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Our qualifications history

The story of Pearson becoming the UK's largest awarding organisation didn’t start with the formation of Edexcel in 1996. It began as long ago as 1836, when a royal charter gave the University of London its first powers to conduct exams and confer degrees on its students.

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Pearson makes public commitment to efficacy

In November 2013, Pearson announced a series of unique commitments designed to measure and increase the company’s impact on learning outcomes around the world.

Pearson creates new global structure

In May 2013, Pearson unveiled a new structure combining its separate education companies, Pearson International and Pearson North America into one Pearson company organised around three global lines of business – School, Higher Education and Professional.  


Pearson acquires EDI

In June 2011, Pearson acquired EDI, a leading provider of work-based learning qualifications for industry and commerce in the UK and internationally, adding the LCCI and EDI brands to the Pearson qualifications family.

Pearson creates Pearson College

In July 2011 Pearson announced the creation of Pearson College, a degree provider based in London and Manchester.


Pearson acquires Edexcel

Pearson acquired a 75% stake in Edexcel, before taking over the remaining 25% in 2005.


Edexcel formed

Edexcel was formed by the merger of the Business & Technology Education Council (BTEC) and London Examinations (ULEAC), which administered GCSEs and A levels. London Examinations’ heritage stretched back, through several mergers of examinations boards, to the University of London Extension Board founded in 1902.


Two-tier system of O levels and CSEs replaced with GCSEs in the UK

This change led to new regional consortia being formed for GCSEs, as CSEs and O levels had previously been administered by different exam boards. 


Business Education Council (BEC) created

The Business Education Council (BEC) was established to rationalise and improve the relevance of sub-degree vocational education in FE and HE colleges and in polytechnics.
Within 18 months, BEC took over responsibility for ONCs, ONDs, HNCs and HNDs. 


Technician Education Council (TEC) created

The Technician Education Council (TEC) was created to unify technical (vocational) education. TEC eventually took over the validation of courses in further and higher education.
These courses led to Ordinary National Diplomas (ONDs) and Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNC/Ds), which were previously the responsibility of professional bodies. 


Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) introduced

The Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) was introduced in 1965 when the UK government realised that large numbers of students were leaving school without any qualifications.

Aimed at the 80% of 16-year-old students who were not studying O levels, CSEs were administered on a local basis with local boards that had been detached from universities.  


General Certificate of Education (GCE) replaces the School Certificate and Higher School Certificate.

The new GCE qualification was split into two levels: ordinary (O levels) and advanced (A levels).


School Certificate and Higher School Certificate introduced

The first national qualifications for England, Wales and Northern Ireland were introduced. The School Certificate was taken at 16 and the Higher School Certificate at 18. Exam boards had previously offered their own qualifications.


First University of London school examinations

The University of London Extension Board was founded in 1902 and the first University of London school examinations were sat in 1905. 


Royal charter gives the University of London limited powers to conduct exams and confer degrees on its students.


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