This section of the guidance covers the duration and review of approvals and the management of changes to qualifications during the approval period.   

1. Review of the qualification

Approval will be granted to higher technical qualifications for an initial period of 5 years from the point that the awarding body is informed of the final approval. We will set out a full process for reviews once the first digital approvals are completed and we have reflected on lessons learnt. We will also keep this process under review to reflect any broader changes in the programme.

However, reviews will follow the following principles:

  • straightforward, simple, and clear: an easy process for awarding bodies to engage with
  • proportionate: avoiding the need for awarding bodies to provide unnecessary information or documentation that may have already been provided during the original approvals process
  • flexible: taking account of the schedule of changes that are being made to the qualification by the awarding body or as a result of employer changes to the occupational standard

To ensure continuity between one approval period and another, the deadline for a review will be the penultimate April prior to the end of the approval period (two years before the end of the period; in the third year of teaching). For example, the first digital qualifications will be approved from June 2021 to June 2026. They will need to be reapproved by April 2024 to ensure continuity of approval for September 2026 and beyond.

Outside this formal review point, there will be additional opportunities for changes to qualifications be approved either initiated by awarding bodies or in response to revisions to occupational standards. These are outlined below. To take account of these changes, the Institute will take a pragmatic and flexible approach, using discretion to vary and extend the approval period as appropriate.

2. Changing qualifications

The two primary sources of changes:

  • changes that need to be made by the awarding body
  • changes required following revisions to an occupational standard

Awarding bodies make changes to qualifications as part of continuous improvement. There are two types of changes, major changes which will need to be submitted to the Institute for approval, and minor changes which will not need approval.

Changes that need to be made by the awarding body

Major changes

Anything beyond minor changes that may impact on the statutory test in the approvals criteria. These may include:  

  • any changes that will impact on the qualification’s coverage of knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) in the occupational standard and will therefore impact on the ability to meet the Institute’s criteria
  • any changes to the assessment methods of the higher technical qualification
  • substantial changes to any additional occupationally relevant content in the qualification (i.e. not been aligned to the occupational standard)

Minor changes 

Which do not impact on the content of the qualification including:  

  • correcting typos in the qualification
  • updating names of components of the qualification
  • updating definitions in the qualification
  • making clarifications in the qualification
  • making language changes in the qualification

Awarding bodies should submit changes as required. The Institute will aim to respond in around 8 weeks or will make clear in advance if longer is required. Further detail will be provided in due course.

Changes following a revision to an occupational standard

Occupational standards are revised from time to time by employers. Some of these revisions will be led by employers (e.g. due to changes in technology or practice) and some will be initiated by the Institute as part of regular reviews of standards. The Institute will inform awarding bodies of any proposed revisions. There will be two types of changes resulting from revisions:

  • changes to the content standard
    • For example, the addition, removal or changes to knowledge, skills, and behaviour statements. These changes reflect developments in how employers define competence in this occupation
  • occupation changes
    • These could occur if the occupation is no longer recognised by employers or has significantly changed and could result in a standard being withdrawn or amalgamated with another

The Institute will expect content changes to be made and submitted for approval within a year of a revised standard being published and awarding body informed. The newly approved qualification should then be taught as soon as possible, in line with the awarding body’s usual best practice (e.g. allowing providers at least a year with the new materials).  

We will discuss more complicated changes with the relevant awarding bodies on a case by case basis. This will include the timetable for withdrawing approval from the qualification if an occupational standard is to be entirely withdrawn.

Examples

Scenario 1

A qualification and standard do not require any changes from the original approval to the point of review.ApproachLight touch process to enable approval to continue.

Scenario 2

An awarding body needs to make changes in the first year of approval, but there are no changes to the standard.ApproachThe awarding body obtains Institute approval for the changes and implements them in line with their usual best practice. This can be taken into account at the review point.

Scenario 3

There are no changes to the qualification or standard prior to the review point, but the awarding body needs to make changes in the final year of the original approval period. There are no changes to the standard.ApproachThe awarding body obtains Institute approval for the changes. The new approval period starts, and the awarding body implements the changes in line with their usual best practice.

Scenario 4

Employers revise a standard and republish in the second year of approval. The changes are internal content changes.ApproachThe awarding body has a year to update the qualification and submit to the Institute for approval. Once approved, the awarding body implements the revised qualification in line with their usual best practice. If there is a review point in the meantime, the review is subject to the completion of the changes.

Scenario 5

Employers identify that a standard is based on an occupation that has changed and needs to be withdrawn.ApproachInstitute identify when the standard will be withdrawn and agree on a point for withdrawal of approval for the qualification. This will need to take into account any review point.