Section 96 is the section of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 that provides the Secretary of State with the power to approve qualifications for delivery to young people aged under 19 years old.

Where section 96 approval has been awarded to a qualification it enables that qualification to be taught in funded institutions, such as maintained schools, academies and post 16 institutions, and for public funds to be used for these courses and qualifications.

Each qualification is approved in accordance with its suitability to be delivered to students in the following age categories;

  • Pre - 16
  • 16  to 18
  • 18+

Qualifications and courses in funded institutions.

For an external qualification to be eligible for funding by an authorised body, or for it to be delivered by or delivered on behalf of a maintained school or academy it must be approved on Section 96.

However, individual academies may in exceptional circumstances, under the terms of the model funding agreement, seek the specific written approval of the Secretary of State to offer a course leading to a qualification without Section 96 approval.

A funded institution can teach a course that is not on section 96, if it does not lead to a qualification.  Section 96 only applies to courses that lead to a qualification and does not cover courses that lead to more informal certificates, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, or provision that is not certificated.