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Qualification reforms NETT
SPA National Expert Think Tank on qualification and curriculum reforms
The next few admissions cycles will see a period of continuous change in UK applicants' entry qualifications, including substantial reforms to A levels and GCSEs across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the continued bedding in of Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland, changes to the assessment and structure of the BTEC, the introduction of Core Maths qualifications in England, and new approaches to vocational qualifications in England and Wales.
In 2014/15 SPA convened a National Expert Think Tank (NETT), consisting of practitioners from ten HE providers plus a UCAS representative, to consider the challenges that curriculum and qualification reforms present to HE providers and to fair admissions in particular.
Members of the NETT group conducted research in preparation for a two-day residential during which they identified and developed a number of key resources to support HE providers in engaging with qualification reforms, including:
- Key considerations for qualification reforms and HE admissions to support HE providers in developing their own approaches to the forthcoming (and any future) qualification reforms.
- Template operational timeline to help HE providers ensure they are on track with their planning for qualification reform and the UCAS Tariff switchover.
- Template staff survey for HE providers to investigate the level of understanding of, and engagement with, qualification and curriculum reform within their own institution.
- Good practice recommendation that all HE providers publish a qualification reform statement confirming how they will respond to the changing qualification landscape in the UK and ensure a fair approach for all applicants, and guidance on the areas that could be addressed by such statements.
- List of useful resources for HE providers from different sources including NETT research, HE providers, UCAS, Awarding Organisations and school groups.
In addition, UCAS has produced a wide range of resources on qualifications and qualification reforms to support HE providers, teachers and advisers, which are available through the UCAS website:
- Qualifications resources for HEPs (log-in required)
- Qualification reforms resources for teachers and advisers
HE providers recognise the challenges the qualification reforms also present to schools and colleges. In the changing qualification landscape, an applicant's reference will play an increasingly important role in providing HE providers with information on the qualification programme an applicant offers. Members of the NETT created guidance on what HE providers would like to know from school and college references.
SPA is indebted to the members of the NETT for their time, effort and contributions, and to their institutions for supporting their work in this collaborative project.