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New Qualifications Framework

16th December 2015


A new qualifications framework

This Summer saw some important regulatory changes to qualifications.

The General Conditions of Recognitions direct Awarding Organisations (AOs) such as the CIM Awarding Body on conditions required for compliance and continued recognition. The conditions cover the design, development and delivery of qualifications by providing a quality framework that must be met and followed to ensure qualifications are fit for purpose, are of genuine benefit to learners and are accepted for Ofqual initial and ongoing recognition.

As with any changes, there will be new terms and conditions, but most of the changes are likely to have a greater impact on the CIM Awarding Body and not ASC’s. However, it is possible that Centres may also be affected in some cases, so we will keep you informed as we take these changes forward. While there may be some change in terminology used, for the most part there will be little or no change in the qualifications you can offer, or your relationship with the CIM. To give you some insight into what is happening, we have provided a summary of the changes below.

A new Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Removal of QCF. This won’t affect us or you as CIM did not have any QCF qualifications on the Register of Qualifications. The removal of the QCF was due in part due to the prescriptive nature of it which set out what qualifications must look like to be recognised. It was felt that this was very restrictive and did not promote flexible learning.

However our NQF qualifications will be reviewed, new conditions were added regarding the titling, specifications and guided learning hours in line with new regulatory conditions. The replacement qualification will be known as the RQF and which will begin to be implemented from summer 2015. Among its many intentions, Ofqual believes the RQF will give it an advantage – flexibility and transparency for employers and learners.

Rather than set out guidelines on how AOs should design qualifications in order to be recognised, the RQF will simply describe in more detail the qualifications that are available. To do this the CIM will need to provide information about the content of each qualification and its components, the learning hours required to complete them, how a qualification relates to other similar ones at the same level, and the progression routes between them. Each qualification will be required to have a level and size, although qualifications that already have an appropriate level will not have to change they will still require a period of review to ensure that they are still appropriately levelled and sized.

There is now a new set of level descriptors – divided into knowledge and skills categories only and these range from Entry 1 to Level 8 and these will still align with the European Qualification Framework (EQF), making international comparisons easier. There is new guidance for titling conventions concerning the use of particular terms in titles, the removal of the term ‘QCF’ from the title of qualifications, and the use of the term NVQ where a qualification is based on agreed occupational standards, confers occupational competence and requires work-based and/or simulated assessment.

There will also be a greater emphasis on prior learning, making it simpler for this to be taken into account when a learner starts a new qualification, which will reduce repetition of learning and therefore ultimately improve efficiency of learning. Additionally and probably the greatest change is in how the size of qualifications will be measured. Ofqual state “all qualifications will have a size, expressed in terms of total qualification time (TQT) and where appropriate guided learning hours (GLH)”.

Impact on ASC’s: As mentioned, the main change is likely to be on us at CIM Awarding Body regarding the way we develop and assess our qualifications, but these changes will promote a greater freedom to design assessments that more accurately reflect the skills and knowledge that the sector employers need as well as provide qualification specifications that are clear, accessible and transparent.

In the coming months we will review our qualifications and keep you informed of any changes that we have made. Specifications will be republished when the changes have been made so use of the correct version is essential, however we will alert you to this as and when necessary. We wish to thank you for your support in advance of these changes and feel that they are positive moves towards a clearer qualifications market.

Samantha Taylor Interim Head of Awarding Body