- Preparing to Support Learning
- Learning Support in Lifelong Learning contexts
- Principles of Learning Support - Communication Support for Deaf Learners
- Supporting Learning – Communication Support for Deaf Learners
- Reflective Journal
- Supporting Bilingual Access
- Clear Speech and Notetaking
- Accessible English for Deaf and Deafblind People
- 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.
Candidates must achieve a Pass in all units to achieve an overall Pass in the qualification.
Assessment for all the units associated with this qualification is in the form of submission of a portfolio.
All units of this qualification carry equal weighting.
All units are assessed individually, and can be resat should candidates fail one of the units of the eight required.
190 guided learning hours.
140 additional study hours.
For comparison, an A level is 360 GLH.
Signature Level 3 Certificate in Communication Support for Deaf Learners
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.
- If they are presented for admission to HE it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications.
Holders of this qualification will have the ability to communicate with and support deaf students.
Candidates' assessments are 'on demand', with a notice period of between one and six weeks.
Candidates receive their results within six weeks of the assessment date.
Certificates are issued to successful candidates within four weeks of results being issued.
This qualification is current.
The results of this qualification 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.
Certification information is reported to Ofqual and the DfE.
Signature offers other qualifications in BSL and Deafblind, which candidates may be interested in pursuing.