The QCF is unit-based qualification framework supported by a system of credit accumulation and transfer.
The achievements of learners are expressed through credit, indicating the size of the unit or qualification, and by level, indicating the challenge. Learners are able to accumulate or transfer their credit as they progress up or across the framework.
The QCF is applicable to England, Wales and Northern Ireland; in Wales, it forms part of the wider Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW).
Scotland already has its own Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) which encompasses a wide range of learning provision including academic qualifications, SVQs and employer devised training programmes.
Structure of the QCF
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). All units and qualifications within the QCF will be based on NOS as is the case with NVQs, however, QCF units will be written in the form of learning outcomes. Additionally, QCF units can be written which separately focus on the ‘skills’ and the ‘knowledge’ from within the same NOS.
There are three sizes of qualifications in the QCF:
Awards (1 to 12 credits)
Certificates (13 to 36 credits)
Diplomas (37 credits or more)
For example, in the QCF, it is possible to have an Award between level 1 and level 8. This is because the qualification type; ‘award, certificate or diploma’ represents the size of a qualification, not how difficult it is.
Therefore, each qualification title will contain 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