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Academic Progression Qualifications: Academic progression qualifications are level 2 qualifications designed to support students who are not ready to progress directly to level 3 academic study immediately after Key Stage 4.  They will ensure that post 16 students get the teaching and support they need to progress onto and succeed on to a level 3 course, such as A levels or mixed programmes.


Advanced British Standard (ABS): On 4 October, the Prime Minister announced his long-term plan for introducing the Advanced British Standard (ABS).  The ABS will be a new baccalaureate-style qualification framework for students aged 16-19 and will bring academic and technical pathways together into a single framework. For more information on ABS, please go here. For information on the consultation, please see here.

Our qualification reform will continue, including continuing to roll out T Levels and removing duplicative, low-quality courses, that do not deliver the skills employers need.


ABS consultation document. Published December 2023. Over the next decade, the government are seeking to introduce the Advanced British Standard (ABS), a new Baccalaureate-style qualification framework for 16-19 year-olds. This consultation document sets out proposals on the way the ABS could work seeking views to continue developing our approach for the ABS and how it is delivered. Found here.


Alternative Academic Qualifications (AAQs): AAQs are qualifications designed to be taught alongside A levels and with a clear and direct link to progression into further/higher education.


Alternative Academic Qualifications (AAQs)- Large: large AAQs are the same size as 2 or 3 A levels (720-1080 guided learning hours) and will typically be taken as the main part of a student’s study programme, or alongside 1 A level. Large AAQs will be approved in a limited range of subject areas where a T Level is not available and there is a need for a large academic qualification, providing a clear and direct progression link into higher education.


Alternative Academic Qualifications (AAQs)- Small: Small AAQs are the same size as 1 A level (150-430 guided learning hours) and are qualifications that can be taken in a mixed study programme alongside A levels.  Small AAQs will be approved for funding in subject areas that are strategically important (such as STEM, those supporting the NHS) and those that are less well-served by A levels, such as creative and performing arts or sport. Small AAQs will be a minimum of 40% assessment by examination.


Awarding Organisations (AOs): Refers to individual organisations that design, develop and assess qualifications but are not themselves education providers.


Basic Skills Qualifications: Reformed basic skills qualifications in English and maths at level 1 and entry level will be available for first teach from 2028.  Digital qualifications have been reformed separately.


Cycles: Refers to the order in which new qualifications will be submitted for approval and funded according to the new criteria. There are 4 cycles of reform;

Cycle 1 – qualifications funded from 2025.

Cycle 2 – qualifications funded from 2026.

Cycle 3 – qualifications funded from 2027.

Cycle 4 – qualifications funded from 2028.

Detail on subjects included in each cycle can be found in the Guide to the landscape.


Entry Level Qualifications: Entry level qualifications are available at three sub-levels - 1, 2 and 3. Students can progress from entry level 1 to entry level 3. Entry level qualifications will be considered for funding in cycle 3, for first teach in 2027, or cycle 4, for first teach in 2028.


ESOL: English for Speakers of Other Languages. Reformed ESOL skills for life qualifications at entry level to level 2 will be available for first teach from 2028.


Funding Manual: The funding manual is for awarding organisations who intend to submit reformed and new qualifications for approval in England. It includes the DfE’s funding approval criteria including:

  • DfE’s process to approve qualifications for funding including how and when qualifications will be reviewed.
  • How and when the moratorium on approving newly regulated qualifications for funding will change.
  • What will happen to qualifications currently approved for funding.
  • A summary of how funding approval outcomes will be reviewed.

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