Learners could have qualifications revoked

Past learners with a Warwickshire-based provider could have their qualifications taken away from them following a probe into allegations of malpractice.

Leading awarding organisation NCFE (formerly the Northern Council for Further Education) announced last month it had stopped certificating Bright Assessing course following its investigation.

The suspension will remain in place until the outcome of Bright’s appeal against NCFE’s decision to withdraw its center approval status, when HABC will consider its position further.”

The findings have not been made public, but a Bright spokesperson said it “vigorously disputes both the findings and the sanction” and that it would appeal.

And now NCFE has confirmed doubts over the validity of qualifications it.

has awarded for Bright’s level three certificate in assessing vocational achievement.

An NCFE spokesperson said: “Based on the findings of the investigation, there is the potential that we may contact learners regarding the validity of their certificates and we will be looking at this as part of our review of our duty of care.

“We are currently working through learners on a case by case basis and will be in touch directly with anyone that we’re concerned about.”

She could not say how many past learners might be affected.

It is thought the only awarding organisation currently certificating Bright is OCR, where a spokesperson said: “We are aware of the ongoing NCFE investigation and we are now in the process of carrying out our own checks.”

He added that OCR would continue certificating six Bright courses, including level three and four certificates in teaching in the lifelong learning sector, while checks continued.

The Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (HABC) was also listed on Bright’s website as a certificating body until the end of February, but its name has now been removed.

A spokesperson for HABC said: “In order to protect the interests of learners and in accordance with our internal policies and procedures, I confirm that Bright were immediately suspended from running any courses through HABC upon receipt of the notification of the investigation being carried out by NCFE.

“The suspension will remain in place until the outcome of Bright’s appeal against NCFE’s decision to withdraw its centre approval status, when HABC will consider its position further.”

Bright was listed on the Skills Funding Agency’s website on January 28 this year as a subcontractor for Avant Partnership, through a contract worth £171,999, and The Derbyshire Network, through a £50,000 contract.

A spokesperson for Avant Partnership said: “I can confirm that we did hold a contract with Bright. This contract reached its natural timely conclusion in February. At this point there were only six learners remaining, all of which had completed and are due to be externally verified by their awarding body (OCR).

“As this contract has concluded and there are not any further learners going forward, we do not consider that there are any actions we are required to take at this time.”

The Derbyshire Network declined to comment.

The SFA said it would not be intervening, despite new guidance saying it could stop prime contractors from working with subcontractors if there were “significant irregularities” in the awarding of qualifications.

Bright declined to comment on whether its past learners could lose their qualifications.