Bethan Foulkes, Science Subject Advisor
Following the publication of an article in Education in Chemistry last month about Alternative Academic Qualifications (AAQs), teachers have been asking what this means for centres currently teaching our Cambridge Technical Level 3 Applied Science. In this blog I explain more about this reform and answer questions about our new Cambridge Advanced Nationals in Applied Science and Human Biology.
Following its review of post-16 qualifications and below, the Department for Education (DfE) confirmed its aim of developing a new streamlined qualifications system for students aged 16 and over. To enable this, post-16 level 3 vocational qualifications in England are currently undergoing major reform. This will affect all awarding organisations.
For science qualifications in cycle 1, new qualifications will begin teaching in September 2025. This means the last cohort of Cambridge Technical Level 3 Applied Science students will start year 12 in September 2024. More details on the timeline of changes can be found in our quick reference guide.
Some Cambridge Technical qualifications that are too similar to A Levels or T Levels will be completely defunded from September 2025 onwards, apart from the Level 3 Cambridge Technical (2016) Diploma in IT (720 GLH) and the Level 3 Cambridge Technical (2016) Extended Diploma in IT (1080 GLH), which are to be defunded in July 2024. Others, like Applied Science and Engineering, are subjects where small AAQs (360 GLH or one A Level size) will be considered for funding.
The expectation from the DfE is that students will select T Levels, A Levels, or 2 A Levels and 1 AAQ. They do not expect students to be able to study more than one AAQ, but this is still being reviewed.
Therefore, students who would have traditionally studied one large vocational qualification, one A Level and two small vocational qualifications, or three vocational qualifications will need to consider a different combination of qualifications as outlined by the DfE.
If there were to be a change to existing policies, for example, due to a change of government, this reform may be reviewed which could lead to a continuation of funding for current Level 3 qualifications.
We have developed two new Cambridge Advanced Nationals (the new name for the new suite of AAQs from OCR) in Applied Science and Human Biology. Draft specifications and Sample Assessment Materials are already available for you to view. More materials will be added to the new qualification pages in due course. Please do leave feedback for the qualifications by taking the survey.
There will be new textbooks, teaching materials, delivery guides, practical guides, mathematical handbooks and more. The best specification content from the Cambridge Technical Applied Science has been retained, and you will see a wonderful range of optional units that we think (and have heard) teachers and students will find engaging and complementary to an A Level programme of study.
Check out our mapping guides for Applied Science and Human Biology which explain how the new qualification units map to the Cambridge Technicals that you may be familiar with.
We are expecting to hear from the DfE and Ofqual that these qualifications have been accepted by spring 2024. In the meantime, we are working on getting resources ready for you. Once we get confirmation that the specifications and assessment materials have been accepted, we will provide resources for teachers via Teach Cambridge as soon as possible.
Make sure you and your staff are signed up for updates. You could also follow us on LinkedIn and X/(formerly Twitter).
Attend our FREE webinars where our subject advisors will talk about the content of the new qualifications and answer your questions.
For anything else, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch with us. We’re happy to talk to you and your school if you have any concerns or feedback.
Bethan joined OCR in April 2019 and is a subject advisor for GCSE Sciences and Applied Science. Before joining OCR, Bethan taught Biology to 11–18-year-olds for eight years and was responsible for planning her school’s biology schemes of learning. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Bethan mentored PGCE students and NQTs in science, and oversaw all the trainees and NQTs within the school as professional tutor. In her spare time, she enjoys dressmaking, quilting and many other different crafts.