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Attempt at creation of an NQF

This is a record of the state of qualifications development in England in 2009. This approach has now been superseded by the QCF, but it it is worth keeping a record of this approach as National Qualifications Frameworks are being developed in other countries and there may be considerable interest the failure of this approach in England.

In 2009 certain types of qualifications were being framed within a National Qualifications Framework with 8 levels. GCSEs are located at levels 1 and 2 and A Levels at level 3. An NVQ 2 is located at level 2 in the NQF. Each accredited qualification has an NQF level. If qualifications share the same level this means that they are broadly similar in terms of the demand they place on the learner. However, qualifications at the same level can still be very different in terms of content and duration.

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) sets out the levels at which qualifications are recognised. It helps learners make informed decisions on the qualifications they want to pursue, by comparing the levels of different qualifications and identifying clear progression routes to their chosen career. It aims to:

  • promote access, motivation and achievement in education and training, strengthening international competitiveness
  • promote lifelong learning by helping people to understand clear progression routes
  • avoid duplication and overlap of qualifications while making sure all learning needs are covered
  • promote public and professional confidence in the integrity and relevance of national awards.
Only qualifications that have been accredited by the regulatory authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (QCA, DELLS and CCEA) are included in the NQF. There had been changes to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the period 2004 - 2009. The number of levels increased from 6 to 9 (entry level to level 8). Entry level and levels 1 to 3 have not changed. Higher level qualifications, at levels 4 and 5 in the previous NQF, have been assigned more precise levels, from levels 4 to 8, in the current NQF. From January 2006 qualifications were awarded against the new NQF levels. (Higher-level NVQs and related qualifications continued to be awarded against the previous NQF levels.)
Additionally, there is an England, Wales and Northern Ireland framework for higher education qualifications (FHEQ). The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland applies to degrees, diplomas, certificates and other academic awards (other than honorary degrees and higher doctorates) granted by a university or college in the exercise of its degree awarding powers. The framework is a qualifications framework, based upon the outcomes represented by the main qualification titles. It is not a credit framework, nor is it dependent on the use of credit.
There was also an attempt to launch the Diploma as a new 14-19 qualification that will bring an innovative approach to learning. It was intended to enable students to gain knowledge, understanding and hands-on experience of sectors that they are interested in, while putting new skills into practice. For example, as part of an engineering Diploma, learners will have the opportunity to study physics and have direct involvement with how physics is applied in the workplace through a project in a local engineering company. The intended outcome is more engaged and enthusiastic learners who understand the purpose of what they are learning, as they see their newly-acquired knowledge and skills in action. Employers and awarding bodies have teamed up with schools, colleges and universities to form Diploma Development Partnerships (DDPs) in order to develop content for the new qualification. Diplomas will be available at levels 1, 2 and 3 in 14 sector areas as a national entitlement from 2013. First teaching of the following Diplomas was available from 2008 in the following sectors:
  • creative and media
  • construction and the built environment
  • engineering
  • IT
  • society, health and development.