Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 Explanatory Notes

Accreditation of certain qualifications
Section 138: Qualifications subject to the accreditation requirement

420.Under this section Ofqual may decide that a certain qualification, or qualifications falling within a certain description, is or are subject to the accreditation requirement. The effect of this is that a recognised body cannot award or authenticate any form of such a qualification unless the particular form is individually accredited. This requirement may be applied to a qualification in relation to all recognised bodies or only in relation to a specific recognised body. The requirement cannot be applied to a component of a qualification.

421.Before deciding to apply the accreditation requirement to a qualification in relation to all recognised bodies, Ofqual must consult such persons as it considers appropriate. Where the requirement it is to be applied to a qualification in relation to an individual recognised body it is that body alone that Ofqual must consult. Any decision reached by Ofqual to impose the requirement in respect of a qualification in relation to all recognised bodies must be published. Ofqual is able to revise any determination made under this section.

Section 139: Accreditation

422.This section provides for the process of accrediting particular forms of qualifications. Where a form of a qualification is submitted to Ofqual for accreditation it must be accredited if it meets the criteria for accreditation. An awarding body may award or authenticate a particular type of qualification, such as an English GCSE, in different forms. For example a version with material suitable for pre-16 students and one suitable for older students. Each form must be accredited if the qualification as a whole is subject to the accreditation requirement.

423.Ofqual may not charge for accreditation. (In contrast, the QCA currently has a power to charge for accreditation.)

Section 140: Criteria for accreditation

424.This section requires Ofqual to publish the criteria for accreditation or any subsequent revisions of those criteria. Ofqual must consult before setting or changing these criteria.

425.The criteria for accreditation are a threshold requirement – a recognised body must meet these criteria before it may award or authenticate a qualification that is subject to the accreditation requirement. Once that threshold requirement is met, satisfying the criteria is not as such an ongoing requirement of the recognised body. However, Ofqual will be able to mirror all relevant criteria in general or specific conditions in order to ensure continued compliance by the recognised body with the criteria. For example, if the initial criteria relating to a particular qualification specified that the awarding body would have to have certain quality assurance processes in place, Ofqual could make it an ongoing requirement that those processes were maintained and used through the imposition of conditions to that effect.

426.If Ofqual revises accreditation criteria relating to a particular qualification, the accreditation under the old criteria of any forms of that qualification will cease to have effect on a date specified by Ofqual. This will allow Ofqual to ensure that all qualifications that are awarded are kept up to date with changes to curriculum and other requirements, and that there is no confusion created by old versions of a qualification being available. Ofqual may determine that accreditation need not cease in these circumstances (for example if a change was relatively minor, Ofqual may decide to require that qualifications already accredited be amended through imposing conditions rather than requiring the awarding bodies to seek reaccreditation). Ofqual may make saving or transitional provision about a form of a qualification ceasing to be accredited: for example, where students are already studying for qualifications under the old criteria. Ofqual may allow the accreditation temporarily to continue for those purposes only.

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