By, Caroline Newton, Discovery Learning Tutor
At present, it is hard to understand all the different types of qualification that learners hold—what level they are, how long they take to complete, what content they cover, and how they compare to other qualifications. A new framework was required to help present qualifications in a way that is easy to understand and measure. The QCF is that new framework responsible for recognising and accrediting qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Its role is to set the standard for the skills and knowledge the qualifications require and it also classes them at a particular Level. Skills Active and REPs are the fitness industry professional bodies that set the relevant fitness qualifications at the correct level. So, for example; Personal Trainer Qualification is set at Level 3, Gym Instructor, Exercise to Music Instructor and Health Related Exercise for Children Instructor Qualifications are Level 2. All validated UK fitness qualifications will now be linked to the QCF and they must comply with certain criteria such as learning hours and educational standard. The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) regulates individuals’ qualifications, and ensures they are appropriate and recognised. The highest level which an individual can achieve in the fitness level is currently Level 4. The Table below explains what these levels mean, as they can be quite confusing:
- GCSEs (grade A*- C) = Level 2
- GCE A levels = Level 3
- HNC = Level 4
- HND or foundation degree = Level 5
- Honours degree = Level 6
- Masters (Post Graduate) = Level 7
- PhD = Level 8
Fitness courses can be provided as an Award, a Certificate or a Diploma depending upon the number of credits achieved. Every unit and qualification in the framework will have a credit value (one credit represents 10 hours, showing how much time it takes to complete) and a level between Entry level and level 8 (showing how difficult it is).
There are three sizes of qualifications in the QCF:
- Awards (1 to 12 credits)
- Certificates (13 to 36 credits)
- Diplomas (37 credits or more).
So in the new framework you can have a fitness award at level 1 or an award at level 4. This is because the qualification type ‘award, certificate, diploma’ represents the size of a qualification, not how difficult it is. The level represents how difficult it is. This is something that can easily be confused.
Each qualification title contains the following:
- the level of the qualification (from Entry level at the bottom to level 8 at the top)
- the size of qualification (award/certificate/diploma)
- details indicating the content of the qualification.
So when choosing your qualifications, simply look at the title of a fitness qualification and you will be able to see how difficult it is, how long it will take the average learner to complete, and its general content.
But if this has not been explained to you before – it is very difficult to know what you are getting yourself into!