Up front accreditation of quals to end next month, Ofqual boss reveals

The requirement for qualifications to be accredited by Ofqual before they are regulated will be lifted from next month, the qualifications watchdog chief has announced.

Glenys Stacey, Ofqual chief executive, told the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) national conference in Leicester this morning that plans to remove accreditation requirement from all qualifications except GCSEs and A-levels would come into effect on November 3.

She said Ofqual was changing the way it worked, and removing barriers which “distract from validity”. It comes after the FAB raised concerns about the detail in the plans earlier this year.

She said: “Some of you will know that we are reviewing the rules and regulations to make sure they have validity at their heart, and where they don’t, and where they might encourage a tick-box approach to assessment, where they might indeed distract from validity, we will remove them.

“I can announce today that from November 3 this year, we will no longer require qualifications to be accredited before they become regulated. We will allow awarding organisations to put qualifications straight onto our register.

“Why? Because we have found that accreditation itself, a check at the start of the qualification is not an effective way of securing a valid qualification as it runs. It’s easy to assume at the moment that an accreditation process provides a vital seal of approval for a qualification but it does not.”

She said the accreditation requirement was being lifted “not without some degree of trepidation” and that it would still apply in some situations.

She added: “We will retain accreditation for A-levels and GCSEs, not because we think they are somehow more important, we don’t. It’s because of their particular nature and purpose. We regulate those qualifications using detailed and specific criteria and we expect very close comparability in the same subjects from different boards and organisations, so we will keep it for GCSEs and A-levels.

“We may well re-impose the accreditation requirement in certain other circumstances, on any qualification or awarding body as a sanction, for example, or where we’re not sure about an awarding organisation it might suit.”

She said she would be writing to awarding organisations to give more information.