Category: Vocational Qualifications

RSL at 30: A Brief History of Vocational Qualifications

November 17th, 2021 by

To celebrate our 30th anniversary we’re looking back at some of the highlights from over the years.

Today we’re looking at the evolution of one of our favourite RSL Awards brands: Vocational Qualifications.

From humble origins in their 2005 launch, Vocational Qualifications (VQs) are now being delivered in over 500 centres both in the UK and overseas. The first qualifications launched were Music Practitioners and Creative Practitioners, and there are now five qualification packages to choose from.

Flexibility is key with Vocational Qualifications, giving delivery centres the ability to tailor their qualification portfolio available at Levels 1 – 5 in music, performing arts and media.

Music Practitioners

The Music Practitioners suite of qualifications are designed to give students a vocationally focused qualification with practical expertise in all areas of the music industry, including composition, performance, technology and entrepreneurship.

Music Practitioners can be used in multiple settings up to Level 3 with Tech Awards, Tech Levels and Non-Performance Tables qualifications available.

Creative Practitioners

The Creative Practitioners qualification has pathways available for dancers, actors, musical theatre performers, technicians, musicians, and those wanting to go into other entrepreneurial roles within the music industry. Learners registered on these qualifications perform self and market analysis as well as studying brand development and presentation to the industry.

These qualifications have been completed by musicians such as Ed Sheeran & Jess Glynne but have also produced band managers, label owners and renowned producers.

Creative Digital Media

Creative Digital Media was introduced to the Vocational Qualification provision in 2019. It includes pathways in Interactive Digital Media, Game Design, and Social Media (Level 2 & 3 only). On this course learners will pitch a digital media product, plan for a product release, learn digital design skills, engage in creative speaking and develop their knowledge of digital technology and the digital industry as a whole.

Creative Music Industry

The newest addition to the VQ portfolio is Creative Music Industry. Our Creative Music Industry qualifications have five pathways: Performance, Production, Composition, Live Events and Entrepreneurship. Each pathway is defined by the mandatory content within it, but there are a huge range of optional units on offer enabling centres and learners to tailor their qualification to their main strengths and areas of interest.

Building on our long running, market leading Music Practitioners specifications, RSL has introduced bitesize ‘skills units’ which offer learners the opportunity to get a taste of a wider range of disciplines and develop a broader knowledge of the sector. Units have also been developed in Social Media, Streaming and Online Distribution to reflect developments in the current music industry.

Creative and Performing Arts

The Creative and Performing Arts qualification was added to the Vocational Qualifications suite in 2015. Teaching content covers a variety of sectors within the performing arts industry, enabling a degree of flexibility for learners to choose their own path. Their are qualifications available at Levels 1–3 that also appear on the Department for Education Performance Tables. Teaching content covers a variety of sectors within the performing arts industry, enabling a degree of flexibility for learners to choose their own path.

Creative Industries Practitioners

RSL Awards’ Level 3 – 5 qualifications for Creative Industries Practitioners have been designed to build on the successful range of Vocational Qualifications already available in Music, Performing Arts and Creative Digital Media. They are aimed at centres looking to offer progression to a higher level of education.

The unifying element of work within modern creative industries is the expectation for practitioners to undertake a portfolio career. This suite of qualifications has been designed to encourage the development of skills and self-reflection needed to navigate a unique and varied route through a complex landscape of careers.

The qualifications have been designed to adapt to any areas of the creative industries, be that Music, Performing Arts, Digital Media, or Business.

VQ Centres

Of course VQ wouldn’t be where it is today without the fantastic centres that deliver our qualifications. This year we’ve had the pleasure of visiting some of the teachers who have been providing students across the country with the materials to take their first steps towards a career in the creative arts.


SupaJam support disadvantaged and vulnerable young people, many of whom have never achieved a formal qualification. SupaJam currently have a 94% music diploma pass rate, and in 2020, 87% of their learners went on to university which is an amazing achievement considering some of them had fallen out of school at the age of 10.


BIMM Institute (British and Irish Modern Music Institute) is Europe’s largest, most connected music institute with eight colleges based across the UK and Europe. The core of BIMM is music education delivered by current music industry specialists.

We travelled down to BIMM Brighton to see how they are utilising RSL’s Vocational Qualifications at Levels 2 & 3 to deliver something truly unique and relevant for their music performance and music production students.

New College Swindon

New College Swindon are committed to providing students with the best teaching and learning, facilities, enrichment, development opportunities and guidance support.

In this video, we show how RSL’s flexible Vocational Qualifications allow New College Swindon’s students achieve their own personal goals or ambitions, whether that’s higher education or going straight into the creative industries. We also delve into the wider support RSL offers all delivery centres and the guidance provided by our EQAs (External Quality Assurers).

If you’ve enjoyed reading about Vocational Qualifications and want to deliver them at your assessment centre then hit the button below to get in touch with a member of the team!


Learner Registration, Assessment Planning and Internal Verification Deadlines | Vocational Qualifications

October 29th, 2021 by

The first week of November sees some high priority deadlines for VQ delivery centres as part of the Vocational Qualifications key dates calendar…

Assessment Planning for 2021/22

The deadline to submit your assessment and internal verification plans for all qualifications delivered this year is Thursday 4th November 2021. We encourage centres to try and include the completion of units as early as possible in the academic year due to uncertainties presented by Covid. You can speak to your External Quality Assurer (EQA) about the best way to do this and when reviewing your plans, they may provide additional guidance or recommendations along those lines. Please reference the centre handbook for more information.

You can submit your documentation via our secure cloud site…

Making Learner Registrations for 2021/22

The deadline for registering learners is Friday 5th November 2021. This means that centres should have registered all their learners for the 2021/22 assessment year by this time. Registrations after this deadline will incur a late registration fee of £30 per learner in addition to the learner registration fee.  Please note that your learners must be registered for all years they are on the course which include summative assessment, not just the year the learners will be certificated.

Registrations are made through your secure area on our website and you can download the updated how to guide for managing learner registrations here. You can also download our Registration and Certification Policy here which outlines all the regulations surrounding registering learners. It is important you read this carefully to make sure registrations are correct. There is also a document containing Term 1 FAQs for Exams Officers available here which includes the Qualification Accreditation Number (QAN) that may be helpful when making registrations.

Please be aware of the following when making your registrations:

  • You will need to set up the qualification programmes yourself to make sure you are registering learners on the correct units.  If you select a qualification programme from last year, please make sure it has the correct units within it.  If it does not, please create a new qualification programme.
  • When choosing years to register learners, if you create a qualification programme where you identify units as completing in year two of the qualification, it will count 21/22 as year one of the qualification and 22/23 as year two.
  • If you are topping up a qualification (e.g. from a Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma to a Level 3 Extended Diploma) please use the top up function rather than creating a new registration. If you create a new registration, it will not recognise prior learning (RPL) of the year one units and you will be invoiced for the full qualification amount rather than a top up.
  • If you are expecting to deliver the externally assessed unit this year, ensure that the current assessment year is selected for this unit otherwise you will not receive the brief when released on the 11th November 2021.
  • If you need to make a change to a learner registration please complete the Change to Learner Registration Form here, then email it to and we can make the change for you.

Thank you for all your efforts in preparing for this year and we look forward to supporting you all the way through to certification at the end of the academic year.

Virtual CPD Events 2021/22 – Vocational Qualifications

October 29th, 2021 by

We are pleased to announce the upcoming CPD sessions for Term 1 of the 2021-22 academic year!

We have arranged an in-depth series of virtual CPD sessions to aid all approved RSL Vocational Qualification delivery centres. These free sessions will cover everything from delivery and assessment of internal units to the requirements of this academic year’s external assessments (where appropriate). These sessions are part of RSL’s ongoing commitment to support its delivery centres in continuing to deliver world class education to their learners.

All sessions listed are free to attend for any RSL approved delivery centre. You may attend multiple sessions as is relevant to your centre but we would ask the following:

  • Please limit attendees from any centre to 2 delegates per training session
  • Only sign up for sessions you are certain you can attend

Once signed up your place will be secured and closer to the session date RSL will email details of how to access the meeting (zoom meeting link), any associated resources, and the opportunity to submit questions in advance of the session.

Delivery and Assessment Sessions

These sessions will provide delegates with the inside track on what should be involved in planning, delivering and assessing RSL Vocational Qualifications. The training will cover key areas common to all internal units and examine how learners should meet the assessment criteria, RSL’s expectations of assessors and navigating moderation successfully. There will be an opportunity to ask questions directly to an EQA and we will examine key differences between Pass, Merit and Distinction standard learner work through standardisation exercises and discussion. The session will also provide an opportunity to network with staff from other RSL centres.

These sessions will take a small group format (10 delegates) and encourage conversation throughout.


External Assessment Sessions

These sessions will provide delegates with a clear understanding of the requirements for this year’s External Assessments. The training will cover updates and changes from last year, the Covid adaptations that remain in place for this year, producing appropriate evidence, examining what is required for each grade and a review of the processes and key dates. There will also be an introduction to the new brief and the tutor guidance documents. The session will also provide an opportunity to ask questions directly to a Senior EQA.

These sessions will take a large group format (100 delegates) and content will be presented, with time for questions invited at specific points of the session.


We will be releasing details this term on how centres can opt for their own bespoke training sessions. These will come at a cost but will allow much more flexibility to centres with regard to the timing and specific content of the session.

To book onto a session, please select the relevant CPD title in the table available over in the VQ Help and Support dashboard. The contents have been divided by ‘Delivery and Assessment’ sessions (relevant to all centres) and ‘External Assessment’ sessions (relevant to centres running performance table qualifications only).

RSL Vocational Qualifications Results Day 2021!

August 10th, 2021 by

Congratulations to all of the 15,000+ learners from the 500+ schools and colleges who will be receiving their RSL Vocational Qualifications results this August!

The embargo on all RSL Awards results is lifted on the 10th August. We expect that centres will release results for Level 2 and 3 in line with other qualifications.

Key Dates:

  • Tuesday 10th August – Level 3 Results
  • Thursday 12th August – Level 2 Results

Firstly, we wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate centres on the monumental efforts taken to ensure learners were able to certificate this year, and prepare them for the next stage in their journeys.

This year saw far fewer Teacher Assessed Grades than expected and far more learner evidence available for moderation. This is a strong indicator of the hard work centres and learners have put in during what has been two very difficult academic years.

The quality processes undertaken this year have given us high confidence in the qualifications awarded and we are pleased to confirm that there has been no need to adjust learner grades at the qualification level.

Please download the Frequently Asked Questions below regarding the release of results, validation, and certification of the qualifications. These include how to access the results. Please read these carefully as they will hopefully answer any questions you may have. As an Awarding Organisation, we do not deal directly with learners or their parents/guardians. However, there is a lot of information relevant to learners here, so please feel free to refer to this link should you have queries regarding the results release.

FAQs – RSL VQ Results Day 2021

All data has been sent to UCAS so if there are any questions about university applications, please contact UCAS directly.

Our Appeals Policy is available online has been amended to reflect Ofqual guidance about awarding this summer, please note that all appeals must be made within 20 working days of the receipt of results.

As with last year, we will provide learners with a further opportunity to improve grades in the Autumn. You can download the details about the Autumn series and the application form below. Please note any learners who enter the Autumn series must provide complete evidence, these will not be TAGs. The deadline for receiving applications for the Autumn Series is Friday 17th September 2021.

RSL VQ Autumn Series 2021 Guidance RSL VQ Autumn Series 2021 Application Form

We hope all learners enjoy a happy results day and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours.

Contact Us

Before contacting us, please make sure you download and read through our Frequently Asked Questions document. We’re hopeful that this will answer the majority of questions you may have.

FAQs – RSL VQ Results Day 2021

To all learners reading this: please speak to your centre directly and they will guide you through the process outlined above.

For further information, please contact our VQ Team directly:

The RSL Team

Vocational Qualifications – Inclusive Creative Industries Training

July 22nd, 2021 by

RSL Awards have a complete portfolio of Creative Industries Vocational Qualifications, covering Music, Performing Arts and Creative Digital Media from Levels 1-5, without any requirement to undertake external assessment.

As a specialist awarding body, RSL Awards work to create engaging qualifications to reflect the changing demands of the Creative Industries, with an ongoing commitment to motivate and support teachers and learners alike.

Leave your details in the form below to download our overview guide to RSL’s Vocational Qualifications (both non-performance table quals and DfE Performance Tables quals available), and see how you can implement these qualifications at your centre.

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    Our Vocational Qualification portfolio is practical, industry relevant and accessible to learners with diverse skills and interests. The flexibility of delivery is designed to allow you to build the perfect qualification for you and your learners, whilst retaining structure through selected core and optional units – many of which can be taught remotely if necessary.

    The majority of assessment is based around practical and/or technical skills, and knowledge applicable to roles in the relevant qualification’s industry. Generally, there are no set works or repertoire restrictions allowing your learners to study what they are actually interested in, generating greater engagement.

    Each delivery centre is allocated a dedicated External Quality Assurer (EQA) – they will support the centre throughout delivery, approving assessment & IV plans, assignment briefs, and externally verifying samples of learner evidence prior to certification of the qualification.

    Our ‘Help & Support’ area contains exemplar assignment briefs, schemes of work, how-to- guides and templates for delivery, assessment and internal verification.

    All approved centres will have access to annual CPD events online or in different regions of the UK – these are aimed at both new and existing delivery centres.

    Ready to deliver RSL Vocational Qualifications? Start the centre approval process here…

    If you have any further questions or would like more information about delivering RSL’s Vocational Qualifications, please do not hesitate to get in touch:

    Vocational Qualifications: July 2021 Newsletter

    July 21st, 2021 by

    Welcome to the RSL Vocational Qualifications end of academic year 2020-21 newsletter!

    The onset of academic year 2020-21 was never likely to herald a return to normality after the disruption of 2019-2020 but it has perhaps even surpassed expectations in terms of the difficulties it has presented to all our centres, as well as to us at RSL.

    We would like to thank you all for working with us and helping us to overcome the hurdles we have faced this year, and we thought it might be useful to provide a short end of year update from the various departments here who are concerned with making VQs run as smoothly as possible.

    Click the links below to jump to news from:

    Also, keep scrolling for some amazing VQ Centre Spotlight videos!

    VQ Operations Team Update

    It has been another unusual year for us in the Vocational Operations Team. Of course, the day-to-day interactions with centres have continued and we have endeavoured to be as efficient as possible in dealing with centres requests and submissions, while contending with all the changes to the calendar, the QA process and the expectations of what centres and learners are capable of with all the COVID restrictions in place. We have received some excellent feedback from centres about communication and support this year, which is reassuring as we have hoped to be as clear as possible in an unclear situation.

    As well as dealing with the ever changing assessment landscape this year we have had to plan ahead for the introduction of Ofqual’s new ‘Centre Assessment Standards Scrutiny’ (CASS) which will mean differentiating requirements on centres based on previous experience of delivering Vocational Qualifications with us. We sent you information on CASS last month, and we hope that we have managed to accommodate the required changes without too much upheaval for delivery centres. We will be sending out more detailed information about the requirements in due course.

    You should have received the Key Dates Calendar for 2021-22, and those dates will hopefully remain unmoved so that we can have a more consistent and undisrupted year working with you from September.

    If you are planning to add additional qualifications to your delivery next year, do get in touch and complete the ‘Additional Qualifications Application Form’ from the VQ help and support area, so that we can get them added to your record.

    We would like to thank centres for all of their efforts complying with the grading deadlines this year and for supplying samples in a timely fashion where requested. We wish you all a good summer break.

    VQ Centre Spotlight: SupaJam

    SupaJam support disadvantaged and vulnerable young people, many of whom have never achieved a formal qualification. SupaJam currently have a 94% music diploma pass rate and, in 2020, 87% of their learners went on to university which is an amazing achievement considering some of them had fallen out of school at the age of 10.

    In this video, we show how RSL’s diverse and flexible Vocational Qualifications allow SupaJam to offer creative arts education in a unique, progressive and inclusive learning environment.

    EQA Update from Andrew McBirnie (Chief Examiner)

    RSL has a team of 28 External Quality Assurers (EQAs), including three Senior EQAs. They represent a wide cross-section of knowledge and experience: all have a background in vocational education in music, media and/or the performing arts; many remain actively involved in delivering qualifications in schools and colleges; many are industry practitioners, often working at the highest levels; many maintain portfolio careers encompassing a wide variety of activities; some have worked at senior levels in the vocational education sector. All are united by a commitment and focus on supporting RSL centres, helping staff in those centres to provide the best learning experience for their students, and ensuring that the students themselves – who are at the heart of what we do – achieve meaningful qualifications which enable them to grow, develop and achieve.

    This has been as challenging a year for our EQAs as it has been for all of us. Though I say it myself, they’ve been brilliant in responding to a constantly changing and unpredictable landscape with calmness, professionalism and good humour. As lockdowns, Government policies and regulatory frameworks have come and gone with sometimes bewildering speed, we’ve done our best to keep EQAs up to date with the company line on every issue, which has often been little more than ‘we don’t know yet and we’ll tell you when we do’.

    At the same time, we’ve tried to maintain ‘business as usual’ as much as we can. My main objective in overseeing the work of examiners, EQAs and assessors across all of RSL’s portfolios is to ensure correct and consistent application of standards. Following initial training at the beginning of the academic year, this is managed on a day-to-day basis by our three Senior EQAs, who check and review reports and observe centre visits, written or delivered by the EQAs under their remit. Prior to the upload of grades on 18 June and subsequent moderation window, we ran a standardisation exercise in which all EQAs participated; I reviewed all the reports they produced, discussed issues raised with the Senior EQAs and VQ colleagues, and fed back my findings. I’m pleased to say there was a very high level of consistency regarding the key decisions, and there were many useful issues thrown up by the reporting which we will be able to take forward next year in the hope that we will be able to further improve the quality of our service to centres.

    To everyone reading this, thank you for your support of RSL and for your EQA in particular. It’s always appreciated when a centre takes the trouble to let us know that they value the work and support of their EQA – and I’m pleased to say that what feedback I do see is overwhelmingly positive. It’s also great when an EQA mentions to me that they have received thanks, appreciation and co-operation from their centres – which again is very frequent. It does seem to me that there’s a common and constructive bond between centres and their learners, and ourselves at Head Office – we all want students to be able to express themselves, develop their skills and confidence, and receive reward and recognition for what they can do; and our EQAs are the lynchpin in enabling that to happen.

    VQ Centre Spotlight: New College Swindon

    New College Swindon are committed to providing students with the best teaching and learning, facilities, enrichment, development opportunities and guidance support.

    In this video, we show how RSL’s flexible Vocational Qualifications allow New College Swindon’s students achieve their own personal goals or ambitions, whether that’s higher education or going straight into the creative industries. We also delve into the wider support RSL offers all delivery centres and the guidance provided by our EQAs (External Quality Assurers).

    Update from our Academic Team

    2020-21 Academic year has been like no other and although we know new qualifications might have been pushed to the back of your consciousness whilst you tackled the day-to-day challenges of teaching in a pandemic, we have been working away on various new specifications or amended specifications this year.

    Uppermost in our mind during this year has been the impending change to ‘Tech Awards’ for 2024 Performance Tables (first teaching in 2022). We have had a new set of Technical Guidance to work through and this will mean some changes to the existing format of our Tech Awards, however we have tried to stay loyal to the principles we always use when designing our VQs – namely practical skills and knowledge being at the forefront.

    The specifications are with Ofqual and DfE for approval for first teaching in September 2022 and you can download the drafts by clicking on the download links below.

    We have submitted Tech Awards in:

    Alongside the Tech Awards development, we have also put the finishing touches to the new Creative Music Industry spec at Levels 1 and 2, and we have added it to the Level 3 quals which have seen a really strong uptake this year. There has also been a full review of our non-performance tables Creative and Performing Arts specification and the refreshed version is now live on our website.

    It isn’t just qualifications that we work on though, alongside them we are also constantly updating the resources we make available to centres to assist them in delivery. This year we have added Standardisation Materials and Additional Exemplar Materials to the ‘Help & Support’ section of our website. You can access these by logging in to the website. Alongside those resources we ran a series of CPD sessions with Industry Practitioners and they will be available to access shortly from the same location.

    If you would like to discuss any of the information raised in this newsletter please do get in touch with our Business Development team – /

    The team are also on hand to discuss any of the qualifications in Music, Performing Arts, Creative Digital Media or Creative Industries.

    Please do also get in touch if you are interested in our portfolio of Graded Music, Graded Performing Arts or Professional Diploma qualifications.

    If we don’t hear from you have a great summer and we look forward to working with you again in 2021/22!

    COVID-19: Information for Centres delivering RSL VQs

    July 5th, 2021 by

    We are aware that this is an extremely challenging time for all of our centres. Please bookmark this page to keep track of all Vocational Qualification updates and COVID-19 guidance.


    Update – 3rd September 2021

    We hope that everybody has had a lovely summer break and are looking forward to the new academic year, in whatever form that is taking for you. We wanted to highlight some key information available for delivering RSL qualifications so you have all the information you need to start the academic year.

    One of the most important documents you will need to refer to is the Key Dates Calendar, as this outlines all processes which need to take place throughout the academic year to ensure certification. We have a version for Performance Tables Qualifications and a version for Non-Performance Tables Qualifications, both of which can be found by clicking here. You will need to take the dates into account when planning and we recommend discussing in your teams who is responsible for each activity.

    Our Centre Handbook has been updated and can be downloaded here or in the Help and Support section. Please make sure you refer to this document, along with the Key Dates Calendars, as these will give you plenty of relevant information for delivery of RSL qualifications.

    We have updated policy documentation as well, which can be found here. We would particularly recommend reading the Registration and Certification Policy, which outlines all the processes from registering learners through to certification.

    We have updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which are available on our Help and Support site here (you will need to log in). There is a version for Teachers and a version for Exams Officers.

    We can confirm that all RSL adaptations for internal units implemented in 20/21 will be continuing into 21/22. You can find the agreed adaptations here. We also provided guidance on streamlining of assessment which can be found here for Music Practitioners (Performance Tables), Music Practitioners (Non-Performance Tables) and Creative and Performing Arts (Performance Tables).

    In 2020/21 we adapted externally assessed units by making them internal units. For 2021/22, we will be using a hybrid approach. This means the controlled conditions will be relaxed (as in 2021/22) but the external assessment briefs must be used, deadlines for submission to RSL will need to be met and the work will be externally marked by RSL. The aim is that this will be a transition back to ‘normal’ controlled external assessment from 2022/23.

    Update – 5th July 2021

    Summary of 2021 Processes

    As a reminder of this year’s processes for certification, please see the summary document released in March 2021.

    RSL VQ Awarding 2020-21 Quick Guide for Centres

    Results Day

    Results for all RSL VQs will be released on Monday 9th August 2021. This is slightly earlier than published in our key dates calendar. Once the results are released you will be able to view your learners’ grades by viewing the Learners section of our site or by generating a report through the Reports section – please see the How To Guide here for more information on this.

    Viewing Your Learners' Grades 'How to Guide' – VQ

    Our system is not currently able to generate learner grades as a spreadsheet. We were intending to implement this feature this year however due to COVID, our development time had to be prioritised on more urgent needs. When your learner certificates are printed and sent to your centre, you will also be sent a statement of results for each learner which lists their unit grades.


    Certificates will be printed and sent to centres between Monday 16th August and Friday 3rd September 2021. If there will not be anyone in your centre to receive the certificates in August, please let us know when there will be someone available and we will send the certificates then. Certificates are sent recorded delivery so will need to be signed for.


    We have updated our Appeals Policy to reflect awarding for 20-21, which can be found below. If your centre wishes to appeal any results, please refer to this policy in the first instance.

    RSL Appeals Policy Vocational Qualifications


    If you have any questions on results days, you can contact us via the usual telephone number 0345 460 4747 or via the usual email address.

    Update – 26th May 2021

    Guide to Quality Assurance 2020/21

    We are pleased to share a video guide on the Quality Assurance stages that will take place this 2020/21 academic year. For further information, please refer to the RSL VQ Approach to Awarding 20-21 Technical Document.

    Guide to Submitting Teacher Assessed Grades

    We are pleased to share a video guide on how to submit Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) this 2020/21 assessment year. For further information on TAGs, please refer to the RSL VQ Approach to Awarding 20-21 Technical Document.

    Update – 30th March 2021

    Following our email of the 24th March, we are pleased to tell you that our guidance about awarding for this academic year is now available for centres.

    Please note that this guidance applies to all learners who are completing units this year, whether ‘mid-flight’ (e.g. in their first year of a two-year qualification) or certificating.

    There are three main resources that we would like to draw your attention to:

    1. RSL VQ Approach to Awarding 20-21 (Technical Document)
    2. RSL VQ Awarding 2020-21 Quick Guide for Centres
    3. RSL VQ Internal Quality Assurance Process for Centres 20-21

    1) RSL VQ Approach to Awarding 20-21 (Technical Document)

    This is the main document which summarises all the processes for the remainder of this academic year. There are extensive FAQs within the document which will hopefully answer any questions you may have. It is vitally important that any centres with learners who are completing units this year (whether ‘mid-flight’ or certificating) read this guidance carefully.

    RSL VQ Approach to Awarding 20-21 (Technical Document)

    2) RSL VQ Awarding 2020-21 Quick Guide for Centres

    This guide highlights some of the key principles, themes, and steps of the process in order to help centre staff orientate themselves as they assimilate the necessary information. It does not replace the technical document and does not serve as an alternative authoritative source. Some information contained in the technical document is not reproduced in this guide, so centre representatives must also read the more detailed guidance.

    RSL VQ Awarding 2020-21 Quick Guide for Centres

    3) RSL VQ Internal Quality Assurance Process for Centres 20-21

    This folder contains resources which centres will need for their Internal Quality Assurance processes this year, including the Head of Centre Declaration Template. More details are given in the documents mentioned above.

    RSL VQ Internal Quality Assurance Process for Centres 20-21 Head of Centre Declaration

    Resources from the CPD sessions

    The resources from our recent CPD sessions ‘Adapting External Assessment to Internal Assessment’ should be available via the ‘Help and Support’ section of the site by the end of this week. The videos from sessions will be in the ‘CPD Events’ section and the exemplars themselves will be in the relevant folder in the ‘Exemplars’ section.

    We hope that the documentation will help you to feel more confident in your approach for the rest of the academic year. Your External Quality Assurer will be able to provide you with support and you can also contact us at if you have any further questions.

    Update – 17th March 2021

    Following our email on the 25th February after the first Ofqual consultation, we wanted to provide a further update about the deadline for inputting grades. We will not be publishing our final guidance about how the Teacher Assessment Grade (TAG) process will operate until after the second Ofqual consultation has closed (the expectation is this will be the end of March/beginning of April) but wanted to give some clarity about the expectation of deadlines.

    As you will have seen, the deadline published for GQs to submit final grades is the 18th June 2021. To make the process as simple as possible for centres delivering multiple qualifications, this will also be the date for submission of RSL grades. Please bear in mind this will apply to all grades, not just Teacher Assessed Grades and will replace the date of the 1st July 2021 which is in our Key Dates Calendar. We appreciate this removes two weeks from the calendar but it is vital that we have all grades input by that date to ensure revised processes for the extraordinary awarding process can take place.

    We will provide detailed guidance about how the TAG process will work as soon as possible after the Ofqual consultation results release. In the meantime, please continue to liaise with your EQA about optional sampling or a supportive EQA meeting and continue with internal assessment where it is safe and possible to do so.

    Update – 25th February 2021

    The response to the first Ofqual consultation providing more details about the awarding of Vocational Qualifications in 20/21 has been published today, Thursday 25th February 2021, via their website. This will offer valuable insights into the frameworks around awarding this year. Ofqual are today launching a second consultation on the regulatory framework, which will close on the 11th March 2021. These more detailed consultation results are not expected until the end of March/beginning of April so there will be a longer wait until the entire picture is revealed. We share centre’s frustrations with the slow release of information but do feel that this initial response gives us confidence to make some positive steps towards awarding this year.

    What we know so far:

    TAGs (Teacher assessed grades) will be used where registered learners have been unable to complete assessment

    -This applies across all RSL Vocational Qualifications

    -TAGs can be applied for any registered learners expecting to sit an assessment between 1st August 2020 and 31st August 2021

    -TAGs can apply to learners certificating this year, and those who are part way through their qualification.

    -Results days will be w/c 9th August 2021, which is in line with our usual results release.

    The approach set out by Ofqual aligns well with our current guidance and as such we would ask that centres continue their immense efforts in engaging their learners, completing assessment to the best of their ability and using the centres professional judgement as to what is appropriate to undertake. It is clear from the introduction of TAGs that while assessment evidence will play a role in awarding, incomplete assessment is expected to be commonplace and learners who have been unable to engage will be supported in their qualification attainment.


    Given the incomplete nature of this year’s assessment, we feel it is appropriate to remove the sampling requirement with immediate effect. Centres will not be required to provide a sample for moderation, instead we would like to offer two alternatives that centres may make use of should they wish to:

    Optional sample – centres can request a supportive sample to take place on unit(s) of their choosing. Where a sample has already been submitted by a centre, their EQA will complete the sample and provide a report.


    Supportive EQA meeting – centres can arrange a meeting with their EQA to discuss their approach to qualification assessment.

    Your EQA will be in touch with more details about these options and you will be able to arrange a date/time directly with them should you wish to engage with either.

    N.B. sampling may be introduced as part of the certification mechanism, however based on last year’s certification process, we do not believe that this will apply to most centres.

    Process for 2021

    We are keen to ensure consistency with other Awarding Organisations providing Vocational Qualifications to minimise confusion for centres, and there are still many unanswered questions that will be covered in Ofqual’s second consultation. We would ask that centres be vigilant as we have seen multiple media stories containing information that is misleading or incorrect. Areas where we will provide additional guidance, following consultation, are:

    -What the minimum evidential threshold will be (e.g. how much evidence must a learner have completed to be eligible for certification)

    -How centres will communicate Teacher Assessed Grades to RSL

    -The internal quality assurance arrangements expected of centres.

    -What information centres should provide to RSL to support the results.

    -How RSL will quality assure the initial Teacher Assessed Grade.

    -We will send updates to centres as more information is released. We are also uploading the information on our website here -

    Support material

    In the meantime, we would encourage centres to continue their excellent work supporting their learners through this difficult time and to get in touch with any questions or concerns they have. We communicated support that we will be providing to centres in the coming months and will email separately about these sessions and how to engage with them. The sessions planned for March include:

    -Releasing exemplar material for a selection of grades for all of the external units

    -Releasing standardisation packs for all of the external units

    -Hosting training for marking the external units

    We hope the details here help to provide reassurance that learners will not be disadvantaged and we will continue to update you as more details become clear.

    Update – 5th February 2021

    Following the announcement of our move to switch the externally assessed unit to internal, we have produced guidance to demonstrate some of the changes in approach that this change will allow and respond to queries we have had from centres. The guidance can be downloaded below:

    RSL VQ External Assessment to Internal Assessment Guidance

    In addition to this guidance, as centres will not have marked external units before, we will be providing support to help centres in this task. This will include:

    • Releasing exemplar material for a selection of grades for all of the external units (March – Exact dates TBC)
    • Releasing standardisation packs for all of the external units (March – Exact dates TBC)
    • Hosting training for marking the external units (March – Exact dates TBC)
    • Providing editable (word versions) of the EA briefs (February 10th 2021)
    • Providing template marksheets for the external units (PDF & word) (February 10th 2021)

    Details for accessing this support once released can be found in the linked ‘RSL VQ External Assessment to Internal Assessment Guidance’ document below and we will also contact all centres via email when it is available.

    RSL VQ External Assessment to Internal Assessment Guidance

    This applies only to centres where externally assessed unit/s are being conducted in the current assessment year. If this does not apply to your centre, please disregard this email.

    We hope this additional guidance helps to provide clarification. If you have further questions which are not answered here, please contact your EQA or email us at We will provide a further update on awarding for this academic year following the results of the Ofqual consultation.

    Update – 28th January 2021

    Following our communication to centres on 21st January and the recent news that School and Colleges will not re-open until the 8th March at the earliest, we have a further update on the externally assessed units. We have been in constant contact with Ofqual and the Department for Education about adapting our externally assessed units for 20/21 and have agreed the approach outlined below. Our agreed approach is that we will not be cancelling the external assessment but will instead be adapting the unit to make it an internal unit.

    This means:

    • The controlled conditions do not apply to any aspects of the external assessment.
    • The controlled window does not apply to the assessment of external units.

    This change in the nature of assessment is intended to alleviate pressure from delivery centres and their learners, however we recognise it will not necessarily mean all learners are able to complete all assessment. Where possible, and where it is safe and practical to do so, learners should be encouraged to complete any tasks they are able to work on at home. Where this is not possible, we are confident that the measures being consulted on by Ofqual and DfE will ensure no learner will be disadvantaged.

    For more details about this change, and next steps, please download the guidance document below.

    RSL VQ External Assessment Update – Jan 2021

    Update – 21st January 2021

    Many thanks for your continued patience at this time. We appreciate that there continues to be uncertainty about the awarding of vocational qualifications in 2021.

    You may have seen the published letters from the Secretary of State for Education and the reply from Ofqual’s Chief Regulator. These have been followed with the release of a joint consultation from the Department for Education and Ofqual. This closes on the 29th January, and it is likely to be several weeks after this before all the arrangements are confirmed. We would encourage you to participate in the consultation to ensure that government agencies receive as broad a range of views as possible; the details can be found here…

    We will send out more detailed guidance once we have it but would like to highlight the following key points for delivery and assessment at the moment:

    1. The consultation highlights that internal assessment should continue remotely wherever possible. Our guidance to continue with assessment where it is safe and practicable to do so still stands, even if this means partial completion of assessment.

    2. We have noted that some awarding organisations have already cancelled their external assessment. It is, however, important to note that the consultation states that only written exams are cancelled. As our external assessment does not fall under this bracket, we cannot confirm the cancellation of external assessment at this time. There is an indication that written exams may be replaced with additional assessment, and we believe that by continuing with the external assessment which learners may have already been working on for some time, this will provide the best chance of creating valid and auditable evidence.

    3. We appreciate that centres are finding some aspects of the external assessment very difficult to administer. Please see a summary of the attached adaptations that were put in place at the start of the external assessment window to reduce the controlled conditions and make remote assessment more manageable. One of the key adaptations was the removal of controlled conditions around the planning and evaluative sections of the external assessment. You will also find an updated How to Guide for 20-21 and additional Tutor Guidance in the zip files where you downloaded the external assessment briefs.

    4. We understand that some aspects of the assessments may be impossible to complete as normal, and we expect that there will be students who are unable to complete evidence for a number of learning outcomes. The measures which we will introduce after having received advice from the Department and Ofqual will ensure that learners are not disadvantaged.

    Please be assured that we are as keen as you to have a clear way forward and, as we did last academic year, we will communicate with you as soon as we have additional guidance. For now, the message is to continue with assessment wherever possible as a wealth of assessment evidence for learners can only support awarding this year.

    Update – 5th January 2021

    We hope you are all safe and well at this challenging time. Under the new lockdown conditions put in place from the 5th January and the communication from government that not all exams will be able to go ahead as planned, we feel it is important to keep you updated with our current understanding and likely next steps.

    We expect it will take a number of weeks for all awarding bodies and government agencies to understand the best approach to assessment this academic year. RSL Awards took a very active role during the first national lockdown and we will continue to ensure that the nuances of awarding the creative and performing arts are considered at the highest level. Unfortunately, we are unable to give you any more detail on the approach to grading at the moment.

    Until further notice we advise that you carry on with teaching, learning and assessment as close to normal as you can under the guidance we released in December, and in line with current government guidance. Whatever next steps are agreed, having a good level of auditable evidence will be highly useful.

    For centres who work with Performance Table Qualifications that have external coursework assessment scheduled for January onwards, the latest guidance from the government indicates that ‘Public exams and vocational assessments scheduled to take place in January will go ahead as planned’. However, this does not give clear guidance on practical assessment and assessment that requires extended attendance with access to specialist equipment. We are currently seeking guidance from Ofqual and the Department for Education, aiming to ensure they know the specialist requirements our subject areas demand.

    If you can, please complete this very short survey regarding your progress through the qualification. This data will be useful in ensuring government agencies are aware of the impact of both this academic year and the last. Please use the comments box on the survey to respond to this message.

    Update – 4th December 2020

    As you may have seen yesterday, the DfE announced further adaptations to General Qualifications in 2020/21. Awarding Bodies are now working with the DfE and Ofqual to determine how these further adaptations may be applied to Vocational Qualifications, allowing learners to achieve to their fullest despite the ongoing disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    RSL Awards have developed proposals for DfE approval on how we can further adjust our qualifications to ensure parity with equivalent qualifications. As this announcement is in its early stages, and while we are waiting for DfE to publish their updated performance tables guidance, we are not currently in a position to confirm the specifics of any further adaptations. Once we have received feedback from the relevant organisations, we will communicate this to centres as soon as possible.

    Please be assured that we want to minimise any further disruption to an already challenging academic year and any additional adaptations will be designed to minimise burden. We appreciate any changes during an academic year are frustrating and that centres will need to know updated information as soon as it is possible. Until we are able to update you with our proposals, we ask that you continue to deliver the qualifications in accordance with our most recent guidance.

    Update – 3rd November 2020

    We have today sent an email to approved centres which includes:

    • Update to Application for Proposed Adaptations for Internally Assessed Units
    • Guidance for Internally Assessed Units
    • Assessment Planning for 20/21 – Deadline Thursday 5th November 2020
    • Deadline for Making Learner Registrations – Friday 6th November 2020
    • External Assessment Brief Release
    • CPD Sessions

    As there are number of updates, we have collated them all into one document to make it clearer to read. You can download the document below…

    RSL VQ Updates – November 2020

    Ofqual Consultation – 14th October 2020

    We are pleased to tell you that Ofqual have ended their consultation about the Extended Extraordinary Regulatory Framework, details of which can be found here…

    This means that we are able to confirm our proposed adaptation for internal units only. Please refer to our ‘RSL VQ Internal Assessment Adaptations 2020-21’ document for specific details of the adaptations allowed.

    RSL VQ Internal Assessment Adaptations 2020-21

    The DfE have still not confirmed the requirements surrounding performance table qualifications, which means we are unable to confirm whether our proposals for controlled external assessment will be acceptable. We appreciate this is extremely frustrating given how close we are to the release of the Controlled External Assessment Briefs and can assure you we share your frustrations. As soon as we have confirmation from the DfE, we will communicate this to you. For now, please plan as though the usual controlled conditions will be in place.

    In addition to the adaptations we have outlined, RSL has also brought in a new process for centres to propose adaptations that fall outside of our guidance, which is only to be used if a centre has no other way of conducting assessment. This will apply for internally assessed units only. You do not need to submit a form to implement any of the adaptations described in the attached ‘RSL 2021 Proposed Adaptations for Delivery and Assessment’ document, this process is just for any additional adaptations that are absolutely necessary for assessment to take place.

    Your External Quality Assurer will be able to discuss possible adaptations with you but all adaptations will need to be signed off at Head Office to ensure consistency. In order to propose an adaptation for your centre, please complete the ‘RSL VQ Application for Proposed Adaptations for 2021’ form and return to The proposed adaptations will be reviewed by RSL’s Academic Team and a response sent within 10 working days of receipt. To ensure an adaptation can be agreed in a timely manner, please submit your proposals as soon as possible and at least 10 working days prior to starting assessment. Please note that in order to ensure consistency across all centres, we will not be able to discuss adaptation proposals over the phone and all requests will need to be put in writing.

    RSL VQ Application for Proposed Adaptations for 2021 RSL VQ Internal Assessment Adaptations 2020-21

    Head of Centre Declaration – 23rd June 2020

    In our guidance, we identified that centre assessment grades had to be signed off within the centre before submission to RSL and centres must keep a record of the process. Following additional advice from Ofqual, we now require an additional declaration to be submitted, which can be downloaded below.

    A new document type has been created in the site specifically for this document. Please only use the document type ‘Head of Centre Declaration for Centre Assessment Grades.’ If another heading is used, the document may be missed and your centre may risk being delayed certification. Please complete and upload this document by Monday 29th June 2020.

    RSL Head of Centre Declaration for Centre Assessment Grades

    We are pleased to announce you will be able to input your centre assessment grades to the site at, using your usual logon details as of Monday 1st June 2020. The window for inputting centre assessment grades is 1st June – 12th June 2020.

    We have adapted our usual grade input system at to allow for centre assessment grades and have updated our guidance in a How to Guide. We are hoping that amending our current system will make the process of inputting grades smoother for centres as it is a system you are familiar with.

    Inputting Centre Assessment Grades – How To Guide

    If you have not already, please ensure you refer to Ofqual guidance about centre assessment grades, particularly their ‘Guidance for Heads of Centre, Heads of Department and teachers on objectivity in grading and ranking’ which can be found here…

    We are pleased to share two of four narrated presentations around the recent guidance for VQ certification this year.

    This first presentation gives a brief overview of certification, the new terminology being used, timelines for certification, as well as information on the upcoming data collection activity including the submission of Centre Assessment Grades.

    This second presentation gives an overview of the quality assurance flowchart, along with a more detailed look at Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the quality assurance process.

    Our third presentation offers guidance on RSL’s approach to moderation and the statistical analysis that will take place following the moderation stage.

    Please find below the fourth and final narrated presentation guiding centres through the recent guidance for VQ certification this year. This final presentation offers guidance on the RSL Assessment Board and the different actions RSL may take following this board that lead to certification.

    Please make sure to share these presentations, and the associated guidance documentation, with any colleagues at your centre who will be involved in the certification process. Please also see the YouTube descriptions to see timings for particular slides.

    Update: 21st May 2020

    Guidance on Certification

    Following our last correspondence to you on the 15th May 2020, we are writing to you to share our detailed guidance regarding certification for this year. We have put together two documents to support you with the process for this year.

    The first is ‘VQ Summary of Actions for Certification.’ This is a concise summary of the timelines and the steps that centres will need to take in order to certificate learners this year. This document is designed as an overview.

    RSL VQ Summary of Actions for Certification

    The second is a technical document, ‘RSL Centre Guide for Certification for the Academic Year 2019-20.’ This is a significantly more detailed document which outlines all the processes that will be followed this academic year.

    RSL VQ Centre Guide to Certification for Academic Year 2019-20

    There are also a large number of FAQs, which we hope will answer any questions you may have.

    Our IT team are continuing to work on the development of our submission system for the input of grades and we will update centres when this is available. We anticipate that this function will be available sooner than 1st June and as soon as our system is ready, we will contact all centres to let them know it is available to input the grades. Please do not input any grades until we ask you to.

    We will be creating a series of short videos to support the written documentation, which will summarise each of the stages. We will let centres know when they are available.

    If you have a question that cannot be answered by our FAQs, please contact the team via

    External Assessment Feedback

    This section of the email is in regards to centres with learners registered to complete externally assessed units this academic year. If this does not apply to you, please disregard this section.

    As we confirmed to you previously, centres will need to produce centre assessment grades for units which under ‘normal’ circumstances would be externally assessed. To support centres with generating centre assessment grades for externally assessed units, RSL External Assessors have reviewed the evidence submitted for outcomes which were identified by centres as complete. RSL External Assessors have provided feedback and provisional grades for these learning outcomes, which can be used to support centre assessment grades for the external units. These provisional grades will not be input into the RSL system and feedback sheets will be available for centres to download via the External Assessment section of the site, on the published external assessment results day of 21st May 2020. Please click here to find the previously sent FAQs which include a section on external assessment which will hopefully answer a number of your questions.

    To download the feedback sheets, the simplest way will be to download a ZIP file via the ‘External Assessments’ tool.

    • Select ‘External Assessments’ from the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the screen
    • Select the ‘External Assessment Results’ button then follow the onscreen instructions.
    • Alternatively, follow this link (you will need to sign in) and select the ‘External Assessment Results’ button.

    While every endeavour has been made to review outcomes marked as complete by centres, there may be some instances where a learner has not been reviewed or an incomplete outcome reviewed where it should not have been. As all feedback is in support of centre assessment grades, RSL assessors will not be reviewing any more learner work and any unseen evidence can be used to support centre assessment grades where you feel it is indicative of the relevant grade for that learner.

    Where evidence uploaded was inaccessible, we have not asked centres to reupload evidence as centres would be generating centre assessment grades. It was felt the time taken to reupload the evidence (often large video files) would be unnecessary when centres would be generating the grades themselves. If this applies to your centre, you should have received an email from us about it.

    Thank you for your continued patience during this difficult time.

    Update: 15th March 2020

    Following our correspondence on the 5th May 2020, we would like to provide you with an update on the certification of RSL qualifications this year. On the 14th May 2020, Ofqual published their Guidance for Centres for awarding vocational qualifications which you can find here…

    In our communication of the 5th May 2020, we confirmed centres will be asked to produce centre assessment grades for each learning outcome for each unit completed this year, and asked centres to focus on internally assessed units. We can now confirm that this approach will also apply to units which, under ‘normal’ circumstances, would be externally assessed.

    To support centres with generating centre assessment grades for externally assessed units, RSL External Assessors have reviewed the evidence submitted for outcomes which were identified by centres as complete. RSL External Assessors have provided feedback and provisional grades for these learning outcomes, which can be used to support centre assessment grades for the external units. These provisional grades will not be input into the RSL system and feedback sheets will be available for centres to download via the External Assessment section of the site, on the published external assessment results day of 21st May 2020.

    Centres will need to input their centre assessment grades for the externally assessed units in the same way as for internal units. We will update centres when our systems are ready to accept these grades, which will be by the 1st June 2020 at the latest.

    For centres who submitted a sample for EQA before lockdown but have not yet had their report, any sampling reports which have been completed but not yet released will be made available to centres on 21st May 2020.

    Since centre closures, RSL have been working diligently to produce a plan and support for centres to ensure as many learners can be certificated this summer as possible. Following the additional guidance released by Ofqual, and the end of their consultation on 8th May 2020, we are currently finalising our guidance for centres to ensure it reflects the most up to date information, provides as much detail and answers as many of your questions as it can. We will be making the guidance available to centres on Thursday 21st May 2020 via email and also on this web page.

    We appreciate centres are anxious to read the plans for certification and to support further, we have updated the FAQs we sent on the 5th May 2020, available via the button below. Please ensure you read the document carefully and pass on to any members of staff who may need this information.

    The deadline we set out in our email of the 5th May for submitting centre assessment grades between 1st and 12th June 2020 still stands and our IT team are working to ensure our system is able to support the new process of centre assessment grades.

    RSL Awards Guidance for VQ Centre Assessment Grades

    Please do not hesitate to contact us via

    Update: 5th March 2020

    Since the beginning of the lockdown period and the announcement that GCSE and A’ Level examinations would be cancelled for the academic year 2019/20, RSL has been working with Ofqual and other UK regulators to reach a solution which allows learners to progress on to further or higher education or into the workplace with the vocational qualifications and certificates they have worked so hard to achieve.

    Paramount in RSL’s approach is that no learner should be disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control, and at every stage during the formulation of our approach this has been at the forefront of our minds.

    RSL has now made Ofqual aware of its plan to calculate results and how we will approach the formulation of those grades. We await the conclusion of Ofqual’s consultation on ‘Exceptional Arrangements for Assessment and Grading in 2020’, the deadline for which is May 8th 2020.

    In advance of the feedback from the consultation, please read the statement below which outlines our approach and what steps you can begin to take in preparation for submitting data to RSL.

    RSL Awards Guidance for VQ Centre Assessment Grades

    In the meantime if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us via

    Free VQ Remote CPD Sessions – March 2021

    March 12th, 2021 by

    In February, we announced that we would be delivering free remote CPD sessions and releasing exemplar materials for the external assessment sessions.

    These are intended to support centres with assessment following the adaptation of these external units to internal units. We are pleased to tell you that these sessions are now live to book.

    We appreciate that not everybody will be able to attend the sessions due to timetable restrictions so each event will be recorded and released via the ‘Help and Support’ section of the RSL Cloud site once all the CPD sessions have finished. The exemplar materials will be made available at the same time.

    The events are one-hour online information sessions with an opportunity for questions at the end. The agenda will include guidance, example approaches including a review of exemplars and the opportunity to ask questions.

    To book onto a session, please select the appropriate link below:

    We look forward to seeing you there.

    For more information about all our Vocational Qualifications, please click here…

    Maintaining a balanced curriculum with RSL’s Vocational Qualifications

    July 16th, 2020 by

    As we progress towards the new academic year following what will have been a tumultuous 6 months of uncertainty, the conversation about the shape of the curriculum for this coming year is increasingly prominent.

    Many will have seen the concern expressed by a number of headteachers about the feasibility of continuing on ‘as normal’ with GCSEs and A-Levels, with the expectation that learners will take their full set of examinations in the Summer of 2021 as planned prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sadly, the narrative often turns to the reduction of GCSE subjects, with the Arts being identified as one of the primary victims.

    As an awarding body specialising in the Creative Industries, here at RSL Awards we see the positive impact of Arts education every day, be it in the form of a graded exam in Music or Dance, or in the schools, colleges and training providers working towards our practically-focused Vocational Qualifications.

    Since their inception in 2005, RSL’s Vocational Qualifications have become a popular alternative to the more traditional GCSE qualifications in Music, Dance and Drama. Equivalent in size to a GCSE, our Tech Awards are practical, creative and accessible to a wide range of learners, whilst retaining rigour and recognition. Instead of a written examination, these qualifications contain a controlled assessment in the Spring Term, alleviating some of the pressure of the end-loaded Summer exam period. With these qualifications potentially complete by the beginning of the Summer Term, learners are then able to focus on core curriculum at the climax of the academic year.

    Our Tech Awards carry Progress 8 points and sit in the Open Bucket alongside GCSEs in Music, Dance and Drama, offering equivalent value for the learner and for the school. Where these GCSEs are in danger of exclusion from the curriculum, the Tech Awards offer a solution that allows learners to balance core learning with the fundamental personal development offered through experiential creative learning.

    “In terms of data, Pupil Progress has improved dramatically and department residuals have been in the top 3 in school for the last 4 years. RSL assessment focuses on what the pupils can do, rather than penalising them for what they can’t. We now offer L1 and L2 Music Performance, L2 Technology & Composition and L2 Creative and Performing Arts (Acting). Staff and pupils really enjoy the RSL VQs and they have allowed us to tailor our curriculum provision so that it is relevant, accessible and purposeful to all our pupils, enabling them to be the best they can be.”

    Claire Maud (Head of Performing Arts, Clifton Community School) – excerpt taken from a recently published article in Music Teacher Magazine (June 2020).

    Rightly so, there is an increased focus on the mental health of learners returning to schools and colleges in September. Disruption has been experienced by everyone and will have affected people in a number of different ways, but we now need to do what we can to allow these learners to return to relative normality and to the balanced curriculum they deserve. The collaborative learning experienced through the Arts builds a sense of community that is arguably now more pertinent than ever before. A creative curriculum encourages both independence and teamwork, and builds confidence and communication through self-expression. This essential learning paves the way for those wanting to continue in the Creative Industries; a sector that contributed £111.7bn to the UK economy in 2018.

    “The arts help young people flourish. Evidence shows that children who study the arts tend to do better in other subjects; they are more likely to attend university, and are more employable.”

    ImagineNation: The value of Cultural Learning, Cultural Learning Alliance (2017)

    For more information on our Vocational Qualifications, please fill in the form below or contact

    Syllabus specifications for our Tech Award qualifications can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:

    Music Practitioners – Pathways in Performance or Technology & Composition

    Level 1 & 2 Tech Awards for Music Practitioners (Confirmed for DfE Performance Tables)

    Creative and Performing Arts – Pathways in Acting or Dance

    Level 1 & 2 Tech Awards in Creative and Performing Arts (Confirmed for DfE Performance Tables)

    All other syllabus downloads can be found here…

    “Cultural and arts education underpin success in life, work and society. I’m convinced that it is as important to ensure our best scientists and technologists understand the importance of creative skills as it is for our best creatives to contribute to science and technology. The digital world of the 21st century is crying out for well-rounded students who can see that a separation of STEM from culture and arts simply doesn’t make sense anymore.”

    Mary Curnock Cook – Chief Executive, UCAS (2017)

    For more information on our Vocational Qualifications, please fill in the form below contact


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