Sections 96, 98, 100 and 101 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 ("the 2000 Act") make provision for the Secretary of State to approve relevant qualifications for the purposes of public funding.
In England, relevant qualifications are those qualifications to which Part 7 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 ("the 2009 Act") applies, namely an academic or vocational qualification awarded or authenticated in England other than a foundation degree, a first degree, and a degree at a higher level (section 130(2) of the 2009 Act). The provision does not cover courses that lead to more informal certificates or provision that is not certificated in any way.
Section 96 of the 2000 Act provides for the approval of relevant qualifications for those under the age of 19. Where a course leads to a relevant qualification, the course must not be provided by or on behalf of a maintained school, or funded by an authorised body (namely a local authority or by the Education Funding Agency on behalf of the Secretary of State) unless the relevant qualification is approved by the Secretary of State.