Reforms to 16-19 performance tables in England
On 4 July 2013, the government published its response to the consultation on future requirements for Level 3 vocational qualifications if they are to be recognised in the 16-19 performance tables from 2016 onwards.
Key headlines from the consultation response
1. In future, Level 3 qualifications will be recognised in the 16-19 performance tables under 3 categories:
‘Academic Qualifications’, such as A/AS levels, International Baccalaureate, Pre-U and so on.
‘Technical Level Qualifications’, which are vocational qualifications for students wishing to specialise their studies around a specific occupation (for example, Laboratory Technician) or occupational area (for example, Science, Engineering and Production Technicians).
‘Applied General Qualifications’, which are vocational qualifications for students who wish to continue their general education through applied learning and then progress to further learning, probably at university.
2. Only vocational qualifications approved by the Department for Education (DfE) as meeting specified criteria (such as size, assessment methodology, grading) will be classified as Technical Level or Applied General Qualifications, and therefore recognised in the performance tables.
3. The first list of ‘approved’ qualifications will be published in November 2013; subsequent lists will be published annually. The list will define which qualifications count in the first reformed 16-19 performance tables, to be published in 2016. These tables report on two-year programmes that begin in September 2014. N.B. One-year and two-year programmes starting from September 2013 are unaffected by the announcement.
4. The reforms only affect the way the Level 3 qualifications are recognised in the English performance tables from 2016 onwards. The government has advised providers against making immediate curriculum changes.
5. The consultation response also reported on next steps for Early Years Level 3 qualifications, following the Nutbrown Review. Later this month, the final Early Years Educator (EYE) criteria will be published. From September 2014, ‘full and relevant’ qualifications will need to conform to these criteria. New qualifications for first teaching from September 2014, if accredited by spring 2014, will be considered for inclusion in the 2016 performance tables. The DfE will be publishing a list of such qualifications.
This announcement is just one part of a wider series of interrelated reforms to 16-19 education. These include the Study Programmes – which set rules around ‘significant qualifications’ that dovetail with the performance tables criteria – and the Technical Baccalaureate, in which the ‘Technical Level’ qualifications will feature.
The government has advised that further announcements about the 16-19 accountability measures and the status of Level 2 qualifications in the 16-19 tables will be coming soon.
16-19 performance tables and BTEC Nationals
Firstly, it’s very important to say that these reforms do not affect the recognition of 1- and 2-year programmes starting in September 2013. The government has advised providers to exercise caution in making curriculum changes in the immediate wake of this consultation response.
Many of you know we are currently in the process of redeveloping our BTEC National qualifications. We were very happy to see that this announcement reinforces many of the principles we are already building into the new qualifications. We’ll keep you posted as this work continues.
We’ve prepared some FAQs to help you understand the potential outcome of the response and how it may affect BTEC and Edexcel qualifications.
Rod Bristow, Pearson UK President, spoke about BTECs in light of the consultation response:
“BTECs have always sought to assess knowledge and its application in challenging and engaging ways, and they have gained significant recognition with higher education and employers as a result.
"We are confident that the majority of our Level 3 BTECs will meet the new interim requirements for both the Tech Level and General Applied routes, and are already working with an international panel of experts to develop a Next Generation of demanding, world class BTEC qualifications which will meet the new standards as they are introduced."