Current policy and guidance

This page includes:

Current publications by DfE

Guide to the post-16 qualifications landscape at level 3 and below for 2025 and beyond. This document can be found here. This guide provides a high-level overview of the post-16 qualifications landscape from 2025 onwards, including; changes to the funding approval process and criteria, subjects that will be considered for funding, the implications for the availability of qualifications for teaching in England. Supporting materials can be found in the curriculum planning and support section here


Timeline for the approval of post-16 qualifications at level 2 and at level 3 for 2025. Alongside the guide are timelines showing the approval process of qualifications submitted in cycle 1. Found here. This is useful for awarding organisations (AOs) but also for providers to understand the process involved in approving new qualifications. 


Guidance on post-16 qualifications at level 2 and below from spring 2023, found here. This gives further information and guidance around level 2 and below qualifications in the future landscape. Useful for awarding organisations AOs and providers to understand approval categories, including information about Ofqual and IfATE’s regulations and standards. 


Qualifications funding approval manual: from August 2025. This is found here. This is for awarding organisations who intend to submit level 3 or level 2 qualifications for first teach in 2025 or 2026. It sets out the criteria and processes involved. 


Awarding organisations: submitting qualifications for approval. A single access point for awarding organisation to submit qualifications for approval, found here. This directs you to several documents with further guidance for awarding organisations to use before submitting qualifications.


Information for providers on qualifications available in the future

Phase 1: List of qualifications with no and low publicly funded enrolments that had funding removed from 01 August 2022. Found here. 

Phase 2: Lists of qualifications that will have funding withdrawn because they overlap with T Levels.

    1. Final list of qualifications overlapping with T Levels in waves 1 and 2, found here. Funding will be withdrawn from these qualifications from 1 August 2024. Wave 1 and 2 T Levels include health and science, construction and the built environment, digital and education and childcare.
    2. List of qualifications overlapping with T Levels in wave 3, found here. Funding will be withdrawn from these qualifications from 1 August 2025. Wave 3 T Levels include business and administration, engineering and manufacturing and finance and accounting.
    3. Provisional list of qualifications overlapping with T Levels in wave 4, found here. Funding will be withdrawn from these qualifications from 1 August 2025. Wave 4 T Levels include agriculture, environmental and animal care, craft and design, legal and media, broadcast and production.
    4. The lists are in excel format, listing all qualifications and details and allows a filter option using the headings.
    5. Alongside the lists are impact assessments, which provide an overview of potential impacts resulting from the proposed removal of public funding approval from qualifications on the lists. 

Post-16 level 3 qualification submitted for funding approval from 1 August 2025. This page gives information about the range of reformed level 3 qualifications submitted by awarding organisations as part of cycle 1, found here. Published 9 January 2024. It should be noted that approval of these qualifications is subject to criteria so the final list of approved qualifications can be expected to contain some differences.


Reviews and the case for reform 

Review of Vocational Education- The Wolf Report, published in 2011 examines vocational education for 14-19- year olds. It found that the content of many qualifications was not valued by employers and that many courses offered very little value, offering no route to further education or prospects for meaningful employment. This review provides useful context on the reasoning behind the reforms and can be found here.

The Whitehead review of adult vocational qualifications, published in 2013. Found that a complex further education system meant that technical qualifications used by adults are often poor quality, lack employer involvement and have no clear identity. The report recommended a system in which employers and unions work in partnership with well-regulated awarding organisations and flexible training providers to design, develop and deliver qualifications that provide growth for employers and progression for learners. The review provides useful context on the reasoning behind the need for reforms to technical education, found here.

Sainsbury review of post 16 technical education, published in 2016. Lord Sainsbury’s independent panel set out its ambitious vision for technical education. It found that many individuals who have successfully completed qualifications remain poorly equipped to enter skilled work. It provides useful context on the reasoning behind the reforms and the vision for the future, found here. 

The Augar review, published in 2019. Reviewing post-18 education and funding, found that England needs a stronger technical education system at below degree levels that increases opportunities, supports disadvantaged students and addresses structural skill shortages, found here.

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