Qualifications in Northern Ireland
This section is a guide to what qualifications you could deliver. The information on this page is for Northern Ireland – see equivalent info for England, Scotland, and Wales. A section with a glossary and background info follows the list of qualifications.
To give a quick example, see this video of Shane Carey of Reprezent, talking about what qualifications they offer.
Courses and qualifications
There are many courses which community radio stations can, and do, effectively deliver, using radio to develop a range of skills – not only media and broadcasting skills but others such as employability. Here in this toolkit we have identified a range of courses – some radio specific and others which can use radio to meet the outcomes. We have looked at courses which can be delivered within a range of budgets, and which have different requirements for delivery.
The full database of qualifications recognised by Ofqual can be found, and searched, at ‘The Register’: http://register.ofqual.gov.uk/Qualification
An extended list of qualifications that could be considered by community radio stations can be found on the linked spreadsheet (Excel), showing courses in:
- Creative & Media
- Community work
You could also search the Register for other subjects, like:
- IT (or ICT) Skills
- ESOL (or ESOL Skills for Life)
When choosing a qualification suitable to deliver you will need to consider these things – from yours and your learners’ perspective:
- Who are the learners, and what do they need?
- Is the qualification suitable for the learner’s age, and level?
- Are there any entry requirements for this course?
- What is the duration of the course?
- What method of assessment will need to be used?
- Do I have the resources, space, trainers, etc I need to deliver the course?
Radio specific Courses
These courses are designed to help develop a career in the radio industry. There may be specific entry requirements for some of the higher level courses. There are different qualifications available to suit the needs of you and your learners.
|Name of course||Guided Learning Hours||Credits||Level||Course brief|
|NCFE Level 1 Award in Radio Production||50||5||1||Make an audio recording for a radio production|
|ABC Level 2 Certificate Preparing to work in Creative Media||180-195||24||2||Awareness of Employment, health and safety, and working in creative industries|
|NCFE Level 2Certificate in Radio Production||90||13||2||Make an audio recording for a radio production.Plus additional optional units|
|NOCN Level 3 Certificate in Progression (QCF)||210||30||3||Selection of units which cover key skills and can include communication and radio|
|Edexcel BTEC Level 3 Certificate in Creative Media Production (Radio) (QCF)||180||30||3||Broadly equivalent to one GCE AS Level.The course has 3 mandatory units:
Plus optional units to the value of 19 credits
|City & Guilds Level 1 Award in ‘Employability and Personal Development’||57-72||9||1|
|City & Guilds Level 1 Award in ‘Personal Development and Contributing to the Community’||56-71||9||1|
|City & Guilds Level 1 Certificate in ‘Personal Development and Contributing to the Community’||91-119||15||1|
|NCFE Level 1 Award in Personal Achievement||1||http://www.ncfe.org.uk/qualification-search/ncfe-level-1-award-in-personal-achievement-602.aspx|
|Arts Award (Bronze)||40 (approx.)||1|
|Arts Award (Silver)||60 (approx.)||2||2 Units: 1) arts practice and 2) arts leadership|
Life Skills and employability qualifications support the development of personal skills for working, learning and living, and provide a useful base for further learning. Life Skills courses help with everyday activities, such as communicating, parenting, or healthy eating, while other courses cover work and employability skills, and can support with seeking employment and building a CV. The content of these courses allow for radio to be used as a medium through which learning outcomes can be achieved, and provide an innovative approach which other training providers may not offer. See also ‘training for employability‘.
City & Guilds Award/Certificate/Diploma in ‘Employability and Personal Development’
There are a variety of City & Guilds ‘employability and personal development’ qualifications at different levels.
Eg. Level 1 Award
Guided Learning Hours: 57 – 72 (dependent upon units chosen)
The level 1 award in Employability and personal development is suitable for learners aged 14+. It is put together by choosing from a list of units covering a range of subjects, finding the right units suitable for your group and combining these to give the right credit value for an award. These courses are great to use with communities and hard to reach groups.
City & Guilds Award/Certificate in ‘Personal Development and Contributing to the Community’
Both Award and Certificate are available at either of two levels: Entry level 3 or Level 1
All are on the QCF (thus funded through QCF funding structures)
|Qualification type/level||Credits||Guided Learning Hours|
|Award (either Entry 3 or Level 1)||9||56 – 71|
|Certificate (either Entry 3 or Level 1)||15||91 – 119|
Courses specifically for young people and links to national curriculum
Radio projects and courses can be planned to meet key learning outcomes which are mentioned within the national curriculum across a variety of subjects. Planning lessons which clearly show how the student’s participation meets these learning outcomes can support and strengthen the offer of working in partnership within schools. Offering courses designed to support with the development of skills in English or Media Studies is a good place to start – but your potential offer need not be limited to these. There are also awards designed specifically for young people which can be used in community radio.
Arts Award can be based around any arts or media activity, and can be completed in a wide variety of settings – like youth clubs, arts centres, schools, colleges, theatres or community groups. There are no entry requirements, or time limit for completing the award, Arts Award can be suitable for young people aged 5 – 25 years. In order to deliver arts award you will need to attend the training days linked to the qualification you would like to deliver.
Arts Award Levels:
- Discover – http://www.artsaward.org.uk/site/?id=2300 (ages 5-25)
- Explore – http://www.artsaward.org.uk/site/?id=2301 (ages 7-25)
- Bronze – http://www.artsaward.org.uk/site/?id=65 (ages 11-25)
- Silver – http://www.artsaward.org.uk/site/?id=66 (ages 14-25)
- Gold – http://www.artsaward.org.uk/site/?id=67 (ages 16-25)
Arts Award Levels: Explore is at pre GCSE level, Bronze and Silver Arts Awards are at the same standard and therefore have the same level of difficulty as GCSE’s but are smaller in size. The Gold Award is at the same standard as A-levels but is the size of half an AS level. See level comparison chart at: http://www.artsaward.org.uk/site/?id=2056
Bronze is available to young people aged 11 to 25
Young people plan their work with an adviser, and keep a record by creating their own Arts Award portfolio. This portfolio might be, for example, a folder, sketchbook, video diary or a website.
Silver Arts Award has been designed for young people aged 14 to 25.
Silver Arts Award, a Level 2 qualification, has two units – Unit 1: arts practice and Unit 2: arts leadership. Doing Silver involves achieving an arts challenge, reviewing arts events, researching artists and arts organisations, and delivering an arts leadership project with other people. Young people plan their work with an adviser and keep a record by creating their own Arts Award portfolio. Young people can pick their own style of portfolio – e.g. a diary, video, website blog, etc.
Radio courses can be designed and offered to schools to meet the needs of key curriculum areas. A community radio station is a wealth of resources, potentially offering programmes to schools which support curriculum areas or offer enrichment activities to the pupils, and which can reciprocally generate income for the station. Radio-based work can be used to promote and develop key areas such as English Speaking and listening, Media Studies, Citizenship, etc.
Example: As part of the Connect:Transmit project, Bradford Community Broadcasting (BCB) worked with a local secondary school to fulfil the aims outlined in the Year 10 GCSE Media Studies syllabus. BCB worked with two cohorts of pupils to each produce a radio package and create a production portfolio that evidenced their learning process. The assessment of this work counted for thirty percent of the pupils’ GCSE Media Studies grade.
A (partial) list of radio-specific units can be found in the table below.
|Unit||Level||Credit||Weighted funding rate|
|Understanding how to Make a Radio Documentary Programme||Level 3||2||£112|
|Research audiences for radio||Level 3||4||£168|
|Write for radio||Level 3||6||£336|
|Developing Radio Interview Techniques||Level 3||3||£168|
|Developing Radio Production Skills||Level 3||3||£168|
|Talk and music radio production||Level 2||10||£504|
|Understanding the Radio Industry||Level 3||10||£504|
|Work effectively in radio||Level 3||6||£336|
|Know how to produce speech content for radio||Level 3||3||£168|
|Make an audio recording for a radio production||Level 1||2||£112|
|Explore employment opportunities in the radio industry||Level 1||1||£56|
|Understanding how to Make a Radio Magazine Programme||Level 3||2||£112|
|Radio Studies||Level 3||10||£504|
|Scriptwriting for Radio||Level 3||10||£504|
|Contribute to the creative process in radio||Level 3||4||£168|
|Write for multi-platform use in radio||Level 3||6||£336|
|Operate a radio studio||Level 3||6||£336|
|Use and develop the voice for radio||Level 3||3||£168|
|Edit digital audio for radio production||Level 2||3||£168|
|Prepare for employment in the radio industry||Level 2||2||£112|
|Factual Programme Production techniques for Radio||Level 3||10||£504|
|Pitch ideas for radio content||Level 3||3||£168|
|Develop and use radio journalism skills||Level 2||3||£168|
|Radio production technology||Level 2||3||£168|
There are a host of other units – more than we could possibly list here – but you could search the Ofqual register http://register.ofqual.gov.uk by keyword/level for specific units, which gives the unit details, as well as listing the qualifications which use this unit. Obvious keywords to try include ‘communication’, ‘media’, ‘IT’, ‘teamwork’, ‘employability’, ‘ESOL’ – and you will no doubt think of others more specific to your context.
Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes. The apprentice is an employee of the employer, and the training is usually provided by a training organisation. Training providers are inspected by Ofsted, and some training providers will subcontract some or all of their training to another organisation. Currently, training providers receive funding for apprenticeships from the SFA, though this is in the process of being restructured.
Apprenticeships are currently (at the time of putting this toolkit together) undergoing reform. They are being regarded by the current government as a key component of the skills sector, and funding for apprenticeships is being increased. The main changes underway are:
- Employers are being placed in a more central position with regards setting standards, and specifying (and possibly creating new) qualifications for apprenticeships;
- Funding is to be directed towards employers (not training providers);
- Apprentices are to be supported to achieve Level 2 qualifications in English and Maths (as opposed to the current requirement of Level 1 qualifications);
- Apprenticeships are proposed to be graded: as pass, merit, or distinction
Full details are still emerging, and it remains to be seen what offering apprenticeships will entail, in practice, for employers and training organisations.
The following Creative Skillset Apprenticeships are available in Northern Ireland:
• Advanced Apprenticeship in Craft Roles for Film and TV (Level 3)
• Advanced Apprenticeship in Creative and Digital Media (Level 3)
• Higher Apprenticeship in Broadcast Production (Level 4)
• Higher Apprenticeship in Broadcast Technology (Level 6)
These have been developed by the Creative Industries in collaboration with Creative Skillset. The best ones have been awarded the Creative Skillset Tick – a quality mark that’s awarded by industry to the degree courses that have the closest links with industry, that provide the highest level of industry-relevant education, and that offer the facilities that match what’s being used in the industry.
Traineeships are a relatively new initiative, targeted at people without the entry requirements for apprenticeships, to gain skills to enable them to enter an apprenticeship or job. Traineeships:
- last anything from six weeks to a maximum of six months
- consist of a programme, set by the training provider and tailored to the trainee’s needs, including: work preparation training, English and maths support; and a work experience placement
- are open to young people aged 16 – 18 and qualified below Level 3, OR are aged 19 – 23 and qualified below full Level 2.
National Apprenticeship Service has lots of information, including:
- Apprenticeship information for employers
- Traineeship factsheet for employers and individuals
- Employers’ guide to training organisations
Apprenticeship toolkit by Creative Skillset: http://hire.creativeskillset.org/apprenticeships
Creative Skillset video on apprenticeships: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgRqEyWHlfs
The NCTJ delivers qualifications for pre-entry trainee journalists and professional qualifications for working journalists.
Certificate in Foundation Journalism
The NCTJ Certificate in Foundation Journalism provides an introduction to journalism. It may be used as a stepping stone for candidates wanting to go on to a career in journalism or by those wishing to improve their journalistic skills for a specific purpose.
The qualification is designed in such a way as to give a wide variety of uses within the community journalism setting; whether as a community journalist, blogger or those wishing to use journalism as a way to draw attention to specific community issues.
Advanced Apprenticeship in Journalism
The Advanced Apprenticeship in Journalism is a training scheme which provides a direct route into the industry. Apprentice journalists gain skills and experience working in a news environment as well as off-the-job training at college to work towards gaining the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism Practice qualification.
Apprentices can also progress to completing the full Diploma in Journalism qualification.
Diploma in Journalism
The NCTJ Diploma in Journalism equips trainee journalists with the knowledge and skills for professional entry level journalism. This new qualification was launched in 2010 to encompass the modern multimedia convergent journalist and replaced the Certificate in Journalism.
National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ)
The National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) is the industry’s professional qualification that trainee journalists with at least 18 months employment can take to achieve senior status as a journalist. Employers who support the programme register trainees with the NCTJ and a logbook providing evidence of training and experience is completed before taking the exams. (NQJ qualifications are not currently regulated by Ofqual).
What is a qualification? A glossary of terms
A qualification is a recognition of a body of work completed by a learner, and accredited by an awarding body. A qualification is usually made up of discrete units, and every qualification will be of a particular type and at a particular educational level.
Units: Qualifications are made up of units of credit, which are designed to be flexible and transferable, and allow attainment in small ‘chunks’, or ‘bit by bit’, within and across awarding organisations. Some individual units of credit may be linked to more than one qualification.
Level: A qualification’s (or unit’s) level denotes the level of difficulty (as opposed to amount of work involved, or length of course). Levels are from Entry Level to Level 8.
Type: There are three types of qualification on the QCF framework (see ‘who’s who’ below): Award, Certificate, and Diploma. Qualifications carry a particular credit value. Thus, you can have a Level 1 Award, a Level 1 Certificate, a Level 2 Award, a Level 2 Certificate, etc.
Credit, or credit value: Every unit (and qualification) has a credit value – and different qualification levels require the learner to have earned a particular number of credits. An Award will require between 1 to 12 credits; a Certificate 13 – 36 credits; and a Diploma at least 37 credits. Credit value also gives an indication of how long it takes to complete a course – for QCF qualifications, one credit usually takes 10 hours of learning – though the exact duration will be indicated by the course’s guided learner hours.
Guided Learner Hours (or GLH): The number of hours of direct contact time between the learner and the learning provider, as part of an accredited course. However, it may take the learner more time to prepare, study and complete the work involved in the course. GLH will usually be indicated on the course’s information page on Ofqual (see ‘who’s who’ below), and will usually be included by the provider in their information for learners.
Awarding body: The organisation that accredits the qualification – e.g. NCFE, OCR, AQA, NOCN, Pearson Edexcel, CEA (Council for the Curriculum Examination and Assessment), Creative Skillset (Skillset Tick), NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists), etc. The awarding body oversees the qualification, sets learning outcomes, etc. Some QCF qualifications are offered by more than one awarding body.
Learning centre/provider: This is the organisation that delivers the course – e.g., a college, a community radio station, etc. Training delivery organisations may need to become registered providers in order to deliver the course, or they can deliver a course in partnership with a separate accredited organisation which takes care of course administration.
Funding is sometimes attached to qualifications – see the section on funding.
Who’s who & what’s what: qualification frameworks and regulation:
QCF, or the Qualifications and Credit Framework, is a set of rules about qualification standards, which is in place in England, and Northern Ireland.
Ofqual is an organisation that regulates qualifications that use QCF rules in England. It also regulates vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland. Ofqual monitor awarding organisations and qualifications to make sure that standards are maintained.
BIS, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, is the UK government department for economic growth. The department invests in skills and education to promote trade, boost innovation and help people to start and grow a business.
Northern Ireland Departments: Funding for qualifications in Northern Ireland at Further Education and Apprenticeship levels are funded by the Department of Employment and Learning – http://www.delni.gov.uk. In the case of Secondary and Higher Education, this is funded through the Department of Education.
More information on funding frameworks by country and age range are in the funding section.
Figure: QCF levels and some qualification types
Further information about qualification frameworks in UK can be found at https://www.gov.uk/what-different-qualification-levels-mean
A useful guide and chart, comparing qualifications across the different frameworks in the UK and Ireland is at: http://www.qaa.ac.uk/Publications/InformationAndGuidance/Documents/Quals_cross_boundaries.pdf
A chart from Ofqual with some more examples of qualifications at different levels of the QCF, compared with the older framework (NQF), which included NVQs: http://ofqual.gov.uk/qualifications-and-assessments/qualification-frameworks/levels-of-qualifications/