What does an awarding organisation do?

At the simplest level, an awarding organisation has three key functions:

  1. To develop qualifications that fulfil a known industry need … that means developing the structure, content (or syllabus) and assessment based on nationally recognised standards approved by employers and Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and Standard Setting Bodies (SSBs).
  2. To provide external quality assurance and assessment of qualifications to its approved Centres … by supporting qualification delivery, ensuring consistency and encouraging best practice, the awarding organisation ensures learners achieve the standard required by industry.
  3. To award certificates to each learner who successfully achieves a qualification … only when the awarding organisation has ensured that the learner has met the criteria will they issue an official, nationally recognised certificate.

Additionally, some awarding organisations offer a range of supporting services, tailored to the needs of their customers and the industries they serve.

Is there a difference between an ‘awarding organisation’ and an ‘awarding body’?

No, both terms refer to the same thing.  However, since recent reforms in the vocational education system, ‘awarding organisation’ is now the correct and accepted terminology to use.

Is there any difference between different awarding organisations?

Yes, there is a vast difference.  These are just some of the ways in which awarding organisations differ, and why your choice of awarding organisation is so important:

  • The level of industry/sector input into qualifications … this is essential to ensure the qualifications offered are real skills needs in the workplace and recognised by employers and industry bodies.  Some awarding organisations are specialists in certain areas whilst others offer a vast range of qualifications but without the same level of employer/industry input or support.
  • The level of dedicated expert support in the delivery of the qualifications offered … some awarding organisations have reduced the cost of their qualifications by minimising the level of support they offer, thereby passing on the burden of quality assurance to their Centres as well as the risk of sanctions that can be raised if quality standards are not met.  Others have taken the approach of providing advice and guidance from dedicated, industry experts and support that is tailored to each Centre and focused on improving performance, encouraging best practice and growing the Centre’s business.
  • The provision of support materials … an increasing number of the larger awarding organisations no longer offer support materials within their package.  In some cases a further payment or annual subscription is needed to access supporting material.  Other awarding organisations provide access to these support materials without charge, helping to reduce preparation time and ensure consistency across all providers.
  • The quality of support materials … the level of detail and guidance in the support materials provided has a direct impact on the preparation time and level of internal Centre resources needed to deliver a qualification.  Some awarding organisations provide the bare minimum and require Centres to develop their own materials, whilst a number provide comprehensive support materials that are regularly updated, and include samples schemes of work, practical guidance and assessment documentation.
  • The flexibility and responsiveness of systems and processes … this is fundamental to meeting the varying needs of employers and learners.  From gaining approval to offer a qualification, to scheduling and delivering exams and receiving your learners’ final certificates, the effectiveness of your awarding organisation’s services can be the difference between delivering your programme on time, or falling short of your customers’ expectations.
  • The pricing package … if the price seems too good to be true, it undoubtedly is.  Recently, some awarding organisations have started to offer low cost packages which exclude many of the services and materials traditionally offered by awarding organisations, meaning that Centres must develop and maintain these in-house.  For some Centres, this may offer advantages, but it is important to consider whether taking on these activities in-house is feasible and weigh up the cost equivalent and impact on quality.  Additionally, some awarding organisations charge individually for each part of their service, whilst others offer a complete package price.

How do I choose the right awarding organisation?

Your choice of awarding organisation can have a major impact on how effectively you are able to deliver qualifications, the level of administration and co-ordination your own staff will need to undertake and the success of your learners.  In recent months, changes in funding structures have led many awarding organisations to cut back radically on the quality and level of service and support they offer their Centres and employers.  This makes your choice even more important.

Whilst we can’t tell you how to make that decision, there are some important factors that you should take into consideration.

Here are some of the questions you should ask:

  • How is the price package structured – will it help me to budget or leave me vulnerable to hidden costs?
  • What level of support will be available from our External Quality Assurer (EQA) – will they be available to work with us to find solutions and improve our provision or will we be left to our own devices with the threat that sanctions could be raised if we do not achieve required standards?
  • Will we be allocated a dedicated EQA?  Will we be given their direct contact details?
  • How knowledgeable will our EQAbe about the industry and specific business area we work in?  Will they understand the challenges we face?
  • What support materials will be provided and are they freely available or subject to additional charges?
  • To what extent will the support materials guide us through the process of delivery and assessment?  Will they help to relieve the operational burden of preparation and assessment or will there be gaps that we need to fill ourselves?
  • What flexibility is there in registering learners, scheduling exams and claiming certificates?
  • Can I see recent testimonials and evidence of customer experience (e.g. customer satisfaction surveys)?

It is also worth trying to calculate the potential real cost of each qualification by taking the fee from the awarding organisation, and considering the added costs of developing your own support materials and documentation (if these are not offered), as well as shouldering an additional quality assurance burden on top of assessment and internal verification (if full EQA support is not provided).

Why should I choose EAL over a ‘big name’ awarding organisation?

With employers in the engineering, manufacturing, building services and related sectors, EAL is respected and acknowledged as the most industry-relevant awarding organisation.  It is also the fifth largest awarding organisation in the UK and the largest awarding organisation for engineering qualifications.  Other awarding organisations are not able to deliver the expertise, sector focus and coverage that EAL offers its customers through the widest portfolio of engineering and manufacturing, building services and related qualifications.

Are EAL qualifications recognised by trade associations and professional bodies?

EAL works with a wide range of industry bodies to ensure its qualifications are recognised by employers and provide learners with a stamp of quality that can enhance their career prospects.

EAL collaborates with Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and Standards Setting Bodies (SSBs) including:

    Enginuity (The Science, Engineering, Manufacturing and Technologies Alliance)
    SummitSkills (building services engineering)
    Energy & Utility Skills
    Council for Administration (business skills)
    Skills for Logistics
    Lifelong Learning UK
    Port Skills and Safety.

EAL qualifications are recognised for professional development and grading schemes by organisations including:

    Engineering Council
    Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET)
    Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
    The Welding Institute (TWI)
    Institute of Cast Metal Engineers (ICME)
    Institute of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM)
    Society of Operations Engineers (SOE)
    Scottish Engineering
    Association of Welding and Fabrication Engineering and Training (AWFTE)
    Joint Industry Board (JIB) for electrical contracting
    Joint Industry Board (JIB) for plumbing and heating engineers
    Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA)
    National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC)
    Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers (CIPHE)
    Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)
    Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA)
    Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA).

You can find further information in the sectors area of this website.

What support materials does EAL provide for Centres to deliver its qualifications?

EAL’s support materials are designed to improve delivery and reduce preparation time for Centres.  These are tailored to each qualification, and can include:

  • qualification manuals, providing everything an approved or potential Centre needs to know in term of delivery and assessment requirements to offer a qualification
  • learner manuals, supporting the induction process by explaining the methods of assessment to learners and giving ideas of how they might produce evidence to meet the requirements
  • unit documentation, allowing both learners and Centre staff to record progress through a qualification by detailing performance to be assessed and evidence requirements for competence units, or learning outcomes and assessment requirements for knowledge units
  • delivery advice, with unit-specific guidance that can be used to support and inform Centres’ development of schemes of work and learning plans
  • assessment plans and evidence records, supporting effective and holistic assessment planning and cross tracking of learner evidence against the qualification standards
  • assignments that are set by EAL and marked by Centres to assess learners’ knowledge of certain units
  • presentation slides, tailored to individual units so that they can support preparation of Centre learning materials and can be adapted for presentations, hand outs and formative assessments
  • external assessments set and marked by EAL, and available either onscreen or as paper based exams. These are supported by free practice papers to help prepare learners for the final exam.

For more details, please contact our Customer Services Team.

My company has offices overseas.  Can they take EAL qualifications outside the UK?

Yes, we work with a variety of multinational companies and organisations based overseas that deliver both accredited qualifications and bespoke training programmes with EAL.  For more details, please contact our Customer Services Team.

My customer has skills needs that existing qualifications don’t support.  Can EAL help?

Yes.  There are two ways in which EAL works with employers, Centres and other industry organisations to provide accredited qualifications that meet sector needs:

  • EAL can provide a stamp of approval and quality mark for in-house training courses.  The result is an award that, although it is not nationally accredited, is recognised and approved by EAL as an external expert organisation on training and assessment within the industry.  Providers can gain a recognised mark of quality for their in-house development programmes, while successful learners gain a bespoke certificate carrying both EAL and employer/Centre/organisation logos that can boost their profile and improve their esteem and changes of career progression.
  • EAL can work with employers and industry organisations to develop and seek national recognition for a new qualification to serve an emerging need or identified skills gap.  The process calls on EAL’s expertise in qualification development to secure the backing of the SSC or SSB, and negotiate the process of regulatory approval.  The result is a nationally recognised qualification that can be available to all or restricted to a certain employer to enhance skills, provide competitive advantage and support staff development.

For more details, please contact our Customer Services Team.

My company only has a small number of learners.  Can we become an EAL Centre?

Yes, there is no minimum requirement to become an EAL recognised Centre, and we offer the same level of support, advice and guidance to small and micro providers as we do to large colleges and multi-national companies.

How can I get a copy of the new ‘EAL Recognised Centre’ logo?

If you are an EAL recognised Centre, you are entitled to use the new ‘EAL Recognised’ logo on your premises and in your marketing materials.  To request the 'EAL Recognised' logo please contact customer services on +44 (0)1923 652400.