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Education and Qualifications

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The most simplistic way to understand qualifications is by their level of difficulty, size and content. There are nine levels of qualification - entry level and levels 1-8. The examples below are a sample of the many available accredited qualifications.

All accredited qualifications can be found on the Find a Regulated Qualification, where you can also view the level and a basic outline of the qualification.

Click here to find out more.

If you are unsure, the easiest way to find out more is to ask a local education and training provider.

Entry level

Each entry level qualification is available at three sub-levels - 1, 2 and 3. Entry level 3 is the most difficult.

Entry level qualifications are:

  • entry level award, certificate, diploma
  • entry level English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
  • entry level essential skills e.g. digital
  • entry level functional skills – English, maths

Level 1

Level 1 qualifications are:

  • first certificate
  • GCSE - grades 3, 2, 1 or grades D, E, F, G
  • level 1 award, certificate, diploma
  • level 1 ESOL
  • level 1 essential skills
  • level 1 functional skills

Level 2

Level 2 qualifications are:

  • CSE - grade 1
  • GCSE - grades 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 or grades A*, A, B, C
  • intermediate apprenticeship
  • level 2 award, certificate, diploma
  • level 2 ESOL
  • level 2 essential skills
  • level 2 functional skills
  • level 2 NVQ
  • music grades 4 and 5
  • O level - grade A, B or C

Level 3

Level 3 qualifications are:

  • A level
  • access to higher education diploma
  • advanced apprenticeship
  • applied general
  • AS level
  • international Baccalaureate diploma
  • level 3 award, certificate, diploma
  • level 3 ESOL
  • level 3 NVQ
  • T Level

Level 4

Level 4 qualifications are:

  • certificate of higher education (CertHE)
  • higher apprenticeship
  • higher national certificate (HNC)
  • level 4 award, certificate, diploma
  • level 4 NVQ

Level 5

Level 5 qualifications are:

  • higher apprenticeship
  • diploma of higher education (DipHE)
  • foundation degree
  • higher national diploma (HND)
  • level 5 award, certificate, diploma
  • level 5 NVQ

Level 6

Level 6 qualifications are:

  • degree apprenticeship
  • degree with honours - for example bachelor of the arts (BA) hons, bachelor of science (BSc) hons
  • graduate certificate
  • graduate diploma
  • level 6 award, certificate, diploma
  • level 6 NVQ
  • ordinary degree without honours


Level 7

Level 7 qualifications are:

  • higher apprenticeship
  • integrated master’s degree, for example master of engineering (MEng)
  • level 7 award, certificate, diploma
  • level 7 NVQ
  • master’s degree, for example master of arts (MA), master of science (MSc)
  • postgraduate certificate
  • postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE)
  • postgraduate diploma

Level 8

Level 8 qualifications are:

  • doctorate, for example doctor of philosophy (PhD or DPhil)
  • level 8 award, certificate, diploma

Support the delivery of local education

It’s not rocket science to know that education is important. We build our skills throughout our lives to help us excel within our jobs (or any other future endeavours). It’s becoming increasingly more common for businesses to support their local schools with the provision of education and services to young people.

Thinking short-term, a business that supports a local school, college or university can get some good benefits.


For example, your staff can improve their:

  • Communication
  • Planning
  • Presentation skills

Not to mention that your business will gain greater exposure within the local community and young people will gain advantages from the improvements made to their education.

Thinking long-term, your business is adding to the skill sets of your local community, improving the likelihood of employing more skilful candidates to your business in the future.

Many education providers also look for industry projects for students to carry out. This supports the learners education programme but also the employer. Projects can be highly technical or very simple, but will provide valuable experience for learners and have a return on investment (usually some time setting it up and providing support) for the employer.

Work experience

Work experience is a placement with your business where a student person carries out tasks and duties that a normal employee would complete. It allows the student to gain a variety of skills first hand, something that is far more memorable than just reading out of text-book! An example is level 3 T Levels where students require over 300 hours work experience. This gives an employer a real opportunity to use the placement within their organisation productively.


Having a helping hand to guide you through a problem is extremely helpful. If that helping hand is an industry expert, then a student would find their support incredibly invaluable! You could mentor a young person by building a structured and rewarding relationship, offering guidance, support, encouragement and developing their skills and character.

Industry days and events

These are days often held by schools, colleges and universities that invite industry experts from their local community to attend and give talks to the students on their industry or specialism. These days and events are a great way to boost your company’s exposure in the local community and to potentially inspire the growing generation into getting involved in your company or industry!

Key Education Stages

In case you are invited to an industry day and need to find out what age range you would be interacting with, here is a breakdown of the key stages in our education system.

Key Stage 0: Nursery and reception years (3–5 years old), now included as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Key Stage 1: Years 1 to 2 (5 to 7-years-old)

Key Stage 2: Years 3 to 6 (7 to 11-years-old)

Key Stage 3: Years 7 to 9 (11 to 14-years-old)

Key Stage 4: Years 10 to 11 (14 to 16-years-old).

The exams at the end of this stage are typically of the GCSE level.

Key Stage 5: Years 12 to 13 (16 to 18-years-old), more commonly referred to as Sixth Form. The exams at the end are typically A Levels, AS Levels, T Levels or National Diplomas.


Vocational qualifications

These are qualifications that many young people choose to do instead of academic qualifications. Vocational qualifications are based on knowledge, skills and behaviours related to a specific trade, occupation or vocation.

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