Core aim: Builds on the outcomes within an occupational standard and enables an individual to specialise in an occupation having achieved the specialist qualification in addition to their attainment of outcomes set out in the standard.
Qualifications in this category may be approved under section A2D5 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (ASCL 2009).
The appropriate test for this category is the ‘additional specialist competence test’ (in section A2D5 (4) of the ASCL 2009) which is met in respect of an occupation if:
This category will also be subject to the ‘employer demand test’ (in section A2D5 (3) of the ASCL 2009) which is met if:
Qualifications in this category will be required to achieve the following purposes:
The qualification will enable students to acquire the knowledge, skills and behaviours relevant to developing additional specialised competence within an occupationThe qualification will provide employers with reliable evidence of a student’s attainment against occupational outcomes which form the minimum requirements for practice in a specialised duty or role within the occupational areaWhere identified as required by employers, the qualification will differentiate student achievement to support selection decisionsThe qualification will form part of an engaging, flexible, course of learning and act as motivation for students to progress within the occupational area
FULL CRITERIA SPRING/SUMMER 2023
Applicants must submit an assessment strategy and sample assessment materials which substantiate their approach to the assessment design, delivery and awarding of the qualification.
Applicants must provide an assessment strategy explaining the choices that have been made in the development of the qualification, as well as their approach to its ongoing monitoring.
There are three key properties of effective assessment strategies:
Assessment strategies are required to cover the following aspects of the qualifications design and maintenance arrangements:
Full details of the proposed requirements for assessment strategy documents can be found in Ofqual’s level 2 consultation.
Applicants are required to submit sample assessment materials (SAMs) which cover the entirety of the assessments a student would be required to complete in order to obtain the qualification.
Any SAMs submitted must be no more than 2 years old and assess mapped knowledge, skills, and behaviours within the occupational standard(s).
For qualifications with a single pathway, IfATE only require one complete set of SAMs, per qualification. Where a qualification contains multiple pathways, applicants are required to submit additional SAMs for each pathway.
Sample assessment materials must include:
Additional specialist technical qualifications should prepare students appropriately to specialise within an area of employment, and so assessment should be used to promote competence in relation to the specialist area covered by the qualification.
Holistic assessment in a technical context is achieved when a student is required to draw on outcomes from across a range of qualification content, demonstrating their learning within assessments that employers have validated are suitable to establish competence in relation to a given specialism.
Assessment design should therefore take opportunities, as appropriate to the occupation, to holistically assess how far students are competent across the breadth of the outcomes covered by the qualification. Consequently, the use of compensatory approaches are discouraged, if this could result in students achieving a pass for the qualification having failed to demonstrate sufficient competence for one or more of the specialist occupational requirements. Where compensation is applied, awarding bodies must explain, within their submission, how their approach to compensation does not compromise a student’s ability to demonstrate occupational competence.
Where qualifications are designed with several assessments available at multiple points throughout the qualification, IfATE believe there is a particular risk that these may assess (and that students could develop) a fragmented rather than holistic understanding of the specialist occupational area. In such situations, IfATE think it is particularly important to ensure students can make effective connections and draw together knowledge, skills and/or understanding from across the specialist requirements. Where possible, IfATE believe that assessments should also seek to incorporate key occupational behaviours, assessing these as part of the wider assessment construct.
Awarding bodies may decide that a modular approach to assessment is appropriate to the purpose of their qualification. If taking a modular approach, awarding bodies must ensure that assessments group content coherently, generating tasks which are representative of actual industry requirements.
When delivered correctly, modular approaches to assessment can provide several benefits to students. IfATE has identified the following primary benefits of adopting a modular approach to assessment:
These benefits must be considered alongside the requirement for students to develop specialist competence within the occupational area to which the qualification relates. It is IfATE’s view that the achievement of small tasks in isolation is not sufficient for a student to demonstrate competence within the occupational area, as it removes the requirement for students to holistically demonstrate their learning across the breadth of the occupational requirements.
IfATE also expect modularity to be used to support flexibility within a defined qualification structure and not to promote undue levels of optionality. It is IfATE’s view that a high level of optionality within a qualification is likely to lead to students not being required to cover occupational requirements sufficiently or consistently, thus reducing employer understanding/confidence in the competence being delivered by the technical qualification.
The achievement of a technical qualification is intended to signal to employers that a student has achieved a level of competence suitable to perform a specialist job role or function within that occupational area. As a result, the requirements for a pass grade must be set accordingly and IfATE expect that awarding bodies set out their approach as part of their submission.
IfATE acknowledge in some occupations; employers may value the ability of a qualification to differentiate student achievement (for example, when comparing candidates). In such cases, IfATE encourages awarding bodies to differentiate grading above the pass grade if employers have indicated this is valuable to them for recruitment purposes.
To maintain comparability between their own qualification offers, IfATE suggest that awarding bodies consider adopting a consistent grading scale approach within their qualification offer.
Published 10 Jan 2023
Last updated 10 Jan 2023