NCS | Explaining Ofqual Levels

We have officially changed our name to the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society!

Information for members

As of the 15th of May 2023, we have officially changed our name to the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society (NCPS).

Our new and improved website is coming soon!

A number of members have contacted the Society asking us to further explain what 'Ofqual levels' refer to and we hope the following explanation will be helpful.

Ofqual is the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation.It is the government department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland. Its role is to "maintain standards and confidence in qualifications".

One way of understanding the differences between qualifications is to talk about "Levels". The Level of a qualification indicates how difficult it is for an average learner to achieve it.

The wide variety of courses and qualifications on offer in the UK can be confusing for anyone trying to make choices about training and education, or to find a suitable professional who can help them.

The majority of counselling courses are provided in the Further Education or private sectors, and successful trainees are likely to be awarded a Certificate or a Diploma. Qualifications gained in Further Education colleges will usually be monitored and approved by Ofqual. Many private sector training providers will arrange to have their qualifications approved and validated by either a university or an awarding body recognized for this purpose by Ofqual.

Some training courses in our field are provided by universities, and their graduates will have a Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree or another postgraduate award. These qualifications are monitored by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

Other training courses may be accredited by a professional body such as National Counselling Society.

Regulated qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are in one of the following 'frameworks':

National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)

Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ)

Levels are used to show how qualifications within these frameworks compare.

Ofqual devised "Level Descriptors" to help define what someone qualified at a particular Level can be expected to be able to do.

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    Use our Find a Course tool to find the nearest training providers who offer National Counselling Society Accredited, Advanced Specialist, Quality Checked or CPD courses. These courses are currently run across the the UK.

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