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Information about NVQS

History of NVQs


What is an NVQ?

NVQ refers to National Vocational Qualifications which have been around for a number of decades.  They applied in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These vocational qualifications are mainly based on work-based competence. Unlike academic qualifications, NVQ focuses mainly on testing your ability to perform skills and tasks associated with a job role. You are mainly expected to use the first person ‘l’ when referring to your self in order to take ownership of any discussion about your practice. NVQ’s also allow unique assessment methods such as prior learning, witness testimonies, and product observations.


Evolution of NVQ’s

There were some changes to NVQs in 2004 which allowed the level of qualifications to increase from level 4 to 8. NVQ’s  where also underpinned by the  National Qualification Framework at this time. The National Qualification Framework was later withdrawn in 2010 and replaced by the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).


Introduction of the QCF

This was a big development as units were given credits. This allowed candidates who failed to achieve a whole qualification to at least receive a unit certificate and credits. Before this development candidates who failed to complete a qualification got nothing. The QCF allowed credit transfer and was a real revolution to vocational qualifications.

It had three levels which reflected the size of the qualification. All qualifications regarded as awards were between 1 to 12 credits. Those between 13 to 36 were regarded as certificates. The diploma started at 37 credits and above.

The term NVQ was dropped around this time. However, there was an argument for some courses from their various sector bodies to still retain the  letters “NVQ” in some qualifications titles. This was mainly for branding purposes.


Introduction  of the RQF.

The QCF was withdrawn towards the end of 2015 and replaced by the current Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). The QCF was found to have been too rigid as it focused more on structure. The RQF is expected to be more flexible and now has an estimated number of hours a candidate might expect to take in order to complete a qualification. This is commonly referred to as the Total Qualification Time (TQT).