Guide to Level Progression

The information shown in the table below provides a guide to attainment level progression.

The levels shown do not necessarily coincide with the level at which individual qualifications are set. For example, GCSEs are at level 1/2, but the level of attainment achieved by a learner is dependent on the grade they achieve. Where a learner attains a GCSE grade D-G this would be considered a level 1.

Whether a learner’s prior attainment is a full level 2 or full level 3 will depend on whether the qualification was defined as this when studied. This is because the qualifications that have been defined as full level 2 and full level 3 have changed over time. The qualifications listed in the table below are examples of qualifications which may have been full in the past. The guidance has been updated to reflect the introduction of the Regulated Qualification Framework RQF from the 1 October 2015 and the decoupling of AS Levels from A Levels from September 2015.

Level Descriptors Qualification equivalent
Entry level
  • QCF qualifications at Entry level
  • Certificate in Adult Literacy, Numeracy, ESOL at Entry level
  • RQF qualifications at Entry Level
  • English and Maths qualifications at Entry Level such as Functional Skills Essential Digital Skills qualification
Level 1
  • GCSE/O Level (at grades D-G or fewer than 5 at grades A-C)
  • CSE grade 2 and 3
  • 1 AS Level (for AS qualifications regulated before 1 September 2015)
  • QCF qualifications at Level 1
  • Foundation 14-19 Diploma
  • Functional Skills
  • Certificate in Adult Literacy, Numeracy, ESOL at Level 1
  • Level 1 Key Skills
  • Level 1 Principal Learning
  • Introductory Diploma
  • Introductory Certificate
  • GNVQ Foundation
  • NVQ Level 1
  • RQF qualifications at Level 1
  • Technical Awards in the Key Stage 4 Performance Tables
  • Essential Digital Skills qualifications
Full level 2
  • GCSE/O Level (5 or more GCSEs grades A*-C)
  • GCSE (9-1) (5 or more GCSEs grade 4 or above)
  • 2 or 3 AS Levels (for AS qualifications regulated before 1 September 2015) CSE Grade 1 (5 or more)
  • 1 A Level
  • Higher 14-19 Diploma
  • QCF Diploma level 2
  • QCF Certificate level 2 at 13 or 14 credits undertaken before 2014 to 2015
  • Level 2 Principal Learning
  • NVQ level 2
  • GNVQ Intermediate
  • Technical Certificates in the 16-19 Performance Tables
  • QCF Certificate level 2 at 15 credits and above
  • From 1 August 2015 vocational qualifications of 150 GLH or more. These are on the level 2 and level 3 legal entitlement qualification list.
Full level 3
  • A Levels (2 or more advanced level passes)
  • 4 or more AS Levels (for AS qualifications regulated before 1 September 2015)
  • QCF Diploma Level 3
  • QAA Access to HE Advanced 14-19 Diploma
  • GNVQ Advanced
  • NVQ level 3
  • AVCE double award
  • Tech Levels which are in the 16-19 Performance Tables
  • Applied Generals which are in the 16-19 Performance Tables (from 1 August 2015)
  • QCF Certificate at Level 3 which is 30 to 36 credits
  • From 1 August 2015 vocational qualifications of 300 GLH or more.
  • These are on the level 2 and level 3 legal entitlement qualification list.
Level Descriptors Current Ofqual Regulated Framework (RQF) Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

 

Level 4
  • QCF Award Level 4
  • QCF Certificate Level 4
  •  QCF Diploma Level 4
  • HNC
  • RQF qualifications Level 4
Certificates of higher education
Level 5
  • QCF Award Level 5
  • QCF Certificate Level 5
  • QCF Diploma Level 5
  • HND
  • RQF qualifications Level 5
Foundation degrees

 

Level 6
  • QCF Award Level 6
  • QCF Certificate Level 6
  • QCF Diploma Level 6
  • RQF qualifications Level 6GCSE/O Level (5 or more GCSEs grades A*-C)
Bachelor’s degrees, graduate certificates and diplomas
Level 7+
  • QCF Award Level 7
  • QCF Certificate Level 7
  • QCF Diploma Level 7
  • RQF qualifications Level 7
Doctorates
  • QCF Award Level 8
  • QCF Certificate Level 8
  • QCF Diploma Level 8
  • RQF qualifications Level 8
Masters degrees, postgraduate certificates and diplomas

Funding Support

  • If you are unemployed or earning less than £17,004 annual gross salary – your level 2 course could be free
  • If you are aged 19-23 and do not hold a full level 3 qualification – your level 3 course could be free
  • If you are aged 24+ and wish to undertake a course at level 3 or above you could take out a 19+ learning loan. You’ll only repay when your income is over £511 a week or £2,214 a month
  • If your household income is less than £30k per annum you could receive support to help with associated learning costs e.g. books, travel, childcare, laptop and wifi

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