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Call for Evidence Launched on Qualification Fee Information
July 25, 2018
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Ofqual has launched a call for evidence focused on the availability of information about qualification fees in the regulated market. 

Schools and colleges need to ensure value for money including cost-effective purchasing of their qualifications.

Regulated awarding organisations must comply with Ofqual’s rules on making fee information available. These rules currently give awarding organisations significant flexibility, with different organisations making their fee information available in different ways.

If purchasers of qualifications have difficulty making informed choices, this may reduce the incentives for awarding organisations to deliver efficiencies and other changes that will improve value for money.

We want to understand whether the different approaches to making fee information available mean that schools, colleges and other potential purchasers have difficulty comparing qualifications and choosing between providers.

Read more

New GCSEs Gradings: A Guide for Employers, Parents & Pupils
May 24, 2018
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GCSEs in England are changing. From 2017, some exams will be graded from 9 – 1, rather than A* – G. If you’re a parent or pupil, an employer, or work in education, find out how you will be affected

From August 2017, the new qualifications began being awarded with number grades, rather than letters. The new grading scale runs from 9 to 1 instead of A* to G, with 9 the highest grade.

Not all GCSEs are changing at once – English language, English literature and maths were the first to change, with students sitting these exams in the summer of 2017. You can find the list of subjects in which students will be sitting reformed GCSEs in 2018 in these factsheets.

By 2020, all GCSEs in England will be graded using numbers instead of letters. However, most GCSEs taken by students in Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to be graded A* to G. In conjunction with the other regulators, Ofqual, the qualifications regulator in England, has produced guidance which helps explain the differences and similarities between GCSE qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The new scale will recognise more clearly the achievements of high-attaining students, as the additional grades allow for greater differentiation.

Changing from letters to numbers will also allow anyone – for example an employer – to see easily whether a student has taken a new, more challenging GCSE, or an old reformed GCSE. Read more

Lead Employability Practitioner Standard Gets Go Ahead
April 24, 2018
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The IEP is pleased to announce that due to the hard work and tenacity of the Employability Trailblazer Employer Group (ETEG) they have now secured the approval to go ahead and develop the Level 4 Lead Employability Practitioner Apprenticeship standard.

The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) has published the status of the Standard as “In development” on their website, a link to which you can view here 

The journey to this point began in March 2017 and is a culmination of a great amount of discussion debate and collaboration with colleagues in the ETEG. At the heart of the discussion has been a collective passion to develop a standard that is meaningful and that fits the changing landscape of the employability profession in light of the Work and Health Programme and the future needs of a new type of
Employability Practitioner.

Read more

Ofqual Looking for External Experts

Are you looking for a new challenge? 

Ofqual is looking for people to join them as external experts to help their work on qualifications and assessments for GCSEs, A levels, a wide range of vocational and technical qualifications and new apprenticeship end-point assessments.

External experts are invaluable to the work they do to ensure the qualifications they regulate are fit for purpose – making sure they assess the right things, in a consistent way, and can be trusted.

The following is their GOV.UK advert.

Who can be an external expert?

We are looking for people from a wide range of different backgrounds.

You might:

  • be a teacher, practitioner, assessor, examiner or an academic
  • have extensive skills and experience in a particular industry

Please read our Person specification and eligibility criteria – external experts (PDF562KB7 pagesfor full details of the role. Read more

New Chief Executive of FAB (Federation of Awarding Bodies)
April 3, 2018
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The Federation of Awarding Bodies has announced skills and enterprise policy expert Tom Bewick as its new chief executive 

Mr Bewick (pictured above speaking at FE Week’s Annual Apprenticeships Conference last week) will take up the helm from May 1, replacing John McNamara, who has led FAB on an interim basis since the departure of Stephen Wright in December.

Mr Bewick is co-founder and board director of Franklin Apprenticeships in the US, and founded the Transatlantic Apprenticeship Exchange Forum in 2015 to promote opportunities for UK training providers in the US.

He led the International Skills Standards Organisation Ltd for four years, from 2011 to 2015, and prior to that was chief executive of Enterprise UK, a former government quango, from 2010 to 2011.

Other government roles include adviser to the minister for adult skills in the early 2000s.

He has also been a council member for Brighton and Hove City Council since May 2015

 

Vocational and Other Qualifications Quarterly: October to December 2017
March 13, 2018
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The Department for Education has released statistics on vocational and other qualifications, excluding GCSEs, AS levels, A levels and the Diploma.

In quarter four 2017 one million certificates were awarded, a decrease of 1.6% from the same quarter in 2016. This can partly be explained by a reduction in the number of certificates in QCF and functional skills.

Main Trends:

  1. Nearly 1 million certificates were awarded in 2017 Q4, a decrease of 1.6% on the same quarter of 2016.
  2. The decline is mostly due to a decrease in the number of certificates in QCF and functional skills. This decrease has been offset by the large increase in the number of certificates in vocationally-related qualifications and occupational qualifications.
  3. The general decline in the number of certificates may be caused by a tightening in the availability of funding. This is notable at level 2 qualifications. Some of this decline has been offset by the large increase in the number of certificates in level 3 qualifications. This change could be driven by changes in the performance tables as Applied General qualifications (Level 3) grow in popularity.
  4. The decline in the number of certificates in functional skills is likely due to the changes in funding rules by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and revised guidance from the Department for Education that post-16 students who have a grade D or grade 3 in English or maths must now be entered for GCSE resits rather than Functional Skills. In addition, colleges are also incentivised to enter students with grade E for GCSE as they gain more credit for distance travelled by improving a GCSE grade than for functional skills attainment. Read more
Annual Qualifications Market Report
February 22, 2018
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Ofqual has published an overview of the qualifications market. It contains a range of information about the current state of the market together with some interesting statistics.

  • 12.4 million certificates were awarded in GCSE, AS, A level and vocational and other qualifications available for award in England over the academic year 2016 to 2017 (October 2016 to September 2017).
  • The organisations with the largest market shares in these qualifications were AQA (27%), Pearson (23%), OCR (10%) and City and Guilds (7%); the rest of the awarding organisations accounted for 33% market share.
  • The overall number of certificates fell by nearly 8% compared to the previous year, continuing the trend seen over several years.
  • AS levels had the biggest percentage drop in the number of certificates (down by 43% compared to academic year 2015 to 2016).
  • 6.1 million certificates were awarded in vocational and other qualifications, a drop of 10% compared to the previous year.
  • 10% of the vocational and other qualifications certificates were in technical qualifications.
  • 4% of the vocational and other qualifications certificates were in Applied General Qualifications.
  • 23.7K qualifications were available in academic year 2016 to 2017, a 2% decrease on the previous year.

Read more

End-Point Assessment
January 25, 2018
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Ofqual has updated their information about the status of apprenticeship end-point assessments (EPAs) where Ofqual has been asked to provide external quality assurance.

View Updated Guidance Here

Revised Arrangements for GCSE Computer Science
January 9, 2018
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Ofqual Press Release.

Ofqual has today (8th Jan 2018) announced that non-exam assessment will not count to the final 9 to 1 grade in GCSE computer science in 2018 or 2019. It is, however, still an important part of the course and contributes to student learning and progress, so all schools must continue to give students the opportunity within the timetable to complete the tasks.

We made the decision after analysing more than 2,500 responses to our consultation, which was launched given evidence that some of this year’s tasks had been posted to online forums and collaborative programming sites, contrary to exam board rules. It is not possible to identify which students have accessed or used this information.

Read more

Malpractice for GCSEs, AS and A levels: 2017
January 5, 2018
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Official statistics for malpractice in GCSE, AS and A level exams in summer 2017.

The main trends were:

  1. 2,715 penalties were issued to students in 2017, up from 2,180 compared to 2016 and representing 0.015% of entries (compared to 0.011% in 2016).
  2. Having access to a mobile phone was main reason for student penalties.
  3. 895 penalties were issued to staff, up from 360 in 2016. This still involves a very small proportion of the total number of staff in England (350K FTE staff).
  4. Exam boards are more likely to issue formal written warnings for similar offences rather than informal advisory notes this year.
  5. 120 penalties were issued to schools or colleges, down from 155 in 2016.
  6. The actual number of penalties issued to schools or colleges is small given the overall number of centres (over 5,000).

Read more HERE

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