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Regulatory requirements

Once recognised, all awarding organisations must comply with our regulatory requirements – the standards and rules we set for designing, delivering and awarding regulated qualifications – on an ongoing basis.

Because we take a risk-based approach to regulation, we target our work (including regulatory requirements) where it is most needed. This means that different requirements could apply to different qualifications, or to different awarding organisations.

In practice, the way we have structured our regulatory requirements means that there are two main types of requirements:

  • requirements which apply to all awarding organisations, and all qualifications; and
  • qualification-specific requirements, which apply to particular types of qualification.

We also sometimes impose requirements on individual awarding organisations; we call these requirements Special Conditions. For example, we might choose to apply a special condition to make sure an awarding organisation follows through on commitments they made when applying for recognition.

general-conditions-of-recognitionRequirements for all awarding organisations and all qualifications

Our General Conditions of Recognition set out requirements which apply to all awarding organisations and qualifications. They are supported by a suite of formal Regulatory Documents, which set out some qualification-specific requirements (set out in more detail below), and more detailed requirements for exam certificates and the use of the Ofqual logo.

We have also published guidance designed to help awarding organisations understand the types of behaviour and practice that will indicate whether or not they are complying with the General Conditions of Recognition.

Requirements Guidance
General Conditions of Recognition (November 2014)

Guidance to the General Conditions of Recognition (August 2014)
In addition to this statutory guidance, we have also published non-statutory guidance, in the form of a series of Frequently Asked Questions:

From time to time, we make changes to these documents; the current versions set out above replace all previous versions of these documents.

We last updated the General Conditions in November 2014, and the statutory guidance which supports it in August 2014.

Qualification-specific requirements

For some qualifications, we have set additional rules and standards which awarding organisations must comply with. In some cases these additional rules and standards apply to all qualifications of a particular type (for example, all linear A levels and AS qualifications); in other cases they apply only to individual qualifications (for example, Functional Skills English). These qualification-specific requirements are set out either in additional General Conditions, or in the documents on our ‘Regulatory Documents List’.

As part of our ongoing reforms to both GCSEs and A levels/AS qualifications, we have published the new requirements which will apply to GCSEs (graded 9 to 1) and linear A levels and AS qualifications which will be taught in selected subjects from September 2015. These new requirements are separate from (and different to) the requirements for existing GCSEs (graded A* to G) and modular A levels/AS qualifications.

We have set out qualification-specific requirements for the following qualifications:

Other requirements

We require awarding organisations that award A levels and AS qualifications, GCSEs and Level 1 and 2 Certificates (also known as IGCSEs) to participate in our data exchange process. We use the data exchange to collect statistical information about actual and predicted grades, which help us monitor qualification standards.

Section 96 the Equality Act 2010 also gives us powers to set out rules which govern the reasonable adjustments that can be made available to disabled candidates taking certain general qualifications in England (including GCSEs and A levels). This helps us ensure that qualifications are both accessible, and provide a fair and reliable measure of the knowledge, skills and understanding of all candidates.

We have set out our current rules in our Specifications in Relation to the Reasonable Adjustment of General Qualifications (Dec 2011). These apply to the following qualifications:

  • All GCSEs and Entry level certificates in GCSE subjects;
  • All A levels and AS qualifications, as well as Advanced Extension Awards and Cambridge Pre-U qualifications;
  • Functional Skills, Key Skills and Free Standing Mathematics qualifications
  • Principal Learning and Project qualifications;
  • General National Vocational Qualifications;
  • Certificates in Adult Literacy and Adult Numeracy;
  • Cambridge International Certificates, International Baccalaureate Diplomas and Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification Core Certificates.