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Qualifications and Assessment: Regulation and Development

Volume 702: debated on Tuesday 24 June 2008

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families (Jim Knight) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In December, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills and I published a consultation document, Confidence in Standards: Regulating and developing qualifications and assessment (Cm 7281). We detailed plans for the creation of a new independent regulator of qualifications and tests for England—the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual), and the evolution of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) into a development agency for curriculum, assessment and qualifications.

The consultation finished in March, and in a Statement to the House on 2 April I confirmed that the proposals had been generally well received and that we were therefore proceeding with these reforms, including bringing forward new legislation. We also confirmed that Ofqual was about to be set up in an interim form, using the QCA’s current regulatory powers. Ofqual was duly launched in its interim form on 8 April.

We have today published a further progress report, including a summary of the responses to the consultation—Confidence in Standards: regulating and developing qualifications and assessmentnext steps and confirmation of how in the light of comments we have decided to proceed. I have placed a copy in the House Library.

Ofqual will be a credible and clearly independent guardian of standards across the assessment and qualifications system, securing confidence in that system. Subject to legislation, it will become a regulator with even stronger powers to safeguard standards. The QCA, in its new form as the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA), will be able to focus on advising Ministers on the curriculum and on developing and delivering qualifications and assessments. These reforms have been widely welcomed, including in the responses to the consultation. They are the right thing to do and all will benefit—employers, higher education, the many and various players involved in delivering qualifications and—most important of all—the learners of all ages.