Ways in which to learn and gain qualifications are changing, courses are now more flexible and there is a broader range to choose from. It can be quite confusing, but these pages will help you by explaining the different qualifications and levels.
HCT specialises in offering vocational programmes. These are courses, often with a large practical element, on which you will learn about specific crafts and industry. This approach enables learners to develop skills relevant to the workplace or entry in to higher education, often gaining a range of industry specific qualifications during the course.
Entry Level Courses
These courses are suitable for people who have finished school, have few or no formal qualifications and may have learning difficulties. Extra support may be required to assist learning. From entry level courses, learners can progress onto Level 1 courses in their chosen area.
Level 1 Courses
Level 1 courses are full time and are usually completed over 1 year. Learners will need to show enthusiasm and commitment to the programme. Successful completion can then lead to the study of Level 2 courses, either studying full time in college or for an apprenticeship.
Note: a further year of level 1 study may be required when progressing to a specific trade or apprenticeship programme.
Level 2 Diplomas
These Level 2 (intermediate) courses are full time and completed over 1 year. They are the equivalent to 4-5 GCSEs at grade C or above. You will usually be required to have some GCSEs at grades D-G to start a course at this level, or to have successfully completed a Level 1 programme. Level 2 Diploma courses have an emphasis on practical, work-related projects and assignments. You will develop skills that will help you either start your career or progress onto a Level 3 qualification.
Subsidiary Diplomas, Diplomas and Extended Diplomas
The Subsidiary Diploma is equivalent to 1 A level qualification* (usually 1 year’s full-time study), the Diploma (1 or 2 years’ full-time study dependant upon subject) is equivalent to two A level qualifications* and the Extended Diploma (usually 2 years’ full-time study) is equivalent to three A level qualifications*.
Extended Diplomas are full Level 3 (advanced) courses. They are widely accepted by universities as an entry qualification. These courses will give you a broad-based vocational understanding of your chosen career. You will usually be required to have 4 GCSEs at grades A-C, a Level 2 Diploma or a Level 2 workbased Diploma for entry onto a course at this level.
* Exact equivalents will depend on grade achieved and UCAS points gained.
Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs) and Foundation Degrees
These are level 4 programmes and usually take two years to complete. These are known as ‘Higher Education’ courses. See Higher Education section.
Foundation Degrees are qualifications designed with employers and combine academic study with workplace learning to equip people with the relevant knowledge, understanding and skills to improve performance and productivity.
NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications)
NVQs relate to real work, testing how competent you are in carrying out the tasks of a particular job. You will be required to produce a portfolio of evidence. Normally you will need to be in work to study an NVQ. The work should relate to the NVQ subject area. There are NVQs for almost every occupation.
NVQ's can be gained at 5 levels:
- Level 1 – Basic / Foundation level skills are assessed, most of which may be routine in the chosen job.
- Level 2 – Craft / Practical levels skills are assessed, the equivalent to GCSEs at grade C or above.
- Level 3 – Technician / Supervisory level. This is the equivalent to 2 A-Levels or AVCE Double Award. Activities are mainly complex and non-routine.
- Level 4 - Higher Technician, Junior Management.
- Level 5 - Professional, Middle Management.
See Apprenticeships section
The majority of our qualifications are approved by the Quality Curriculum Authority, which means they are nationally recognised qualifications. They are accredited through nationally recognised awarding bodies or higher educational establishments, for example; Edexcel, NPTC, OCR (Oxford and Cambridge Royal Society of Arts) and City & Guilds.