Regulatory Strategy Project

As a new organisation we are reviewing our regulatory strategy to identify whether the current approach is effective and appropriate, or whether we should be applying an alternative method.

What is a Regulatory Strategy?

Our regulatory strategy refers to the way in which we regulate and work with Awarding Bodies, on behalf of learners. It consists of the framework (we are currently working to a rules-based model, as reflected in the Standard Conditions of Recognition) and the approach we take (e.g. sectoral reviews, statements of compliance and the way we engage with stakeholders).

Why is it being reviewed?

We’ve taken the opportunity to review our regulatory strategy, as it was originally adopted from the Welsh Government, and started the project to see if change is necessary.

What has been done so far?

To summarise, we split the project into two work streams: evaluating our current approach and reviewing alternative options. After extensive research and engagement with stakeholders (an overview of the workshop we held with Awarding Bodies last year can be found by clicking the page in the left hand side menu), we found there were reasons for change in order to better support our regulatory role and to act independently to meet the needs of Wales. As a result, we believe we should adopt an outcomes-based regulatory framework. More information on the project’s early stages can be found by clicking the page in the left hand side menu.

Earlier this year, we decided to publish high level, non-prescriptive regulatory outcomes designed to guide regulation and frame our broader regulatory approach. These outcomes are drafted as a representation of the shared goals of Qualifications Wales and Awarding Bodies. We went to consultation on the proposed wording for the outcomes and mapped the existing Conditions to those outcomes (more information can be found by clicking the page in the left hand side menu). We will publish a report on the finding of this consultation shortly.

Reviewing the Conditions: the next step

We are proposing to undertake a review of our Conditions of Recognition, with the aim of making the Conditions as accessible as possible to awarding bodies while ensuring they enable us as the regulator to execute our regulatory functions. This review was supported by awarding bodies who participated in our Regulatory Strategy Project.

The project also highlighted awarding bodies’ eagerness for qualifications regulators across the UK to work collaboratively to avoid unnecessary divergence of regulatory requirements and, whilst recognising that it is not possible in all circumstances, aiming that any revisions to Conditions are aligned as much as possible. With this in mind, Ofqual, the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England, and CCEA in Northern Ireland will be participating in the upcoming Review of Conditions and will be represented at the meetings with awarding bodies that commence in October.

The review will focus on areas such as clarity and levels of prescriptiveness of the Conditions and will be carried out by dividing the sections of the Conditions into the following groups: ABC, DEF and GHI. We do not consider it necessary to carry out a specific review of section J as this is the section holding the definitions of terms used throughout the Conditions.

The review is intended to take place between autumn 2017 and autumn 2018, we aim to review each group of conditions within three to four months. Subsequently, we plan to hold a twelve-week public consultation on any possible changes to the Conditions with a view to publishing a revised version of the Conditions in Spring 2019, to be effective from September 2019.

As part of the review, we are seeking awarding bodies’ views on what Conditions or groups of Conditions that are of interest or that you believe we should prioritise, and your reasons for this.

Awarding bodies can access the online questionnaire on Conditions A, B and C by clicking this link. Please can you complete the questionnaire by 30 September 2017.

 

How does this affect me?

Awarding Bodies

We want to involve Awarding Bodies and intend to work with them closely as we develop outcomes and review conditions. Together, we will collect as much feedback as we can and ensure timings work.

Other Regulators

We will continue to work with other regulators in the UK on any major changes that could affect the qualifications system in Wales or elsewhere in the UK. We want to ensure ongoing comparability and protection of portability for qualifications, as well as freedom of movement for learners through the different systems. We want to minimise regulatory burden for awarding bodies, wherever possible.

Learners

Improving the framework helps us focus on the needs for learners in Wales and to integrate good practice in the qualifications system.

 

How can I get further information on this project?

Please contact policy@qualificationswales.org or look for updates in the Examiner newsletter or this page.