Authority response to the Framework Implementation and Impact Study
The Authority has finalised, May 2010, its formal response to the Framework Implementation and Impact Study and its recommendations. This response sets out the main areas in which work is already underway, such as on learning outcomes and the recognition of qualifications, and those areas in which specific or additional efforts are now required to meet priority needs, such as in relation to the labour market, standards development, the recognition of prior learning and a re-visiting of progression and the effective comparability of awards at Levels 4-6. The follow-up actions and considerations are outlined in the Authority response here.
Given the broad strategic direction of the Study, and mindful of the impending amalgamation of qualifications and quality assurance agencies, the Authority worked with each of the key stakeholder bodies to identify and institute follow-up actions. The Irish Universities Association, the Further Education and Training Awards Council, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment each prepared a response to the Study, available below.
Responses to the Study by:
Framework Implementation and Impact Study
The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland has published on 8th September 2009 the Framework Implementation and Impact Study Report, which was prepared by an external Study Team of national and international experts. The Team was chaired by Professor Tom Collins, Dean of Teaching and Learning and Professor of Education, National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
The Study covers the first five years (2003-08) of the operation of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and its purpose was to:
- assess the extent to which the NFQ is being implemented
- support deeper implementation of the NFQ and policies on access, transfer and progression
- identify progress in implementation
- identify gaps and drivers/obstacles in respect of implementation
- assess the initial impact of the NFQ.
The Study Report notes ‘that the Framework is an ambitious and major undertaking, aiming as it does to encapsulate the full spectrum of education and training, both lifelong and life-wide’ and that ‘it has established itself in a relatively short period of time with a high level of prominence on the landscape of Irish education and training’. The Report also draws attention ‘to the centrally-driven nature of the Framework ; its role in creating a new currency; issues of trust and stability, and the cultural lag in insinuating the Framework in teaching and assessment’. It notes ‘the tension between an outcomes-based approach to qualifications and an education and training system largely predicated on inputs’. It also emphasises the continued importance of the communication of the NFQ in maintaining its visibility and success.
The Study Report contains a total of 19 recommendations. These are addressed to the Qualifications Authority, which commissioned the Study, and other stakeholders, as appropriate. The Report, including the 19 recommendations, will provide a basis for the continued development and implementation of the NFQ. The recommendations address the overall management and operation of the Framework as well as particular actions to advance its implementation, impact and responsiveness to learner needs. The Qualifications Authority will consider the Report’s findings and recommendations in the coming months and will work in partnership with key stakeholders to identify and institute appropriate follow-up actions. This will take account of on-going work and existing strategic objectives in relation to the NFQ.
In considering the Report, the Qualifications Authority will be mindful of the Government’s proposal to amalgamate the Qualifications Authority and the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC), and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC). The new qualifications and quality assurance body will take over the role of custodianship of the NFQ from the Qualifications Authority, and in this context, the Report will be a key document in informing the work of the new body. This has already been acknowledged by the Department of Education and Science in its Consultation paper on the amalgamation, which was published in May 2009.
The Qualifications Authority wishes to place on record its gratitude to Professor Tom Collins and his colleagues on the Study Team for completing the report in a timely and informed manner.
Click here for the Report of the Study
Background and inputs to the Study
In 2008, the Qualifications Authority commissioned an external Team of national and international experts to undertake a study on the implementation and impact of the National Framework of Qualifications and the associated policies for access, transfer and progression for learners. It was undertaken in the period Spring 2008 to Summer 2009. The Study focused on the work of the Authority, awarding bodies and providers of education and training.
The Terms of Reference for the Study set out its scope and objectives. It comprised the following elements:
- Background paper on the development, implementation and impactof the Framework, policies on access, transfer and progression, and assessment of impact by the Authority
Reports from key stakeholder bodies responsible for implementing the Framework in the schooling, HETAC, FETAC and university sectors. These were compiled by respectively the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) , the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC),and the Irish Universities Association (IUA)
As part of its work, the Study Team convened a Consultative Forum on 18 November 2008. The Forum informed the Study Team of findings from the sectoral reports and case studies; and enabled it to tease out issues and themes with stakeholders through presentations, questions and answers, and workshops. Further information on the forum, including presentations, can be found here.