VTCT Tech levels (reformed)

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The QIP covers all VTCT 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
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.

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. VTCT Tech levels range from 360 GLH, are aimed at learners 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. VTCT Applied Generals are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning, include a higher proportion of external assessment and may help learners 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
  • VTCT
Qualification codes
601/6991/6 (VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Hairdressing)
601/6990/4 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing)
601/6996/5 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing for Chemical Technicians)
601/7004/9 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing for Colour Technicians)
601/6994/1 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing for Cutting and Styling Technicians)
601/6993/X (VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Barbering)
601/6992/8 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Barbering)
601/6981/3 (VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Beauty Make-up Techniques)
601/6979/5 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Make-up Techniques)
601/6988/6 (VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Theatrical and Media Make-up)
601/6987/4 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Theatrical and Media Make-up)
601/6998/9 (VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Advanced Professional Cookery)
601/6997/7 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Professional Cookery)
601/6999/0 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Professional Patisserie and Confectionery)
601/6983/7 (VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Beauty Therapy)
601/6982/5 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Therapy)
601/6989/8 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Complementary Therapies)
601/7002/5 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Massage and Therapies for Sport)
601/6976/X (VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Massage Therapies)
601/6975/8 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Massage Therapies)
601/6978/3 (VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Spa Therapy)
601/6977/1 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Spa Therapy)
601/6986/2 (VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Nail Technologies)
601/6984/9 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technologies)
601/7001/3 (VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training)
Structure

All qualifications are unitised and contain mandatory units. Some structures also offer optional units, but at least 40% of units are mandatory.

Full structures and Rules of Combination can be found by searching qualification details on the VTCT website at: www.vtct.org.uk/find-a-centre/.

Subject areas
  • Hospitality: professional cookery
  • Hairdressing
  • Barbering
  • Beauty therapy
  • Sport and exercise science(s)
  • Sports sciences and the active leisure industry
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

Qualifications are graded D*/D/M/P.

Optional units are graded Pass/Fail.

Mandatory units are graded Distinction/Merit/Pass/Fail.

Grades of the mandatory units - two practical examinations and one synoptic assessment contribute to the overall grade of the qualification.

Full details of how the grade is calculated are published in each qualification specification, available by searching the VTCT website at www.vtct.org.uk/find-a-centre/.

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

The above is the minimum requirements set out by the Department for Education. However, the application of this may differ by awarding organisation, therefore if providers require full assessment detail they should review the specification of the individual qualification they are interested in.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

To be awarded the qualification, learners must successfully achieve the following assessments:

  • Externally set and internally marked graded practical assessments (50% of qualification grade)
  • Externally set and marked examinations (30% of qualification grade)
  • Externally set and internally marked graded synoptic assessment (20% of qualification grade)
  • Portfolio of evidence (does not contribute to the overall qualification grade)
Resit arrangements

Repeat submissions are not allowed. Learners who fail to achieve the required Pass mark in the external examinations or are deemed to have under performed, are permitted ONE retake opportunity. The retake must be at a different examination and sitting, and it is expected that further teaching/tuition would have taken place.

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.

Guided/notional learning hours
VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Hairdressing (543 TQT): 440 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing (450 TQT): 365 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing for Chemical Technicians (475 TQT): 385 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing for Colour Technicians (444 TQT): 360 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing for Cutting and Styling Technicians (475 TQT): 385 hours
VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Barbering (537 TQT): 435 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Barbering (456 TQT): 370 hours
VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Beauty Make-up Techniques (570 TQT): 440 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Make-up Techniques (473 TQT): 365 hours
VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Theatrical and Media Make-up (615 TQT): 475 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Theatrical and Media Make-up (531 TQT): 410 hours
VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Advanced Professional Cookery (766 TQT): 600 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Professional Cookery (574 TQT): 450 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Professional Patisserie and Confectionery (472 TQT): 370 hours
VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Beauty Therapy (609 TQT): 470 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Therapy (492 TQT): 380 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Complementary Therapies (466 TQT): 360 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Massage and Therapies for Sport (625 TQT): 400 hours
VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Massage Therapies (516 TQT): 475 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Massage Therapies (479 TQT): 370 hours
VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Spa Therapy (667 TQT): 515 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Spa Therapy (531 TQT): 410 hours
VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Nail Technologies (583 TQT): 450 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technologies (486 TQT): 375 hours
VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training (673 TQT): 431 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

Tech levels require a minimum size of 300 GLH to provide learners 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.

UCAS Tariff points

VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Hairdressing

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing for Chemical Technicians

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing for Colour Technicians

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Hairdressing for Cutting and Styling Technicians

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Barbering

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Barbering

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Beauty Make-up Techniques

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Make-up Techniques

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Theatrical and Media Make-up

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Theatrical and Media Make-up

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Advanced Professional Cookery

Grade Points
D* 84
D 72
M 48
P 24

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Professional Cookery

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Professional Patisserie and Confectionery

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Beauty Therapy

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Therapy

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Complementary Therapies

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Massage and Therapies for Sport

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Massage Therapies

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Massage Therapies

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Spa Therapy

Grade Points
D* 84
D 72
M 48
P 24

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Spa Therapy

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Extended Diploma in Nail Technologies

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technologies

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16

VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training

Grade Points
D* 56
D 48
M 32
P 16
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 learners 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 learners 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 learners 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

Exam dates are specified by VTCT and published at the start of each academic year. Learners should be entered with VTCT into a series window. Series windows will be available in:

  • January
  • March/April
  • June
  • October

Learners must be entered or scheduled for their exam before the final date for entries as published by VTCT. These will be communicated in the TLQ key dates document.

Results are made available six-nine weeks after each examination window.

Qualification date
Until 31 Dec 2019 (current end date for all qualifications)
Qualification dates notes

 All qualifications are current.

Reporting and certification information

The results of these VTCT Tech level qualifications are not reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL). This does not reflect the validity of the qualification. HE providers will need to ask applicants to provide their own evidence of achievement.

View the results available through ABL.

First results will be sent to UCAS in September 2018. Certification information is also submitted to Ofqual.

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.

Details of progression opportunities can be found by searching individual qualification details on the VTCT website at: www.vtct.org.uk/find-a-centre/.

Further information

View DfE’s technical guidance

Full specifications for each qualification can be found by searching qualification details on the VTCT website.