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)
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.
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
Qualification specifications and purpose statements can be found on the TQUK website.