An accredited course will have been developed to a set of regulated standards and will have received regulated approval.
An unaccredited course will be developed by a company or individual without approval against regulated standards. The course may be no different in quality to the accredited course but has no approval process.
How are accredited courses regulated?
An accredited course delivered by a business, school or college (Centre) will be attached to an Awarding Body. An Awarding Body will have been approved by OFQUAL to accredit courses.
OFQUAL will ensure Awarding Bodies develop courses which meet the required training and assessment standards specified for the level of learning taking place. For example, a Level 1 (GCSE) may only require candidates to become aware of knowledge while Level 8 (Doctorate) would expect a candidate to write a thesis on the topic.
The Awarding Body who have developed the course will authorise Centres to deliver their courses and will ensure their Centres are delivering the courses to required assessment standards as well as the required knowledge and techniques. For example, an Awarding Body will ensure Resuscitation taught at Level 3 is assessed in the correct format for Level 3 as well as ensuring their courses are up to day with latest Resuscitation Council Guidance.
The Centres will have trainers who deliver the courses on their behalf and the Centres will ensure the trainers are delivering the courses to assessment standards and to the required knowledge and techniques required by the Awarding Body. The failure of a Centre to ensure the standards of their trainers, can lead to them loosing Centre registration.
What is OFQUAL?
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) was set up in 2010 and regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England.
OFQUAL is independent of Government and is a non-ministerial government department which reports directly to Parliament.
OFQUAL maintain the standards of:
- AS Levels
- A Levels
- Vocational and Technical qualifications
Their responsibilities are to ensure:
- regulated qualifications reliably indicate the knowledge, skills and understanding students have demonstrated
- assessments and exams demonstrate what student has studied and achieved
- people have confidence in the regulated qualifications
- people have information on the full range of regulated qualifications
What are Awarding Bodies?
Awarding Bodies (also known as Awarding Organisations or Exam Boards) are experts in developing learning programs or courses which meet the OFQUAL standards and the learning needs of students or businesses. Awarding bodies may specialise in developing learning programs:
- for specialist areas like construction
- for general learning, for example Health and Safety
- which focus on certain age groups, for example Secondary Schools.
The Awarding Bodies will set the requirements for delivering their courses, including resources required for delivery and will issue the certificates for completing the course.
Awarding bodies will ensure their courses are delivered to standards by providing development for trainers in their courses and by quality assuring the delivery.
What are Centres?
Centres are schools, colleges or business who deliver the courses developed by the Awarding Bodies. The centres will have trainers who work for them to deliver the courses either internally to the business or externally to other businesses. The Centres are responsible for ensuring the trainers deliver to the required standards of the Awarding Body.
How are unaccredited courses regulated?
There is no external regulation of unaccredited courses or qualifications. A qualification can be developed to meet the needs of a business or student, but it will not be checked by an Awarding Body to ensure the knowledge meets their requirements and there is no check by OFQUAL to ensure it meets the level of study.
A company, school or college can develop a course for its trainers to deliver or it could deliver the resources of an Accredited qualification, but not issue an accredited certificate.
An unaccredited course does not mean a lower standard of delivery, learning or qualification when delivered by a reputable company. A reputable company will maintain the standards the same as a regulated company.
Comparison with other qualifications If you undertake a Level 3 First Aid at Work, you should be assessed to the same standard and cover the same outcomes whichever Centre you train with.
Comparison of levels If you undertake a Level 3 course, you should expect the same standard of assessment and to gain the level of knowledge as another Level 3 course in another topic. For example on Level 2 course may be expected to complete a multichoice question paper, while on a Level 3 you may answer some open questions and on a Level 7 you would be expected to write a dissertation.
Easy recruitment Ability to advertise a role requires a set qualification and to easily look up qualifications stated on CV's.
Count towards other qualifications Regulated qualifications are worth Credits and you be able to count credits from a course towards a larger qualification.
Recognised by Professional Bodies In certain careers like Law, there is a requirement to belong to professional bodies. These professional bodies will require you to have certain regulated qualifications or levels of Credits in order to become a member.
Recognising staff Some staff will see regulated qualifications as investing in them and a reward for their commitment to the business. While they may not need regulated qualifications in your business, they may need them for progressing in their career internally or externally. Staff will appreciate this investment and recongition.
Flexible Regulated qualifications have set content and delivery times which may not suit the business. Unaccredited courses can be adapted to the specifics learning needs of the business.
Student engagement As the qualification is flexible to the learning needs of the business, students are more engaged as they can see how it relates to their job. When students undertake rigid Accedited courses, where sections do not relate to their area of work, they can switch off from the learning and not complete the qualification.
Cheaper Unaccredited qualifications do not come with accredited qualifications which save money on the course. Accredited certificate costs cover the cost of the certificate and the regulation put in place to maintain the standards.
High standards and more options When using a reputable company, you get the same level of training which adapted to your needs and for a cheaper price.
How are courses audited?
Centres are required to have an Internal Quality Monitoring framework in which they detail how they will monitor the quality of the training provided by their trainers. This will include their paperwork returns, assessment procedures and the standard of delivery.
The Awarding Bodies will provide External Quality Monitoring of Centres to ensure their Internal Quality Monitoring is maintaining the required standards.
A reputable company which delivers Unnacredited Qualification or Courses will have the same standard of Internal Quality Monitoring framework as a regulated Centre, ensuring the same high standard of delivery by its trainers.
Do I need accredited training?
This will depend on your needs. At Dewi Development our courses are delivered to the same high standard whether accredited or unaccredited. We use the same policies for Quality Assurance, Complaints and Reasonable Adjustments on both types of training.
It is important for you to know whether your team are working towards a larger qualification. They may need Credits from an accredited course to count toward this longer term qualification. Alernatively your business or staff may be a member of a Professional Body which require regulated qualifications.
If you do not need accreditation but are focused on the skills your staff gain, then unaccredited training may meet your needs and save you money.