- Assessment and Accreditation Services
- The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)
The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)
The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) is a new way of recognizing achievement. It provides a flexible route to gaining full qualification and enables progression to be achieved in smaller steps through the accumulation of credit.
What does this mean for vocational education?
- All vocational qualifications will fall under one set of regulations and arrangements.
- There will be greater commonality through shared units and a standard unit template.
- New standardized titles will make it easier to understand and compare units and qualifications.
- It will provide the opportunity for more flexible routes to full qualifications, achieved in smaller steps through the accumulation of credit.
- Progression is supported by the chance for units to be used across qualifications of different levels, sizes (Award, Certificate and Diploma) and sometimes sector areas. This will help to reduce repetition of learning and assessment.
- A centralized database will help to track the achievement of credit and will provide learners with an online record of their success. This will allow the transfer of credit across providers and awarding organisations - managed through unique learner numbers.
QCF units and qualifications
- Credit is awarded for completion of a unit (the smallest component of a qualification), with credits combined to make qualifications. The rules of combination then state the credits that can be combined to complete a qualification.
- All units use the same unit template, consisting of learning outcomes (what a learner needs to know, understand or do) and assessment criteria (which specify if the learner has met the outcomes to a defined level).
- Each unit is assigned a level which indicates demand, depth of learning and learner autonomy. Levels range from 'Entry' (the lowest) to Level 8 (the highest).
- A unit has a credit value assigned for outcomes of achievement. One credit is equal to 10 hours of notional learning time, where 'learning time' is calculated by working out how long it would take the average learner to complete all the learning outcomes of that unit.
- The majority of units in the QCF will be 'shared'. 'Sharing' means the unit template can be used by another awarding organisation. Awarding organisations then assign their own 'flavour' to the template (in terms of assessment and customer support etc).
Rules of combination for qualifications
Under the QCF framework, qualifications will be made up of a combination of mandatory and optional units. The credit and units required to complete a qualification are set out by the rules of combination. These 'rules' are agreed by the awarding organisation - in close consultation with Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and other relevant organisations. The relevant SSC/SSB in conjunction with the regulator Ofqual will approve any qualification accredited on to the QCF.
Accumulation and transfer of credit
Credit will give units greater 'currency' allowing easier accumulation and transfer of achievement, between both qualifications and AOs reducing the repetition of learning and assessment. It will also give some units greater standalone value and help with rationalization of many similar units.
Each qualification is assigned a unique title which will indicate:
- the level (difficulty)
- size (Award, Certificate or Diploma)
- subject content
- and sometimes terminology to indicate the qualification purpose (e.g. NVQ).
This naming system is intended to make qualifications more readily understandable to learners and employers. This system will make it easier to understand in terms of:
- the content covered
- how much learning time was involved
- the level of complexity
The level indicates the complexity (challenge) of a qualification, which ranges from Entry to Level 8. To gauge the complexity of levels within the QCF: GCSEs grades A - C are equivalent to level 2; GCE A-levels are level 3; and a PhD is the maximum Level 8. Depending on the rules of combination, QCF qualifications can be made up of units from different levels, and the level of the majority then determines the level of the qualification.
Award, Certificate or Diploma
The combined size of all the credit value required to complete a qualification (through completion of units) will then dictate the use of expression for size of 'Award', 'Certificate', or 'Diploma'. A QCF Diploma is not the same as the new 14-19 Diplomas.
- Award = 1-12 credits
- Certificate = 13-36 credits
- Diploma = 37 credits or more.
The size of a 'full' level 2 (equivalent to 5 good GCSEs) will be decided by the relevant SSC who will decide what is required for the qualifications in that industry area. QCA have indicated that there must be a minimum of 13 credits (Certificate).
Please note: The use of the expressions 'Award', 'Certificate' and 'Diploma' has no bearing on the complexity/challenge of a qualification; it simply indicates the size (volume of learning).
Examples of vocational qualifications at different levels for the Children's Workforce would be:
- Safeguarding children and young people
- Work with Children (Early Years/Play work)
- Early Years and Child Care for Play workers
- Early Years Foundation Stage Practice
- Work with Parents
- Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
- Children and young people's services
- Youth work and supporting youth work
- Working with substance misuse
- Working with participants with disabilities in sports and active leisure
- Youth Justice Services
- Community Justice: Work with Offending Behaviour
- Community Development Work
- Community Justice: Work with Victims, Survivors and Witnesses
- Mental Health Work
- Working with People who have Learning Disabilities
- Support Work in Schools
- Health and Social Care: children and young people
- Children's learning care and development
- Specialist leader in school attendance and behaviour management