Ofqual and the Institute are united across their distinctive roles

2 Sep 2021, 17:27

There is no benefit to anyone if our quality roles compete, write Simon Lebus and Jennifer Coupland

Ofqual and the Institute are united in pursuit of our common goal.

Both our organisations wish to ensure all apprenticeships and technical qualifications deliver world-class results for employers and learners.

Employer-led reforms have already benefitted apprenticeships and T Levels, and that will continue. Employers understand best what training is needed to fill the nation’s skills gaps and set learners off on successful career paths.

That’s why employer-designed occupational standards will soon guide what is taught across technical education.

How Ofqual and the Institute will work together

Meanwhile the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill reaffirms distinct but mutually supportive roles for both our organisations.

Put simply, the Institute, which is guided by insights from thousands of employers, will lead on approving a wider range of technical education qualifications.

Ofqual will continue to regulate the awarding organisations that develop and offer qualifications, including maintaining the high bar that an organisation must meet to operate as an awarding organisation.

And the Office for Students (OfS) will continue regulating Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as they develop and offer Higher Technical Qualifications.

We and our teams are all clear on this. We have no desire to, or intention of, over-complicating things.

There is no benefit to anyone – learner, employer or awarding body – if our quality roles compete, or our processes create unnecessary administration.

We have already demonstrated, through apprenticeships, T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications that Ofqual’s and the Institute’s respective areas of experience and expertise complement each other well.

What’s happening with T Levels?

The process for T Levels, which were successfully launched last September and will continue to be rolled out up to 2023, works as follows.

Industry experts identify what knowledge, skills and behaviours need to be taught before awarding organisations develop the qualifications in full.

The Institute, with its panels of employer experts, then ensures the qualifications assess the skills which the economy needs.

In parallel, Ofqual reviews the quality of assessment materials and the processes that sit around these, such as ensuring accuracy of marking.

Both organisations are working together to ensure these exciting new qualifications are a huge success.

And what about Higher Technical Qualifications?

The Institute and Ofqual also continue to work closely on Higher Technical Qualifications.

Here, the Institute consults with Ofqual before granting this new employer-led quality mark to Ofqual-regulated qualifications.

The first digital Higher Technical Qualifications were approved in June. Awarding organisations can now submit applications for the second approvals window, which closes on 17 September.

This covers the health and science and construction sectors, as well as digital.  We look forward to receiving applications from those taking this opportunity.

Looking a little ahead, we have the development of technical qualifications at level three on the horizon. Our collaboration will continue to be vital here too.

‘A first-rate partnership’

Developing technical qualifications requires the expertise of awarding organisations. That is, and will remain, a critical contribution they bring to technical education.

The Institute will approve technical qualifications at level 3, looking at their alignment with the employer-led occupational standards.

Ofqual will analyse the qualifications’ assessments, advising on aspects such as validity, as part of the approvals process.

Both our organisations bring strengths and expertise to technical education

The Bill, which will progress through parliament over the coming months, also proposes that the Institute should conduct regular reviews of the quality and suitability of approved technical qualifications.

This would be done with the support of Ofqual and build from the Institute’s existing review processes for apprenticeships.

All of this will be achieved through continued and first-rate partnership.

Both our organisations bring strengths and expertise to technical education. We will continue to support each other to deliver the unified, high-quality and employer-led system that our nation needs.

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