There have been some really important changes in the way Ofqual works to regulate qualifications in the last few days and these will have an impact on employers and also on possible funding sources for training for their staff. We have tried to outline them below and put them into an employer’s perspective to help CE Members.
Ofqual was established by the Government to Regulate Qualification Development and Delivery for most of the UK. Over the years this has changed and now it only functions in England, whilst providing support for Northern Ireland; with Scotland having had its own regulatory body for several years and Wales went stand alone last month. Whilst they try to work collaboratively this doesn’t happen very well and it is now possible to have qualifications that are England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland specific – so a UK wide construction company can face the potential of 4 different qualifications in the same subject or skill area within their workforce. Or put another way – a subcontractor can train their staff to a known qualification standard in one part of the UK to find it is not recognised by a main contractor based in another!
At its set up Ofqual was charged with regulating both Academic and Vocational qualifications. It did this by setting up the Qualifications and Credits Framework (QCF) for Vocational Qualifications – all CELL’s current qualifications were established within this framework. As of 1st October the QCF has been disbanded and ALL qualifications (Academic and Vocational or Skills based) will now come under the NQF (National Qualifications Framework. Shouldn’t really affect employers too much but as part of the changes the measurement of time involved in achieving a qualification has been radically changed and this impacts on funding streams for training towards qualifications.
Under the old way of working a qualification had a measure of Guided Learning Hours (GLH) – the time a learner was expected to spend with a tutor (so not studying on line or at home). The GLH value was divided by 10 to produce the Credit count for that qualification or module.
As of now a new set of times are being applied:
Total Qualification Time (TQT): The total time a learner could be expected to put in to achieve the qualification. This is the sum of:
Guided Learning Time (GL): The number of hours which an awarding organisation has assigned to a qualification for Guided Learning, and
An estimate of the number of hours a Learner will reasonably be likely to spend in preparation, study or any other form of participation in education or training, including assessment, which takes place as directed by – but, unlike Guided Learning, not under the Immediate Guidance or Supervision of – a lecturer, supervisor, tutor or other appropriate provider of education or training.
During their consultation programme Ofqual had been very clear that TQT would be the sum of three elements – Directed Study, Guided Learning and Assessment and many of the Funding Bodies were gearing up to offer funding based on Assessment time. This last minute change by Ofqual appears to have caught the Funding Bodies by surprise and we gather that they have effectively “closed their doors” to new funding bids while they sort out how they will now gauge funding streams.
All in all quite a mess and not helpful for either Awarding Organisations, like CELL, that had been working towards the proposed and consulted upon changes, or employers who need to know what qualifications they can gain funding for and place their staff on to progress their skills development.
If anyone would like to discuss the above and its implications for their company, or if groups would like a brief presentation on the current state of play please contact:
Keith J Sammonds
Constructing Excellence in Learning Ltd