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Department for Education (England) consultation on funding of qualifications at Level 2 and below.

A consultation seeking views on plans to reform post-16 qualifications at Level 2 and below (Level 1 and entry levels) launched on 2 March and closes on 27 April at 23.45.

This consultation forms part of the reform of funded qualifications in England. In this context, the foreword from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, states that “the qualifications available for 16 to 19 year olds and adults in future will be different from those available today.”

The consultation expresses a strong intent to reduce the number of qualifications at Level 2 and below available for funding to “simplify” the offer and reduce the range of specialist qualifications available at these levels. The proposals divide qualifications into 17 groups according to the qualification’s primary purpose; these groups are shown in a range of tables within the consultation document which show divisions by level and funding stream (16-19, adult or both).

The DfE’s impact assessment estimates that 72% (c.1,530) of ‘in-scope’ level 2 qualifications for 16 to 19 year olds, 61% (c.1,290) of ‘in-scope’ level 2 qualifications for adults, and 57% (c.640) of ‘in scope’ level 1 and entry qualifications currently available may not fit into the future funded landscape. We have not had confirmation which these qualifications will be. In scope for level 2 funding reform are any qualifications which are not GCSEs, Functional Skills and Essential Digital Skills.

The consultation acknowledges the importance of introducing the reforms at a manageable pace, given the extent of change to the wider qualifications landscape, including at Level 3. The Department expect this process will take place in a phased way from 2024 – 2027, starting with reform to qualifications in the Construction route at Level 2, followed by other Level 2 qualifications and finally, in 2027, Level 1, entry level, ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) and PSE (personal, social and employability) qualifications.

You can access the consultation here. We encourage any centre likely to be impacted by, or interested in, the potential outcomes to consider submitting a response – in any response you can answer as many or as few of the questions as you chose

Ofqual consultation on Level 3 qualifications

On 24 February, the regulator of qualifications in England (Ofqual) launched a consultation on proposals for how it will regulate qualifications at Level 3 that are eligible for public funding.

The consultation describes two categories of qualification:

  • alternative academic: qualifications for progression into further study, with specific design rules including at least 40% assessment by exam. These types of qualification currently include performance tables qualifications (used by schools and colleges in accountability measures).
  • alternative technical: qualifications which will be mapped to employer-led occupational standards to be held by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE). There are likely to be some design rules regarding appropriate methods of assessment relevant to each standard but there’s no further information available on this until the IfATE issues its own consultation later in the year. The consultation asks for views on additional design aspects such as grading scales and whether there should be additional controls on assessment judgments made by centres.

Both alternative academic and alternative technical qualifications will have to meet Ofqual’s proposed requirements as part of seeking approval for public funding.

We are carefully considering the proposals and the implications each proposal is likely to have on our Level 3 offer and on our centres.

You can read a more detailed overview and access the consultation here. We encourage any centre likely to be impacted by, or interested in, the potential outcomes to consider submitting a response – in any response you can answer as many or as few of the questions as you chose. The opportunity to respond ends on 20 April at 23.45.

Consultation on the Lifelong Loan Entitlement (for qualifications at levels 4-6)

Also on 24 February, the Department for Education launched a consultation on the lifelong loan entitlement (LLE).

From 2025, the lifelong loan entitlement will provide individuals with a loan entitlement to the equivalent of 4 years of post-18 education to use over their lifetime. It will be available for both modular and full-time study at higher technical and degree levels (levels 4 to 6), regardless of whether the study is provided by a training provide, college or university. The consultation seeks views on the Department’s ambition, objectives and coverage, together with aspects such as:

  • modularity
  • maintenance
  • quality provision
  • flexible learning
  • credit transfer
  • restrictions based on previous study.

This consultation will be relevant to you if your organisation intends to, or is likely to be in a position to, deliver qualifications at this level, with a funding agreement at the time the loan entitlement becomes live. Centres with an existing advanced learner loan facility which is used only for qualifications at Level 3 may also be interested to see the proposals, although provision of Level 3 is not included in the LLE. The consultation is available here. The closing date for responses is 6 May at 23.59.