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These are all different terms that are used to describe the role of an organisation than designs, develops, delivers and awards the recognition of learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and/or competences) of an individual following an assessment and quality assurance process that is valued by employers, learners or stakeholders.
These organisations can be registered charities, chartered institutes, commercial businesses, employers who have established their own awarding body, small sector specific bodies or large cross-sectoral bodies.
They are experts in developing high quality qualifications that meet the needs of employers and learners. They approve centres and work with them to ensure high quality delivery of qualifications and they carry out activity designed to assure the quality of the qualifications awarded. They also develop innovative products and services to support their centres and learners.
Many awarding bodies (over 160) in the UK are recognised by Ofqual (for England), CCEA (for Northern Ireland), Welsh Government (for Wales) and/or SQA (for Scotland).
In England and Northern Ireland recognised awarding bodies must meet the Conditions of Recognition. Guidance on how to meet these conditions can be found on Ofqual's website for England and CCEA's website for Northern Ireland.
In Scotland recognised awarding bodies must meet SQA’s Regulatory Principles and Directives. Further information on meeting these requirements can be found on SQA's website.
For many awarding bodies, recognition by one of the UK regulators will be the appropriate quality mark for their organisation. For others it might be QAA, ISO or oversight by a professional regulator.