Jeremy Benson is executive director of vocational qualifications at Ofqual

Vocational qualifications play a big role in education and training, and we want everyone to have confidence in them. Employers should be able to trust the vocational qualifications they use to recruit and develop staff. Students should know that doors will open for them because of the qualifications they have. While most vocational qualifications are working as they should, there are some that fall short of the standards people expect.

So we're changing the way we regulate. We're putting validity at the heart of what we do. That means focusing on whether qualifications serve the purpose for which they are intended rather than on the details of how they're designed. We're setting higher expectations of regulated awarding organisations, who will also need to take responsibility for their qualifications. We're planning how we can support the reformed apprenticeships. And we've taken a good look at our own role in the vocational qualification system, identified where we could do better and how we propose to make changes.

First, we reviewed the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) and found it wanting. As a result, we have proposed to remove the QCF rules – though not QCF qualifications, if they are of the right standard. The QCF imposes a strict set of rules, which do not always support the development of good qualifications. We found that the QCF focuses too much on design and structure and not enough on validity and standards. We know that there are things that some people like about the QCF. But, we also know that some qualifications were damaged by changes made to meet the QCF rules.

We recently consulted on these proposals for the QCF and are currently reviewing the responses before making a decision.

Second, after consultation, we made the decision to remove the accreditation requirement for most qualifications. This will come into effect on 3rd November. This means we will no longer accredit qualifications. Accreditation is a check at a single point in time and it's easy to assume it provides a lifelong seal of approval. But it can't: qualifications have to be right at all stages - design, development, delivery, awarding and review. So we will monitor and audit awarding organisations to check they are ensuring validity at each stage.

Finally, we are improving the information we publish about qualifications and making it easier to access. At the moment, our Register of Regulated Qualifications isn't easy to use and it doesn't help colleges make informed choices, nor help employers understand the detail of the qualifications.

Awarding organisations will need to play their part, too. They will need to know who their qualification is for and review whether it's meeting their needs. They'll need to know what knowledge, skills and understanding are being assessed. And they will also need to justify their assessment methods, which should be valid and maintain standards. Many do this already – but not all.

We expect awarding organisations to be experts both in their sectors and in assessment. Vocational qualifications assess a wide range of practical and academic skills, along with detailed, technical and professional knowledge, which require different assessment approaches. Awarding organisations must make sure that assessors' judgements are reliable and that qualifications keep up with the latest innovations in professional and technical practice.

So, we're regulating vocational qualifications more intelligently and setting higher expectations of awarding organisations. Of course, qualifications are only part of the picture. High quality teaching and real hands-on experience are what develop skills and deliver benefits to learners, to employers and to the economy.

As we develop our plans, we're going to talk to colleges, teachers, employers and professionals in vocational education and training. This will help us to improve how we regulate for validity. If you'd like to be part of that conversation, we'd love to hear from you and you can contact us via our Helpdesk- Telephone 0300 303 3346 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Jeremy Benson is executive director of vocational qualifications at Ofqual, the qualifications regulator

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

RT @FENews: NGWLive: Network Rail: NGWLive: Network Rail
View Original Tweet

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

City of London Corporation provides Square Mile schoolchildren with food vouchers during half term break:…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page