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Regulating qualifications in a time of change

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Presentation entitled 'Regulating qualifications in a time of change', delivered at the Federation of Awarding Bodies conference, 10 Novemeber 2010.

Presentation entitled 'Regulating qualifications in a time of change', delivered at the Federation of Awarding Bodies conference, 10 Novemeber 2010.

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  • Good afternoon everyone. Many thanks for inviting me here today. My name is Isabel Nisbet and I am the chief executive of Ofqual. It is my very great pleasure to be standing before you for the third time at the FAB conference. My colleagues and I from Ofqual consider this an invaluable event in our calendars. Not only is it an opportunity to hear some very interesting and informative speeches, it gives us a chance to talk to you, the awarding organisations, about the challenges and opportunities you have faced in the past 12 months and those you foresee in the future. It gives us a chance to talk about how together we can tackle these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. Ofqual does not desire to be an unthinking regulator, imposing bureaucracy for no reason, and talking here today will help give us an idea of what is working, what isn’t, and how we can improve the qualifications system for those who use it. You’ve asked me here today to take about regulating qualifications in a time of change. 2010 has certainly been a time of change. As we all know, we have a new government, a new education minister and a new Department for Education. These changes have meant our qualifications system has changed radically. For example, for the first time next year state schools will be able to offer IGCSEs in key subjects. Meanwhile, work on Phase 4 of Diplomas has ceased. I’ll come on to how Ofqual will tackle those changes later. Today I’ll talk about the changes that have affected Ofqual and those we regulate already. I’ll first look at why regulation is necessary. At Ofqual we have no desire to increase bureaucracy for you as awarding organisations, and I’ll look at ways we can tackle that. I’ll then touch on the QCF, the Diplomas and our new Regulatory IT system for accrediting qualifications, which as most of you know recently replaced the old web-based accreditation systems. Finally I’ll look at challenges from you to us and from us to you which we may face in the next year. I’ll then be happy to take any questions from you.
  • I’ll now look at the QCF. As you all know, the introduction of the QCF – the Qualifications and Credit Framework – is one of the broadest changes to affect our vocational qualifications system over the last few year. It links in directly with our transparency and public confidence objectives. The QCF was designed to ensure that vocational qualifications were easily understood by everyone and that the demands of such qualifications could be better measured and valued. The QCF also supports learning in an ever-changing environment. Often today’s learners can find that they cannot put down roots in one part of the country for the duration of a course. Instead, due to individual circumstances or opportunities, they may have to move town or city, meaning they cannot progress with the same studies. The QCF protects their achievement by giving value to everything that is learnt, so long as it has been accredited. It also allows for qualifications to be built up – enabling the achievement of a qualification to be undertaken in a flexible, planned, and often less daunting, way. This benefits not just the learner, but also employers who are able to construct qualifications to meet their needs and the needs of their workforce.
  • Good afternoon everyone. Many thanks for inviting me here today. My name is Isabel Nisbet and I am the chief executive of Ofqual. It is my very great pleasure to be standing before you for the third time at the FAB conference. My colleagues and I from Ofqual consider this an invaluable event in our calendars. Not only is it an opportunity to hear some very interesting and informative speeches, it gives us a chance to talk to you, the awarding organisations, about the challenges and opportunities you have faced in the past 12 months and those you foresee in the future. It gives us a chance to talk about how together we can tackle these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. Ofqual does not desire to be an unthinking regulator, imposing bureaucracy for no reason, and talking here today will help give us an idea of what is working, what isn’t, and how we can improve the qualifications system for those who use it. You’ve asked me here today to take about regulating qualifications in a time of change. 2010 has certainly been a time of change. As we all know, we have a new government, a new education minister and a new Department for Education. These changes have meant our qualifications system has changed radically. For example, for the first time next year state schools will be able to offer IGCSEs in key subjects. Meanwhile, work on Phase 4 of Diplomas has ceased. I’ll come on to how Ofqual will tackle those changes later. Today I’ll talk about the changes that have affected Ofqual and those we regulate already. I’ll first look at why regulation is necessary. At Ofqual we have no desire to increase bureaucracy for you as awarding organisations, and I’ll look at ways we can tackle that. I’ll then touch on the QCF, the Diplomas and our new Regulatory IT system for accrediting qualifications, which as most of you know recently replaced the old web-based accreditation systems. Finally I’ll look at challenges from you to us and from us to you which we may face in the next year. I’ll then be happy to take any questions from you.
  • Good afternoon everyone. Many thanks for inviting me here today. My name is Isabel Nisbet and I am the chief executive of Ofqual. It is my very great pleasure to be standing before you for the third time at the FAB conference. My colleagues and I from Ofqual consider this an invaluable event in our calendars. Not only is it an opportunity to hear some very interesting and informative speeches, it gives us a chance to talk to you, the awarding organisations, about the challenges and opportunities you have faced in the past 12 months and those you foresee in the future. It gives us a chance to talk about how together we can tackle these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. Ofqual does not desire to be an unthinking regulator, imposing bureaucracy for no reason, and talking here today will help give us an idea of what is working, what isn’t, and how we can improve the qualifications system for those who use it. You’ve asked me here today to take about regulating qualifications in a time of change. 2010 has certainly been a time of change. As we all know, we have a new government, a new education minister and a new Department for Education. These changes have meant our qualifications system has changed radically. For example, for the first time next year state schools will be able to offer IGCSEs in key subjects. Meanwhile, work on Phase 4 of Diplomas has ceased. I’ll come on to how Ofqual will tackle those changes later. Today I’ll talk about the changes that have affected Ofqual and those we regulate already. I’ll first look at why regulation is necessary. At Ofqual we have no desire to increase bureaucracy for you as awarding organisations, and I’ll look at ways we can tackle that. I’ll then touch on the QCF, the Diplomas and our new Regulatory IT system for accrediting qualifications, which as most of you know recently replaced the old web-based accreditation systems. Finally I’ll look at challenges from you to us and from us to you which we may face in the next year. I’ll then be happy to take any questions from you.
  • I usually like to end our time together with challenges – firstly from us to you and then from you to us. This year I’ll revisit some previous challenges and examine where we are with them. Firstly – regulatory burden. I know this is something that is still a bugbear for many of you, and I would be interested in hearing your views on any ways we can improve this. For my part, I feel we are aiming to ensure we have all the information we need without increasing your workload to an unacceptable level. Trust – I think, and I hope you agree, there is a culture of trust between Ofqual and awarding organisations. We need access to information to ensure we are fulfilling our role as regulator, but as long as you can provide us with this, we realise you are expert in your field and trust you to do the right job. Markets – Codes of Practice – Processes – we certainly do check processes. I hope working with us this year has proved to you that we want to be light touch but hands on. We visit you to check you have the systems and policies in place to provide good quality qualifications and assessments. When you need help we’ll do our best to get you the information you need. Standards – I have already touched on standards today so I won’t go into this in great detail. I hope, by hearing more about our monitoring, scrutiny and comparability work, you can be sure we take a realistic and robust view of the maintenance of standards.
  • Let’s now revisit the challenges from us to you. Firstly – the new regulatory world. Have you risen to the challenge? I think largely you have. Summer awarding season passed smoothly and we’re currently all working together following the launch of RITS. You still have concerns about burden and bureaucracy which I hope together we can tackle in future. Quality control – Regulatory rules – Cost of qualifications – The QCF benefits – I know we have touched on this so once again, I won’t say too much more. The QCF is still a brave new world for us all but I hope in the future it will be a key tool in realising the benefits of all the qualifications system has to offer. Innovation – this is again another brave new world. Innovation won’t be easy, especially in an age of austerity where limited resources may make it hard to test new systems. But, as I said before, I hope you’ll find in Ofqual a regulator which supports rather than stifles innovations where possible.
  • Finally today I’d like to take this opportunity to touch on another change, this time one which will take effect next year. I will be bidding you farewell as Chief Executive of Ofqual. As many of you know, earlier this year I announced my intention to resign to take up a post overseas. I have greatly enjoyed my time here at Ofqual and it has been a pleasure to work with you all as awarding organisations as the new regulator was established. I would like to thank you for making my time at Ofqual so interesting and for all your help over the last year.

Regulating qualifications in a time of change Regulating qualifications in a time of change Presentation Transcript

  • Regulating qualifications in a time of change Isabel Nisbet, Chief Executive, Ofqual November 2010
  • The changing scene
    • Qualifications
    • The Government agendas
    • The regulatory agenda
    • Challenges
  • International position (educational attainment of young people and adults)
    • Bobbling between the top group and the second group
  • Adult skills (age 25-64)
        • Proportion of adults at level 2 (equivalent of 5 or more good GCSEs):
          • UK 18 th out of 30 OECD countries
            • Behind Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Canada, USA….
        • Proportion of adults educated at degree level or above:
          • UK 11th out of 30 OECD countries
            • Behind Canada, Netherlands, USA
        • Source: OECD Education at a Glance 2009
  • CBI education and skills survey 2010
    • Business priorities for schools and colleges
    • Improve employability skills 70%
    • Improve literacy and numeracy 63%
    • Raise overall standards 46%
    • Provide high-quality vocational options 42%
    • Improve science and maths skills 28%
  • Education/qualifications issues facing England/UK
        • Long tail of under-achievement
        • Can we secure a place in the top international division?
        • “Burden” of assessment and how to assess
          • When/how often to test young people
          • Internal V external
          • Modular v linear
        • Adult skills gaps
        • Status and quality of vocational training and qualifications
  • The Government’s agenda
        • White Papers in 2010/11:
          • DfE (curriculum, assessment and 14-19 qualifications)
          • BIS (following consultation on skills)
        • Bill expected in ?January 2011
          • Abolition of QCDA
          • “ Strengthening” of Ofqual
        • Changed funding arrangements around qualifications
          • End of JACQA
          • Initiatives around FE College procurement of qualifications
  • The Government agenda (ctd)
        • 14-19 qualifications
          • Interest in international comparisons – changing standards??
          • End of the preferred routes/2013 entitlement
          • But “English Baccalaureate”
          • Views about content
          • Wolf review of 14-19 vocational education
        • More reviews
          • Dame Clare Tickell on Early Years
          • Expert group on KS2 assessment (Lord Bew)
          • ?Engagement with HE?
  • Headlines for the industry from Government agenda
    • Biggest change of political culture since 1997
    • Inherited assumptions being re-examined
    • Difficult transition from the old to the new
    • Major restrictions on public funding – for schools, colleges, local authorities, quangos, government departments….
    • Tensions between market philosophy and central policies (particularly in 14-19 qualifications)
    • Less development work to be done at the centre – more room for the industry (as long as you stick together)
    • Some policy flux/uncertainty is inevitable
  • The regulatory agenda
    • Standards
    • Frameworks
    • Making a reality of the 2009 Act
  • Standards
    • Ensuring that qualifications are fit for the regulated system
      • Primary responsibility with awarding bodies
      • Ofqual may choose to accredit
    • Accreditation – only when requirements are met
    • Real-time monitoring – by risk
    • Retrospective monitoring – GQs and VQs
  • Monitoring standards of VQs
    • Recent/current examples:
    • L3 Diploma for Children and Young People’s Workforce
    • IIAL L3 award in Automotive Refrigerant Handling
    • McDonalds L3 award in Supervising Food Safety in Catering
    • Edexcel BTEC L2 I Wirk Skills
    • Financial services Skills Council L4 Diploma for Financial Advisors
  • What we look at
    • Validity
    • Reliability
    • Comparability (where appropriate)
    • Minimising bias
    • Manageability
  • What we look at
    • Validity
    • Reliability
    • Comparability (where appropriate)
    • Minimising bias
    • Manageability
  • Validity
    • Does the assessment measure the right things? (narrow)
    • Is the qualification FIT FOR PURPOSE (wider)
    • As important for VQs as for GQs
  • The standards debate – old and new
    • OLD – emphasis on comparability over time and equivalence
    • Debates about “grade drift”, “dumbing down”
    • Scepticism about comparability between VQs and GQs
    • Influenced by use of qualification outcomes in accountability measures for schools and colleges
  • Has it shrunk?
  • The cold shower theory of exams
  • The NEW standards debate – fitness for purpose
    • Suitability for progression – employment, HE, next stage of learning
    • Supporting/reinforcing the best teaching and learning
    • VALIDITY PLUS
    • Standards can change if purposes change or if best practice advances
  • Frameworks
    • Ofqual wants a SINGLE FRAMEWORK
      • Consultation
      • Wolf evidence
    • Structure of qualifications and assessment/grading systems must be FIT FOR PURPOSE
    • Important place for unitised qualifications
    • Important place for credit-based qualifications
    • But one size does not necessarily fit all
  • The QCF
    • 143 awarding organisations recognised to operate in the QCF
    • 6,619 qualifications accredited in the QCF
    • 28,650 units in the unit bank
    • Units of variable quality
    • Regulatory arrangements could be made less burdensome
      • Evaluation workshops coming up
    • Benefits still to be realised
  • Remember the benefits
          • Gives value to everything learnt
          • Flexibility for learners and employers
          • Consistent approach to describing qualifications
          • Enables qualifications to be constructed unit by unit
          • Provides an improved method for meeting industry needs
  • Making a reality of the 2009 Act
    • Primary responsibility with awarding organisations
    • Regulation – about standards, confidence and value for money
    • Ofqual ensures that awarding organisations are controlling quality and checks particular qualifications when necessary
    • Proportionate, risk-based and evidence-based
    • Seen and heard when qualifications are challenged
    • Active against malpractice – and we will back you up
    • Read and comment on our consultation documents…..
  • The changing scene
    • Qualifications
    • The Government agendas
    • The regulatory agenda
    • Challenges
  • The changing scene
    • Qualifications
    • The Government agendas
    • The regulatory agenda
    • Challenges
  • Challenges from you to us
    • Are we still adding burden and cost to the system?
    • Do we really trust awarding organisations?
    • Are we always responding to questions consistently?
    • Is RITS really going to be better than WBA?
    • Are our regulations/operating rules etc too complicated and detailed?
    • Does Ofqual have the capacity and capability to meet expectations?
    • Are we really independent from Ministerial Government?
  • Challenges from us to you
    • Are you prepared to take real responsibility for the quality of your qualifications and units?
    • Are you ready for the demands of cash-strapped public purchasers of your qualifications?
    • Are you prepared to adapt to the world of the new Government – and speak to it cogently as an industry?
    • Are you prepared to be truly transparent about your activities?
    • Are you prepared to debate with the public without being defensive?
    • Now that you’ve put so many qualifications into the QCF, are you prepared to realise some of the benefits?
    • Do your qualifications meet the needs of the 21 st century?
  • And finally…..
  • … it’s goodbye from me