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.  It enables courses that lead to qualifications to be taught in funded institutions, and for public funds to be used for these courses and qualifications.  Each qualification is approved in accordance with its suitability for students in the following age categories: pre-16, 16-18 and 18+. 

Further information on the legal basis for section 96 approval can be found here.

Please note that the section 96 website is updated on a monthly basis and consequently there is a time delay between qualifications being regulated by Ofqual and, where eligible, being published on the section 96 approval website.  More information regarding current section 96 processes can be found here.  Any further queries concerning the approval of qualifications on section 96 should be directed to the section 96 email address listed at the bottom of this page.

In May 2012, the DfE lifted the interim arrangements for approving pre-16 qualifications and established core principles for all qualifications submitted to the DfE to be considered for section 96 approval.  An overview of the section 96 qualification core approval principles can be found here.

To determine if a qualification has gained section 96 approval you can either search for individual qualifications here or alternatively you can download full lists of approved and archived section 96 qualifications here.


Further information and queries

In conjunction with the DfE’s associated organisations, the DfE has published a document outlining the journey a qualification has to travel from being regulated by Ofqual, gaining (where eligible) section 96 approval and (again where eligible) being published on the Learning Aim Reference Application (LARA) with Education Funding Agency (EFA) funding validity.  This document provides useful links to all organisations involved as well as establishing the timeframes within which a qualification is expected to complete each stage of the journey.  A link to this document can be found here. 

Section 96 approval is not an indication of whether or not a qualification will be included in Key Stage 4 Performance Tables.  More information about the process for considering qualifications for inclusion in performance tables and a list of qualifications that will count in tables in 2014 can be found on the DfE website here.  If you have any queries relating to Key Stage 4 Performance Tables then they should be directed to tables.perf@education.gsi.gov.uk

Furthermore, if you have any queries relating to the funding of qualifications for young people then you can read the EFA Funding Guidance documents here or you should contact the Education Funding Agency (EFA) at fundingqueries.EFA@education.gsi.gov.uk.  EFA funding validity for a qualification can be found by searching the Learning Aim Reference Application (LARA).  If your query is relating to the data found on the Learning Aim Reference Service (LARS), you should contact the Data Service Service Desk at servicedesk@thedataservice.org.uk

If you require any information about qualifications and the school census then you should contact the Data Collection Helpdesk service via the service request form that can be found here.

If you wish to find the correct QAN number for a qualification then you can search here.

If you have any queries regarding section 96, please email us at section96.mailbox@education.gsi.gov.uk