The latest consultation from Ofqual proposes a new approach to regulating the technical award qualifications listed on Department for Education school and college performance tables.
The consultation focuses on the regulation of technical awards offered to 14 to 16 year olds. Taken by 35% of key stage 4 students alongside GCSEs, technical awards are Level 1 and 2 non-GCSE performance table qualifications that are designed to provide students with applied knowledge and practical skills of a sector or occupational group.
The consultation proposes that awarding organisations (AOs) will submit technical awards for review under the new regulatory criteria by spring 2020 alongside an assessment strategy for each qualification setting out the AO’s approach to the design, delivery and awarding of the qualifications.
It is proposed that technical awards should be broadly similar in size to GCSEs with at least 120 hours guided learning and significantly, that 40% of the total marks are through an ‘assessment by examination’ which should be in the form of a written test or tests, made available on two sets of dates each academic year. The consultation further proposes that students will be required to take the 'assessment by examination' in the series immediately prior to certificating for the qualification (a terminal rule), when, with all assessments completed, the centre would ‘claim’ for a student to receive their qualification at the end of their course.
Ofqual recognises that on the occasions where an alternative assessment method is more appropriate, AOs can apply for an exemption to assessing by a written test.
All submissions by AOs will be reviewed by Ofqual and the DfE against their requirements, with the final decision on inclusion in performance tables resting with the Secretary of State.
The intention is that the proposed rules will apply to technical awards to be taught from September 2021 and therefore listed in the 2023 key stage 4 performance tables.