Qualifications cull could kill off awarding bodies

TES are reporting that efforts to simplify post-16 technical education by removing 20,000 qualifications could lead to dozens of awarding bodies going out of business, experts have warned.

Currently, about 160 awarding organisations offer qualifications that are described in the Sainsbury review, released alongside the Skills Plan, as delivering “similar but different outcomes”. The report, which has been approved by the government, calls for a licensing approach, with a single body or consortium being approved to offer the sole version of each qualification.

Sally Collier, Ofqual’s chief regulator, said that awarding organisations affected by the changes would be contacted by the end of this month “to explain how we intend to achieve this significant reduction” ahead of procurement for the new qualifications beginning in 2018.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said that switching to a single awarding body for each route would “dramatically impact” on organisations that were offering overlapping qualifications.

“There’s going to be a big impact for a number of large awarding bodies,” Mr Dawe said. “You’re going to have a bidding process, and even then there could be national colleges and sector bodies bidding, rather than just awarding bodies. So it certainly throws everything in the air and it could have a massive impact on vocational qualification providers.”

The majority of the Federation of Awarding Bodies’ 130 members would be affected by the changes, according to chief executive Stephen Wright.

“It particularly damages niche and specialist awarding bodies,” he said. “Quite often they’re the trade associations and the professional associations – [organisations] that you would imagine the government would be most keen to have involved in the provision of qualifications, as they are run by employers.”

More at: Qualifications cull could kill off awarding bodies

Do you think simplifying post-16 technical education in this way will have a positive or negative impact on students? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Nellie

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