The Sector Skills Council for the places where we live and work
The QCF is a system for recognising skills and qualifications. It does this by awarding credit for qualifications and units (small steps of learning). Each unit has a credit value. This value specifies the number of credits gained by learners who complete that unit. The flexibility of the system allows learners to gain qualifications at their own pace along routes that suit them best.
The QCF aims to provide for a simple yet flexible structure that allows for the maintenance and continuing development of a qualifications system that is:
The QCF allows achievements to be recognised and recorded through the award of credits and qualifications. It supports the accumulation and transfer of credits and the easy identification of each achievement's level and size. In this way, learners have maximum flexibility and range of opportunities and can be reliably recognised for their achievements.
Units are the building blocks of all qualifications. The development of units within the QCF is explicitly separated from the development of rules of combination, the accreditation of qualifications and the subsequent assessment of units and award of credits and qualifications. The qualifications system has eight main elements:
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) maintain a unit databank. Awarding organisations can place units in the unit databank. Once units are in the databank, they may be used to build rules of combination. Awarding organisations subsequently use agreed rules of combination to develop qualifications and submit these for accreditation. At this point the units included in the qualification are made available to learners and the qualification is offered for use. The awarding organisation is responsible for carrying out assessments of units and awarding credits and qualifications.
Identifying QCF qualifications
Every unit and qualification has a credit value and a level. One credit represents ten notional hours of learning, showing how much time the average learner would take to complete the unit or qualification. Levels indicate difficulty and vary from entry (1) to level 8. There are three types of qualification:
You can have an award of any difficulty level from 1 to 8. This is because the type indicates the size of qualification, not its difficulty.
The title of a qualification should indicate its difficulty, how long it will take the average learner to complete, and its general content, using the following information:
Simply by looking at the title of a qualification you will be able to see how difficult it is, how long it will take the average learner to complete, and its general content. To understand the level of difficulty of the units and qualifications in the new framework it might be helpful to know that GCSEs (grade A*-C) are level 2, GCE A levels are level 3 and a PhD is a level 8. Knowing this can help to position the difficulty and challenge of each level in the framework.