Thank you for engaging in the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education approval process for technical qualifications at level 2.   

For cycle 2, our main submission window will be 23 September – 4 October 2024. 

Submissions will not be accepted outside of this window.  If IfATE is satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for the awarding body to meet the deadline due to: 

  • technical failure (either at the AB or IfATE end) 
  • exceptional circumstances e.g., bereavement, natural disaster, etc 

The awarding body should communicate this at the time of the event, with evidence, in order for their submission to be considered. 

Qualification submissions will be accepted within these routes:  

  • agriculture, environmental and animal care 
  • business and administration 
  • care services 
  • creative and design 
  • catering and hospitality 
  • hair and beauty 
  • legal, finance and accounting 
  • protective services 
  • sales, marketing and procurement 
  • transport and logistics 

In addition, qualifications not submitted in cycle 1 may be accepted in cycle 2 in the following routes: 

  • construction and the built environment 
  • education and childcare 
  • engineering and manufacturing   
  • health and science   

Applicants will be able to submit proposed level 2 technical qualifications that fall under the above routes and are within one of the following categories:  

Resources you may find useful: 


1. The post-16 skills system

As set out in DfE’s overview of the reforms, all new IfATE-approved technical qualifications will be approved against an IfATE defined technical qualification category. Each category is distinct, with its own core aim and purpose statement, as well as its own bespoke criteria for approval.  

Please also refer to Ofqual's general conditions of recognition which underpin the regulation of most qualifications, including strengthened technical qualifications.   


2. Applying for technical qualification approval

This page explains how to apply for approval.  

Qualification submissions must be linked to the occupational standards and, where relevant, pre-defined specialist areas in scope so that your application can be considered appropriately. If applicants wish to develop an additional specialist qualification that does not align to IfATE’s list of pre-defined specialist areas, they will be required to submit a proposal stage form. See further information on the proposal stage process. 

IfATE approval of technical qualifications confers eligibility to be considered for Department for Education funding approval. Applicants should ensure that they are familiar with DfE funding requirements and how this will affect the funding available for submitted technical qualifications.   


3. Criteria for approval

Bespoke criteria for approval  are provided for each category. You will also need to consult the relevant Ofqual qualification-level conditions to make sure that your application meets the requirements of both organisations.    

An essential part of the approval process will be IfATE’s assessment of the evidence of employer demand for a submitted qualification. Please read the requirements for evidence of employer engagement to make sure that your application meets the expectations required. With regards to assessment, you can find full details of the necessary sample assessment materials  listed in the criteria documents.  


4. Seeking advice and support

IfATE colleagues are available to support you throughout the pre-submission and submission approval process. Our support section allows you to access pre-recorded webinars and find details on how to book an online support session. If you are planning to submit an application, we strongly recommend that you book an online support session or email us for further assistance.


5. Submitting an application

We use a series of online forms to gather the information needed to make our decision about whether to approve a qualification.   

Firstly, we ask applicants to complete the Registration Form with the details of the technical qualifications that they intend to submit in the approvals cycle. This enables IfATE to manage applications as efficiently as possible, design tailored support sessions and provide further clarity and guidance. The window for completing this form is 19 February – 23 February 2024

Secondly, for additional specialist qualifications that do not align with IfATE’s predefined list, please use the Proposal Stage Form to send us the requested information. This form will be live between 4 March and 15 March 2024.  

An offline copy of our main submission form can be found in the support section of our website in early 2024 and will also be linked on the Single Access Point. The main submission form is where qualification specifications, sample assessment materials, evidence of employer engagement and all other requested documents will be submitted.   The main submission window will be 23 September – 4 October 2024. 


6. Roles in the approval process

Applicants submit qualifications for approval, ensuring submissions meet IfATE’s criteria and are supported by appropriate evidence. They work with IfATE to address any feedback throughout the approvals process. 

IfATE Officials review qualifications against IfATE’s approvals criteria and liaise with applicants throughout the approvals process. They prepare and present advice to internal boards and committees. 

Ofqual confirms recognition and registration requirements are met and provides advice to IfATE on the qualifications or organisations it regulates. 

Statutory Regulators may advise IfATE about any relevant ongoing or impending regulatory action into a relevant qualification, Awarding Body, Higher Education provider or Higher Education Institution. When making approvals decisions, IfATE will have due regard to this advice. 

Peer Reviewers are occupational experts who may be asked by IfATE to provide specific employer insight on technical education. Evidence obtained is included in the advice presented to internal boards and committees. 

Employer route panels provide the employer voice in the approvals process and ensure qualifications meet employer needs. Route panels review advice provided by IfATE Officials and ensure that IfATE’s criteria takes employer insight into account.  

Approvals Committee provides accountability to ensure approval criteria has been applied and due diligence has been followed. The Approvals Committee delegates authority for specific approval activities to suitably qualified and experienced individuals. The Approvals Committee has the final sign-off for products including apprenticeships, HTQs and T Levels.


7. Obtaining scope of recognition and IfATE's approvals process

Applicants must be recognised by Ofqual to offer qualifications in the relevant Sector Subject Area (SSA). This is called the “scope of recognition”. Where they are not, they will need to gain the necessary recognition from Ofqual. They should do this before they send IfATE a submission for approval. 

Some applicants may already have engaged in the process and be awaiting the outcome of a live application for Ofqual recognition. In these cases, IfATE may agree to review a submission for approval. Final approval cannot be considered until Ofqual recognises an applicant to offer qualifications in the relevant SSA. IfATE will inform applicants of the timetable for approval decisions once a submission has been made. Ofqual has its own process and timescales for recognition. There is no guarantee that Ofqual will meet requests to give or extend the scope of its recognition by a specific time. Applicants should contact Ofqual as early as possible to avoid delays. 

If IfATE advises an applicant to seek Ofqual recognition for a specific SSA, the applicant will need to follow Ofqual’s process. If they do not do this, IfATE is likely to refuse to review a submission for approval. 

If Ofqual rejects an application for SSA recognition, IfATE will stop reviewing the application. In this case, IfATE cannot give approval to the submission. However, it may be possible to ask IfATE to consider the application in a future cycle. 


8. Further guidance on the approval process

At the end of the approval process, applicants will be issued an approval decision which determines the eligibility of their technical qualification to be considered for public funding. If IfATE approves a technical qualification, then the Department for Education will undertake a funding approval review. DfE have published their funding requirements. This is a separate funding approval decision point, owned by DfE.  

IfATE aims to get decisions right first time, every time. However, we know that sometimes people may disagree with how we reached that decision. Therefore, in certain circumstances we will review our decision-making process. This is known as procedural review. If you disagree with a final IfATE decision, you may be able to seek procedural review and should consult the guidance available on our procedural review page. 


9. Future cycles

Please note that this section is subject to change and further information will be released in late 2024

For cycle 3, our submission window will open in summer 2025. Our current intention is to accept qualification submissions for cross-cutting qualifications only across all routes in cycle 3. 


Published 9 November 2023
Last updated 12 January 2024
(MC, NS)