Qualifications and Progression

Further Education qualifications are undergoing radical reforms.

These range from altering the structure and content of GCSEs and A levels to formulating new vocational qualifications, traineeships and apprenticeship frameworks.

These complex reforms, together with the raising of the participation age and the cuts on Information, Advice and Guidance, mean that it is essential that NUS FE zone prioritises qualifications and progression this year.

This policy portal will give you the chance to debate and discuss qualifications and progression, providing a student perspective on how they should be shaped.

    How will Government reforms affect the structure and content of FE qualifications?
    What are the implications of these for future FE learners?
    How would students shape this framework?

6 Responses to this theme

  1. Shakira Martin says:

    It’s really frustrating that these external organisations like QFQUAL can have such a big impact on students learning experience although they themselves are not going to be the one directly effected.

    During secondary school I was classed as an under achiever, and hated exams, but much preferred coursework as it allowed me to express my knowledge and what I had understood and learnt about that particular topic.

    However, I feel that these changes will have a dramatic impact on students especially those who feel less confident completing exams.

    I strongly believe that exams are not always the best way of assessing how much someone has learnt, understood and knows about something. Exams are limited to certain questions and therefore only really shows what people don’t know rather than what they do.

    We should be supportive and encourage students that learning in fun, and should not give the added pressure to remember 2 years of work before completing an exam on top of the social issue they face as young people and family life. I mean who really remembers what they did last week let alone 2 years ago.

    We are not robots and the government should think about the long term effects these changes can and will make on how education is perceived by young people.

    I am really passionate and upset society is so wrapped up in achieved targets, that they will do it at the expense of the life of these students.

    It is absolutely disgusting!!

    We as student ourselves and committee members need to really stand up for our students in trying to make a change about this.

    I’m ready to stand firm and stand strong……question is ” are you!”.

  2. Anna Connell-Smith says:

    Here’s an overview of the policy discussions from zone conference:


    It allows you to gather your thoughts and construct arguments more carefully
    It offers help in developing skills that are essential for HE
    Exams are just a ‘memory challenge’ where you rely on the teacher to give you the information.

    Exams stop plagiarism and parents helping students too much
    Exams help people learn time management and revision skills

    Coursework should be linked to certain subjects but less so to others

    Linear assessment

    Exams at the end of the course allow you to gain a better grasp of the subject
    It gives you longer to understand the subject

    It is not supportive to different learning styles
    Modules increase confidence as you can review progress
    Linear assessment encourages teaching to the test

    Work experience

    It should be linked to what students want to pursue in their future career
    It should be relevant to the courses students are studying
    IAG on work experience should be better
    It is valuable as a concept, but needs improving

    Remaining in education or training until the age of 18

    It is good to receive training, past the age of 16, but not good for those who have other responsibilities such as student parents or those with caring responsibilities
    What infrastructure and support will be put in place to support this change?
    This is just an exercise in removing NEET numbers
    There are worthwhile jobs which do not need to involve education or training

    Continuing maths and English past GCSE if you don’t achieve a grade C

    These subjects are very important at GCSE and the grades you achieve impact on your career and future education. You should therefore continuing studying
    What will the quality of our future workforce look like with young people who do not have C grade and above?
    Are functional skills an alternative?


    There is a huge difference between the IAG offer in schools compared to colleges
    Schools brainwash people to stay whereas colleges are better as they offer face to face impartial advice
    Schools need to give better advice on a range of qualifications, not just A levels
    Schools must focus on what is good for the student and not the school
    Colleges should give more guidance earlier on
    Both need a better website to map route from A to B, from where you are to where you want to be


    They need to be seen as more than just cheap labour and the companies involved need to be regulated
    Bigger companies are better at providing well-structured and meaningful apprenticeships than smaller ones
    Many apprentices are moved out of their jobs once they have completed which halts progression and affects future employment
    In practice they are good, but in reality often delivered poorly

    Vocational Qualifications

    These qualifications are less valued by employers and HE and this is unfair
    These qualifications are seen as less academic and less prestigious
    Careers guidance needs to include more information on vocational qualifications
    More Choice is needed, Stop pigeon-holing people into vocational or academic

  3. Anna Connell-Smith says:

    On Friday Ofqual confirmed that GCSEs will be reformed from 2015

    This will mean:

    A new grading system will use numbers instead of letters

    Coursework will be scrapped in most subjects

    All exams will be after two years of study

    What do you think about these changes?

  4. Anna Connell-Smith says:

    At FE Zone Conference we launched our GCSE and A level Interim Research Report.

    The report includes the results from a recently conducted national survey with FE and HE students, on the Government’s changes to the structure of both qualifications.

    Please read the report here and use this portal to share your thoughts on its findings:


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