Six of the country’s biggest awarding bodies have withdrawn from the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB).
City & Guilds, Pearson and AQA were among those to leave FAB in a move that will mean they are now solely represented collectively by the Joint Qualification Council (JCQ).
The JCQ is made up of seven awarding bodies, of which just one — SQA — has decided to stay with FAB, which will continue to serve 120 smaller member organisations.
The remaining three to have left FAB were WJEC, CEA and OCR.
A letter, seen by FE Week, was sent to stakeholders in both groups announcing the change, which will be effective from January 1.
It said: “We have agreed that, in future, it would be preferable for JCQ to represent solely the collective views of its members.”
The move comes just weeks after the Whitehead Review of Vocational Qualifications recommended there should be a cull of qualifications to “de-clutter the market”.
Nigel Whitehead, BAE Systems group managing director, told FE Week at the time that his review could lead to 95 per cent of the 19,000-plus qualifications being cut and he accepted the move could also lead to smaller awarding bodies going under.
Nevertheless, the joint JCQ and FAB letter said the “new relationship” between the bodies would “bring greater clarity to our work and will strengthen our representation of awarding bodies at a time of considerable change and challenge” and that they would be “working more closely and pro-actively together”.
The letter added: “We believe this arrangement will ensure the diverse views and needs of the awarding body community are appropriately represented and communicated effectively to a wide range of stakeholders.”
Jill Lanning, FAB chief executive, said the decision was “absolutely not” connected to the findings of the Whitehead review.
A spokesperson for JCQ declined to comment further.
Paul Eeles, chief executive of FAB member ABC Awards said the move would “in no way, shape or form have a negative impact on our business” and would be “good for awarding organisations”.
Fellow FAB member NCFE and also supported the arrangement.
David Grailey, NCFE chief executive, said: “We… believe that the move will help us have a stronger collective voice in the sector.
“Overall, this as a positive way forward and the changes are in no way related to the Whitehead Review.”
SQA chief executive Janet Brown said the SQA would derive value from both memberships.