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Everything you need to know about Ofqual and TEFL

So what is Ofqual?

Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) is the UK government department responsible for regulating qualifications, and their providers, in England. They make sure that courses and qualifications are of a good standard and that they are fit for purpose (which basically means they actually do what they say they will – e.g. get people qualified to teach English as a foreign language!)

Ofqual regulates vocational, as well as academic, qualifications. And this includes courses in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Are all UK TEFL qualifications regulated by Ofqual?

No! Only a small number of TEFL providers are able to offer an Ofqual regulated qualification, as many don’t meet the minimum requirements to achieve Ofqual’s seal of approval.

Sneaky plug: i-to-i’s Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language was the first TEFL qualification in the UK to get the Ofqual stamp of approval. And, yes, we’re very proud of that!

When is a TEFL qualification given approval by Ofqual?

Ofqual regulated qualifications (in Ofqual’s own words) “reliably indicate the knowledge, skills and understanding students have demonstrated”. In practice this means that a provider of a TEFL qualification must be able to demonstrate rigorous quality assurance and assessment processes before Ofqual will accept it onto its Register.

This should mean that only students who have the appropriate skills and knowledge are awarded the qualification. Which we reckon is a good thing!

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What are the Ofqual levels?

Every qualification regulated by Ofqual is set at one of nine levels – starting at entry level and moving up through to Level 8. The higher the level, the more difficult the qualification.

So if you have a grade 1-3 in music, for example, that counts as a Level 1 qualification. Or if you’re the proud holder of a PhD, you’ve achieved the golden peaks of a Level 8 qualification!

What qualifications are at each Ofqual level?

There are loads of individual qualifications at each level. But, to give you a rough idea:

  • Basic skills are Ofqual entry level qualifications
  • GCSE at grades 3-1 / D-G is Ofqual Level 1
  • GCSE at grades 9-4 / A*-C is Ofqual Level 2
  • A level, AS level or International Baccalaureate diploma is Ofqual Level 3
  • Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) or NVQ level 4 is Ofqual Level 4
  • Diploma of Higher Education or a foundation degree is Ofqual Level 5
  • An ordinary degree (with or without honours) is Ofqual Level 6
  • A Masters’ degree or a PGCE is Ofqual Level 7
  • A doctorate or a level 8 diploma is Ofqual Level 8

What Ofqual level is a TEFL certificate?

Regulated TEFL certificates usually fall under either a Level 3 (so A-level standard) or a Level 5 (Foundation degree standard) on the Ofqual scale.

i-to-i provides both a Ofqual-regulated Level 3 120hour TEFL Certificate, which is great for entry level TEFL positions and volunteer TEFL placements both abroad and online. We also have a range of Level 5 qualifications, including our Level 5 500-hour Advanced TEFL Diploma, which is our most comprehensive TEFL qualification yet and is perfect for accessing those higher TEFL salaries and ensuring you have access to a wide range of TEFL positions!

It’s also worth mentioning that the CELTA qualification is also classified as a Level 5 qualification by Ofqual. So, our Level 5 500-hour Advanced Diploma is categorised at the same education level as a CELTA but is considerably cheaper, has a much more flexible study schedule, and will train you to teach a range of different ages, rather than just adult learners (which the CELTA is limited to).

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I have been traveling and teaching ESL abroad ever since I graduated university. This life choice has taken me around the world and allowed me to experience cultures and meet people that I did not know existed.

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