Ministers removed the former Section 96 (Learning and Skills Act 2000) criteria for the approval of vocational qualifications for use in maintained schools and colleges up to the age of 19 in late 2010. This decision was taken as the former Section 96 criteria were out of date and did not support the Coalition Government's priorities for academic and vocational education.
In place of the previous arrangements, interim arrangements were put in place whilst Professor Alison Wolf conducted her review of vocational education. Professor Wolf's report was published on 3 March 2011.
The Government responded to Professor Wolf's report on 12 May 2011 and accepted all the recommendations contained in the report. The interim criteria for Section 96 approval have since been reviewed and they are now being updated to meet current policy. The updated interim criteria are shown below. These criteria remain under review and they will continue to reflect the implementation of Professor Wolf's recommendations and emerging Government priorities.
The Government published a Statement of Intent outlining the future publication of headline performance indicators on 20 July 2011. The statement can be viewed at this link: http://www.education.gov.uk/performancetables/
All qualifications which were submitted to the Department for consideration for funding approval under Section 96 before 20 July will be processed according to the interim arrangements in place up to that date. Qualifications submitted to the Department for consideration for funding approval under Section 96 after 20 July will be processed in accordance with the new arrangements detailed below.
From 20 July 2011 the following arrangements will apply to the consideration of qualifications for which Section 96 approval is sought.
1. No new qualifications to be approved for use pre-16. With the exception of any newly accredited GCSEs and equivalent academic qualifications (including iGCSEs with an established track record), no new qualifications for use pre-16 will be approved until further notice. Please note that there is no longer a requirement for pre-16 qualifications to be compliant with the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).
2. Newly accredited qualifications for use post 16 will in general be approved.
3. Only qualifications that meet high-quality standards shall be eligible for consideration for public funding. Accreditation by Ofqual (or a regulatory body recognised by them) will be expected to provide these assurances. Account will also be taken of whether the qualification is suitable for the age group in terms of maturity, social well-being and health and safety requirements.
In all cases, the Secretary of State will retain the ability to approve or not to approve qualifications on an individual basis.
Please Note: Section 96 lists all qualifications which are approved for use in maintained schools and colleges; it does not indicate the status of any qualification in the performance tables. DfE will separately determine which of the qualifications on Section 96 are reflected in the performance tables.
The Lists of Approved External Qualifications have the force of law. The contents of this web site serve only as guide. They should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of the law.