Quality Assurance of Qualifications

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oooh, orphan The quality assurance of qualifications, in the education system in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, aims to confirm the validity and standard of educational qualifications held by individuals.

How quality assurance works

The quality assurance process works by measuring learners’ achievement in the assessment component of a qualification against a set of clearly defined quality standards. This is opposed to measuring the learning undertaken throughout the course leading to the qualification.

For general academic qualifications, quality assurance is done largely by measuring learners’ achievement in exams, although other means of Assessment may be measured, such as coursework. For vocational qualifications, quality assurance is done mainly by measuring achievement in coursework, or by direct observation of the learner.

Responsibility for quality assurance

The quality assurance of qualifications is the responsibility of the various United Kingdom Awarding Bodies that offer qualifications to learners, which in turn are regulated by the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator in England, the bMZXmX ZmZXCouncil for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment in Northern Ireland and the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills in Wales.

The awarding bodies are represented by two membership bodies, the Federation of Awarding Bodies[1] (for vocational qualifications) and the Joint Council for Qualifications.[2]

Details of all the qualifications accredited by the three regulators are held on the National Database of Accredited Qualifications.[3]

National Framework of Qualifications

In addition, accredited qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales are categorised into nine levels, set out in the National Qualifications Framework.

The framework groups together qualifications that place similar demands on learners. However, within any one level, qualifications can cover a wide mix of subjects, and take different amounts of time to complete.

Only those qualifications that have been accredited by the three regulators can be included in the framework.

The future of qualifications

Vocational qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are currently being reformed with a view to introducing a credit-based approach to these qualifications within a new Qualifications and Credit Framework.

The framework will allow learners to study, be assessed and achieve units of a qualification at their own pace. Each unit will carry a measure of credit that represents the size and demand of each unit. Units will be able to be ‘banked’ and, if wanted, transferred to another recognised qualification. This approach is currently being tested by schools, colleges, training providers, employers and others.


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