Industry tells government it's time to love our awarding bodies too – they are world class


Industry tells government it's time to love our awarding bodies too – they are world class

Thursday, 18 October 2018

17th October 2018. The 15th annual conference of the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) kicks off in Leicester 18th and 19th October, during #LoveOurColleges week.

The main theme this year is the future of high quality assessment and qualifications.

The conference takes place at a time when there are major challenges across the UK in terms of the reform of technical qualifications and apprenticeships, with regulatory divergence and burdens on FAB’s members increasing.

Speaking to a record breaking audience of 450 delegates (over two days) drawn from across the sector, Paul Eeles, chair of FAB, said:

“We should all be proud of what we do. And frankly, we should perhaps stop feeling the need to apologise for the crucial role that we play in underpinning the whole skills system.

“Awarding Bodies certified in England alone last year over 12.5 million learners, including over 6 million vocational and technical qualifications. In Wales, the corresponding figure was half-a-million; in Northern Ireland, nearly 200,000 and in Scotland it was nearly 88,000.

“Qualifications are like a currency; they are a store of value that can be exchanged by someone to get on in life – a passport to further and higher education; or a better job that comes with higher skills and more rewards.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the work we do as a sector transforms so many lives. We grow human capabilities and meet employers’ needs for higher productivity.

“Some of our qualifications, of course, have nothing to do with the labour market; but they provide those with special needs and other disadvantaged groups with a sense that they live in a society that formally recognises their achievements.”

On the issue of re-setting the industry’s relationship with government in Westminster, Mr Eeles said:

“Since the Wolf Review and for nearly a decade since we’ve been operating on the back foot. Advisers come and go; they receive various honours and peerages for the reports they produce; and we are invariably left to get on and implement what they have recommended.

“Indeed, if you believed everything you sometimes hear about the awarding sector, you would think we exist to generate worthless qualifications; or that we look to handouts from government.

“I want to state clearly on record, both these perceptions are wrong. They are part of a set of myths, that over time, like all myths, have become accepted as fact by policymakers.

“It is true there are thousands of VTQs regulated by ofqual in this country. But there are nearly 5 times more university degree courses.

“I would say politely to ministers, your real challenge is not the quantity of qualifications in the market, it is the quality of the workforce.

“Our shared challenge in this country is to improve productivity. And that will only happen, in my view, if we work more collaboratively and galvanise the expertise of the whole awarding and assessment sector, including the people gathered at our annual conference.

“Because outside advisers talking down a whole sector, is not going to be the way to get the best out of the people, who subsequently the success of these whole reforms will rely on.

“If there is an informed debate to be had about better regulation of the qualifications landscape, then let’s base these discussions on a set of transparent principles and real evidence. Not myths.

“The Federation I chair, and our members, want to work closely with the Department, the Institute, and our main regulators, in making these changes a success. Similarly, that goes for our government and regulatory partners in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, too.”

#LoveAOs #LoveQuals


Notes to editors:

The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) is the trade association for professional and technical awarding organisations. We represent over 120 awarding organisations who design, award and assess qualifications. FAB influences government policy on technical education throughout the United Kingdom, by providing a powerful voice for the sector in a time of rapid change.

For further details contact:

Karen Daws, Head of Operations and Membership at the Federation of Awarding Bodies, on 07843 370685 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..