These qualifications are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables but have been designed to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 5 performance tables.
- Northern Ireland
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 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.
The Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment suite of qualifications has been developed from the Design Engineer Construct! ® Learning Programme developed by Class Of Your Own Limited to support the Government's 'Building Schools for the Future' school building programme. The purpose of the programme is to develop awareness of the career opportunities for professionals who work in Architecture, Engineering and Construction (‘AEC’) sectors, and bring real-world applications to core subjects.
The purpose of the TQUK Level 3 Diploma in Design Engineer Construct! is to recognise learning at Level 3 relevant to digital building design, engineering, and construction, with an emphasis on social, economic, and environmental sustainability. It is suitable for students who are interested in pursuing technical and professional careers in the Built Environment, providing them with a solid understanding of the people and processes involved in the development and delivery of building projects. The qualifications are accessible to students in secondary schools, university technical colleges, further education colleges, international schools, and other education providers. The Level 3 Certificate in Design Engineer Construct! addresses the first half of the Diploma programme.
DEC! aims to address the lack of young technical and professional built environment talent, through the delivery of a dedicated curriculum subject, which develops a range of skills and knowledge fundamental to successful engagement in the 21st century digital industry, creating awareness of the range of career opportunities in architecture, engineering, and construction (‘AEC’).
The themes of social, environmental, and economic sustainability run throughout the programme, and students discover how to minimise their own, and their communities', impact on the planet through role play and project-based learning. They understand the value of inclusivity and diversity, designing for a world where everyone matters.
The DEC! suite integrates creativity and applied science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the context of the Digital Built Environment, within the context of recognised qualifications across three progressive levels:
- TQUK Level 1 Certificate in Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment (RQF)
- TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment (RQF)
- TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment (RQF)
- TQUK Level 3 Diploma in Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment (RQF)
These qualifications are designed for post-16 students and fall 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.
These qualifications have 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, and AS and A levels. Vocational qualifications must comply with the regulator’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.
These qualifications provide an opportunity to progress into higher education or employment in the digital built environment. They provide entry to a wide range of career pathways, for example, in architecture and architectural technology, geospatial and property surveying, quantity surveying and cost management, civil, structural, and building services, engineering, and construction project management. They are designed to be delivered in schools for students aged 16 – 19.
To achieve the TQUK Level 3 Diploma in Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment (RQF) students must achieve six mandatory units. To achieve the TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment (RQF) students must achieve three mandatory units.
Both qualifications are designed for students to progress through the programme in a linear fashion, with the knowledge and experience gained in each unit being used later in the programme.
- Construction and the built environment
- Design engineering
- Project work
- Environmental sustainability
The Level 3 Diploma also includes a unit which focusses on the lifecycle and financial planning of a construction project.
- Level 3
Level 3 qualifications are regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England and Northern Ireland.
Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6/7.
The qualifications are graded using the grading system A*/A/B/C/D/E. The overall grade for the qualifications is calculated using a points-based system. A point score is awarded for each assessment component (exam and portfolio), before being weighted, combined, and translated into a grade.
Internal assessment portfolio marking
The internal assessor will mark the portfolio tasks in accordance with the clear levels of attainment contained in the assessment brief. Each attainment level per task is allocated a mark. Each task is eligible to achieve a between one – six marks. Less than one constitutes a fail in that task, and therefore in that unit. The marks for each task per unit are added together to create a score and point per unit. The unit points are then added to create an overall grade for the portfolio for submission to the awarding organisation.
External exam marking
The TQUK external assessors are required to mark the exam in accordance with the pre-standardised mark scheme. All papers are then subject to the application of variable marking boundaries to maintain comparable standards over time. There is a minimum pass mark per unit of six marks. Students are eligible to achieve up to ten marks per unit. Variable marking boundaries are then applied to each paper that achieved the minimum pass mark.
Calculating the qualification grade
The grade from the portfolio and the grade from the exam are converted into points. The portfolio and exam points are then weighted as follows:
- 50% portfolio: points X 0.5 to weight the portfolio score
- 50% exam: points X 0.5 to weight the exam score
Weighted points are added to produce a final points score. These points are used to determine the overall grade for the qualification.
All assessments are required to have a minimum of Grade E awarded for the student to achieve a final grade. Students who do not reach a minimum of Grade E for all assessments will not be awarded the qualification.
The qualification is assessed by a combination of internally set and marked assessments, subject to external quality assurance and an externally set examination. The internally marked portfolio is weighted as 50%, and the externally set and marked exam at 50%.
The externally set and marked element is composed of a two-hour exam. The exam serves as the synoptic element of the assessment in accordance with DfE requirements.
External moderation – portfolio
Each scheduled exam window will have a corresponding window in which portfolios will be quality assured by TQUK, prior to confirmation of the final grade. Prior to this window, all assessment and internal quality assurance activities related to the portfolios will need to be completed by the centre, and the provisional marks and grades reported to TQUK. TQUK will then use this information to arrange an external quality assurance activity with the centre. This external quality assurance process is intended to confirm the marks which the assessors have awarded to the students for individual assessments, and to ensure the internal quality assurance procedures and outcomes are in line with the expectations of the TQUK external quality assurance team. It is possible that the result of these external quality assurance checks will result in the adjustment of marks awarded by individual assessors. It is expected that the centre IQA will already have taken a view on the marks awarded by assessors, and made adjustments where they see fit.
External moderation – exam
TQUK will conduct external moderation on the exam scripts which are completed by students. This moderation will occur in several stages from the marking of the scripts submitted by all students in the given exam window, through to the final awarding and confirmation of grades by TQUK.
The internally marked portfolio is weighted as 50%, and the externally set and marked exam at 50%. Both of these assessments cover all of the units of the qualification; three for the Certificate and six for the Diploma. The units in these assessments are equally weighted.
Internal assessment portfolio resubmission
Students who are unsuccessful in any unit of the internal assessment are offered a maximum of one opportunity to resubmit the evidence associated with that unit, within their period of registration. Students are not eligible to be offered feedback on their original internal assessment portfolio, to prevent students who have not passed from being given an unfair advantage. Students will only be permitted one internal reassessment opportunity per failed assessment.
Externally assessed exam resits
External reassessment requires Students to retake the full examination in line with the TQUK examination timetable. Students will be permitted one external reassessment opportunity per failed examination. Centres may be required to pay an additional reassessment fee per student. All reassessments must be conducted in accordance with the assessment specification.
TQUK Level 3 Diploma in Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment (RQF)
TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment (RQF)
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 apprenticeship
- these qualifications are 360 (Diploma) and 180 (Certificate) GLH. If they are presented for admission to HE, it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications
External assessments will take place at a date and time specified by TQUK in advance, in line with the TQUK exam timetable. The dates of these exams will vary year-on-year, but will be scheduled with one in the summer term and one in the winter term.
Internal assessments will be completed throughout the student's programme, and subject to external moderation.
Provisional results will be issued at the end of March and in mid-August respectively, for the student's overall result for the qualification. Certificates for the March results will be issued in May, and certificates for the August results will be issued in October.
Both qualifications are current, and are due to be first awarded in 2018.
The results of the TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment (RQF), and the TQUK Level 3 Diploma in Design, Engineer, Construct! The Digital Built Environment (RQF), 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.
TQUK submit certification data on a quarterly basis to Ofqual, which is then published in the public domain.
Students could also progress to ‘Trailblazer’ higher apprenticeships. These apprenticeships feature technical and degree-level routes into AEC careers. The qualifications would complement other subject areas at Level 3 such as mathematics, physics, engineering or digital technologies to broaden the curriculum.
Following successful completion of higher education study and/or apprenticeship completion, students could progress to Chartered status through an appropriate professional body.
With a range of transferable knowledge and skills, students could also access wider industry opportunities, for example, in the town planning, creative and digital, financial, and legal sectors.
Qualification specifications and purpose statements can be found on the TQUK website.