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?
We split the project into two work streams: evaluating our current approach and reviewing alternative options by using the following methods:
A review of our current approach by ‘Regulatory Delivery’;
An internal evaluation of how well the current regulatory strategy fits our role;
A review of regulatory models and
An awarding body workshop, attended by 32 awarding bodies, to seek feedback.
This work took place between February and June this year.
What are the findings?
Our review has shown that there are reasons for change in order to better support our regulatory role.
The reasons for change
Framework accessibility and clarity - This relates to the volume, presentation and clarity of regulatory documents. Feedback suggested that some of the Conditions could be misinterpreted. We also identified the need to improve the way we link and present regulatory documentation.
Framework independence - The current Conditions form part of a framework which was developed for a different regulatory remit. Our Principal Aims relate to the reasonable needs of learners and public confidence in Wales for qualifications, as well as the qualification system. We think an independent framework is required to help us achieve this.
Framework review – Feedbackrecommended it was time to review the length, level of prescription and suitability of the Conditions since their implementation in 2011.
Stakeholder approach and engagement – As outlined inthe rationale for the Qualifications Wales Act (2015), engagement with stakeholders is important. We want to develop a collaborative approach to regulation where we all work to common goals. This was echoed by Qualifications Wales’s staff and stakeholders.
Process development and enhancement – The project identified processes that either required developing (as they related to new powers given through the Qualifications Wales Act) or processes for enhancement (identified by the awarding body workshop and internal analysis).
Regulatory stance and remit - As a new regulator, we need to clearly articulate our remit (particularly our role in relation to the inclusion of the wider qualification system and qualifications) and our stance as a regulator (with regards to providing advice and guidance).
What was the conclusion?
We have accepted that there is a need for change to help us strengthen our regulatory activities and to act independently to meet the needs of Wales. As a result, we believe we should adopt an outcomes-based regulatory framework.
Outcomes – Outcomes, agreed with stakeholders, will form the basis. This will:
- Reflect the shared goals of the education sector in Wales and support common aims;
- Incorporate the wider remit of Qualifications Wales;
- Enable further development of the framework and the approach;
- Allow us to respond to sector developments in accordance with the outcomes;
- Inform the Conditions.
Conditions - We will maintain the concept of the Conditions and review them with stakeholders, and anticipate that they may change. The Conditions will be mapped against the outcomes as part of a full review of the appropriateness (including removing unnecessary conditions, simplifying wording and redrafting to fit our remit, landscape and context), level of prescription, evidence requirement and clarity.
Good practice - We will look into identifying and sharing good practice approaches that are targeted and sector owned which support compliance.
Collaborative regulatory approach - Our approach to developing and maintaining the regulatory framework will be a combined effort between us and Awarding Bodies. By using this approach, we trust this will minimise regulatory burden for Awarding Bodies but not impact on the development of improvements to usability, compliance etc.
What are the next steps?
We will research outcomes based models and models for sharing good practice. This is a long term and phased project and we are still developing our thinking; timescales will be discussed with stakeholders when we have completed our preparatory work. We will post updates, so keep checking this page for further information.
How does this affect me?
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.
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.
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 email@example.com or look for updates in the Examiner newsletter or this page.