AQA develops new Technical Awards to complement GCSEs

Thursday 14 Jan 2016

Updated 3 May 2016: the titles of two specifications have changed.

We're excited to be developing a new suite of qualifications that 14-16 year olds can study alongside their GCSEs.

Technical Awards are more practical in nature and provide students with knowledge and highly sought-after skills to prepare them for further study, apprenticeships and the workplace.

If approved by the Department of Education each Technical Award would be equivalent to a GCSE qualification and would count towards performance tables. They could then be included in progress 8 as part of the non-EBacc open group of subjects.

We are developing nine Technical Awards in the following subjects ready for first teaching from September 2017:

  • Children's Learning and Development
  • Fashion and Textiles
  • Visual Communication (formerly Packaging and Graphics)
  • Materials technology
  • Food and Catering
  • Health and Social Care
  • IT (formerly ICT)
  • Performing Arts
  • Sports Studies.

The Awards are being developed in partnership with teachers, employers and stakeholders to ensure that they prepare students for further study, apprenticeships and the workplace. Students with a Technical Award will be able to go on to study A-levels or vocational qualifications such as our Tech-levels.

We are also looking into the possibility of developing a STEM Technical Award.

We are working on the structure and assessments of these qualifications and will be able to provide more information on our plans in spring this year.

We will be working within new parameters set out by the Department for Education for all vocational qualifications at Key Stage 4, which affect all awarding bodies. All Technical Awards must:

  • contain at least 40% external assessment
  • include a significant amount of synoptic content and assessment
  • not have significant overlap with the content of GCSEs in EBacc subjects
  • be considered by post-16 providers as equal to GCSEs in fulfilling the entry requirements for a range of courses
  • be graded as a minimum Pass/Merit/Distinction or similar
  • be a minimum of 120 GLH but, regardless of their size, they will only ever count as equivalent to one GCSE in performance tables
  • complement and support GCSEs, and not be seen as a replacement.

You can read the technical guidance set out by the DfE.

If you'd like to be kept informed about the development of our Technical Awards, please sign up for updates.