Technical Awards announcement and updated list of titles

Published 6th September 2017

On the  4th September 2017, the DfE  published its updated list of technical and vocational qualifications approved for contributing to the 2019 performance tables. 

Technical Awards are developed by Awarding Organisations (AOs) and other bodies and have to meet criteria set by Ofqal.  In addition, they are scrutinised by DfE with three submission dates scheduled each year. This was the final round with the next not being until 2018.

We are aware that some schools have been eagerly awaiting the approval of four specific awards being developed by AQA:

  • Fashion and Textiles
  • Material Technology
  • Visual Communication
  • Food and Catering

AQA have released a statement on their website confirming that these qualifications, amongst others, have not been approved for performance points. 

However, although they won’t be included in performance tables for 2019, AQA have confirmed that they will be offering certification in the these awards, in their current form, for this series.

We do not know how many schools this news has affected, although we are aware that a significant number had assumed that these qualifications would be approved and have therefore included them within their KS4 option choices. Some have already started teaching the specifications and have had to make difficult decisions, in some cases having to inform students and parents of their decision not to continue teaching them. 

The Design and Technology Association continues to work closely with members and with AQA, advising schools that have been affected.

We will continue to keep members posted on the outcome of these discussions. 

Until next year schools affected need to decide how they are going to move forward. For those schools who feel unable to continue teaching the Technical Awards until such time as they contribute to performance measures, our advice has been to adopt one of the following courses of action. 

  1. Explore the list of alternative Level 1 and 2 qualifications, including Technical Awards offered by other Awarding Organisations. Whilst none of these will be direct replacements for the AQA Awards, they may provide a suitable alternative. As always, we expect teachers to make decisions based on the needs of their learners and the resources available in the schools. (Further information on the range of Awards available is included in the September 2017 issue of Practice.)
  2. Use the new single title Design and Technology GCSE and develop specific routes through it concentrating on a particular material group. The GCSE qualification is designed to accommodate the majority of student ability and will continue to be the main qualification taken in other curriculum areas. (The Association is running courses to help teachers with the changed approach required – do let us know if you’d like more information.)

The Design and Technology Association is committed to supporting its members develop their portfolio of courses on offer, including Technical Awards and we will continue to provide support and advice to them as appropriate.  We are exploring with AOs, how we might best work with them to provide that support and help to develop opportunities for young people and the professionals who teach them.


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