Qualifications are offered by Awarding Organisations. They provide evidence of achievement at a specified level of attainment in a chosen subject, enabling candidates to either progress further within the same discipline or to gain additional knowledge, skills and understanding for the purposes of personal growth and learning. All qualifications are published in the format of a syllabus or specification which contains details of the outcomes, assessment methods and criteria against which candidates' levels of attainment are measured.
In England, the organisation charged with overseeing qualifications is the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). Many CDET Awarding Organisations are recognised by Ofqual and its partners in Wales and Northern Ireland. Together with CDET, they participate in a range of regulatory forums with the purpose of contributing to national initiatives and to improving consistency and public understanding of graded examinations and diplomas.
Qualifications vary across countries, but they are remarkably similar in what they tell us about the person who has achieved them, for example whether s/he is ready for a college/higher education course, or for a first skilled job. There are some clear stages people move through in education, training and work that are common to most countries.
Further, the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) maps different countries' national qualification systems around a common European reference. This means that qualifications recognised by Ofqual are now given two Level references on the Register of Regulated Qualifications. The first Level refers to the appropriate placement within the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England and the second to a Level within the EQF.
Most CDET member awarding organisations offer graded examinations, primarily in dance, musical theatre and the related performing arts.
Graded examinations are a series of qualifications that enable candidates, teachers, parents/carers and employers to measure performers’ achievement from beginner level up to a standard of proficiency and artistry appropriate for entry to higher education. These examinations support learners at all levels to develop and display their skills progressively, demonstrating genuine command of the competences required for educational, vocational and/or social purposes. They also provide a structure and sequence for teaching and monitoring individual achievement, leading at each grade to independent assessment of the candidate by an external examiner.
Graded examinations encourage artistic activity, develop high standards of performance, perception, creativity, knowledge and understanding, and reward progress and achievement. Additionally, they provide a progression route to Diploma qualifications at RQF Level 4 and above. Grades 6 to 8 are included within the UCAS Tariff and therefore contribute towards a student's score of UCAS points when he or she applies for entry to UK Higher education.