The HTRT Qualifications Framework

UPDATE May 2013

Following the Headteachers’ Roundtable Conference at Passmores Academy in Harlow on April 26th, the HTRT Qualifications Framework has now been finalised.  Following a range of comments on the previous version, the model has been adapted to be more fully inclusive of all learners, specifically young people for whom Entry Level Qualifications are their most likely terminal outcomes.  The key change is to change the scale to a 1-8 scale so that all learning can be captured on one scale, from Early Years upwards. The key diagrams are shown below, with a full pdf downloadable here:

The Headteachers Roundtable Qualifications Framework Proposal Final

At the Passmores conference HTRT agreed that this model represents a vision for a Qualifications Framework that could be implemented in the future.  As such, it is illustrative. Some of the finer details – the grades, the points system and the permutations for each Bacc Award – are included to suggest possibilities and would naturally require considerable further development and consultation. We recognise that this is a long way from where we are now.

The next steps are as follows:

1) The HTRT model here will not be developed further at this point.

2) The key elements of the model will be formulated into a policy proposal, with the intention of seeking to influence policy developments by all parties in this area. See below.

3) HTRT will work with others, including the group Whole Education to develop a working model of our proposal  - a ‘working Bacc’ – that is based entirely on existing qualifications and structures. This will enable pathfinder schools to trial the notion of an inclusive Baccalaureate Framework in their schools.  This work will commence with a working party meeting on June 6th.  We will report back on developments from this meeting.

UPDATE:  This work is now presented in this post. 

The HTRT Qualifications Framework is summarised here:

The Headteachers' Roundtable Graded Qualifications Framework

The Headteachers’ Roundtable Graded Qualifications Framework

The over-arching terminal Baccalaureate Awards are illustrated here.  More complex permutations that allow students to take qualifications across the key tiers are not shown (because they are difficult to represent simply) but maximising the range of permutations is fundamental to the model.

The HTRT Baccalaureate Awards

The HTRT Baccalaureate Awards

Headteachers’ Roundtable Qualifications Framework Policy:

The Qualifications Framework for England should be developed to include the following features:

  1. It should be one system inclusive of all learners.
  2. It should allow for traditional academic, technical and vocational learning to be integrated into one framework.
  3. It should include core learning in Maths and English at every level with a guarantee of curriculum breadth for all learners over time.
  4. It should include core experiences and learning opportunities that capture the ideas of a rounded education, personal and extended learning and achievement beyond examinations.
  5. It should facilitate the construction of a universal transcript enabling all learners to record all of their achievements over time, informing transition and progress mapping at all stages.

We believe that, with existing qualifications, this policy would be easy to implement in most schools and colleges and would represent a significant enhancement on the current system.

Transcript Examples

The following transcripts are just two of the many possibilities, to illustrate the principles underpinning the HTRT model:

A typical L3 BTEC student

Advanced Tech Bacc student.

Advanced Tech Bacc student.

And a typical A level student.

Advanced Baccalaureate.

Advanced Baccalaureate.

31 thoughts on “The HTRT Qualifications Framework

  1. [...] A group of Head Teachers, with support from others, has developed a new qualifications framework for use in English schools and colleges: The HTRT Qualifications Framework. [...]

  2. Rob Anthony May 6, 2013 at 9:08 am Reply

    I don’t understand why it is necessary to distinguish between a Bacc and a Tech Bacc. If students have achieved the same depth of learning at the same standard, what does it matter if it is academic or vocational? This creates a false dichotomy – it’s all learning. The certificate shows where a student achieved their credits so just call it a Bacc.

    There are many students who like to split learning between vocational and academic. Distinguishing between the two on the certificate makes this harder to achieve and will continue the feeling that one is better than the other.

    • headteachersroundtable May 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm Reply

      It’s a fair question and one that is commonly raised. However, there are two main reasons for maintaining the Tech Bacc.
      1) If, for example, we try to sell the idea that doing three A levels is ‘equivalent’ to doing a highly specialised L3 vocational industry-led qualification, it raises too many questions. There is a major risk that, in order to satisfy regulators or employers that the equivalence is sufficiently rigorous, that the technical qualifications will be forced to be more and more examination orientated. That would be counterproductive. Preserving a Tech Bacc descriptor protects the idea of a different type of learning that has high status within a broad framework, with core elements that are the same.
      2) Both the Government and the Labour Party have made a Tech Bacc part of their policy thinking already. It is helpful to lasso that idea into an inclusive framework in order to gain acceptance for the over-arching concept. In that sense, it is a case of picking battles.

      • Rob Anthony May 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        Hmm, avoiding the argument with the government and Labour Party only makes sense if the concepts are sound. The Bacc concept as proposed by the current government is not sensible for many reasons. The knee-jerk reaction to develop an alternative (Tecc Bacc) is folly built upon folly. To reinforce this and build it in to an alternative proposal doesn’t make me feel that progress is being made.

        It might be politically realistic to end up in this position following negotiation but do not start here. Start with a single Bacc qualification and argue your case. It is a case that it sensible and logical and avoids the historical issues of ‘vocational is less valued than academic’ that has plagued our educational system. If Germany et al can offer a Masters Degree in plumbing, why can’t we?

      • headteachersroundtable May 6, 2013 at 5:35 pm

        Again, this point of view is well-rehearsed and has been considered in some detail. However, there is another view that, in the interests of developing outstanding, high-prestige technical/vocational qualifications that can be offered in schools, colleges and a range of work-based learning environments, a specialised Technical Baccalaureate, with both distinctive and unifying features is a positive move. We are in the process of sharing policy ideas with groups representing employers, unions and FE colleges..and this issue will be raised directly. In our ‘working Bacc’, which we hope schools will pioneer over the next couple of years, this will be an area where we’ll need on-the-ground feedback. Thanks for the comment.

      • headteachersroundtable June 8, 2013 at 4:46 pm

        Hi Rob
        Just to update you, our most recent work on a Bacc Framework for schools and colleges to trial has now resolved this issue to a large extent. The specialist Tech qualifications that exist now fit within a completely common framework whilst retaining their distinctiveness as stand alone qualifications. It’s a better fit.. We’ll be putting this out soon, subject to some edits.
        Regards
        Tom Sherrington, HTRT

  3. James Bowkett May 6, 2013 at 9:27 pm Reply

    Better than the previous model, although still lacking the simplicity that enduring models have in any sphere. However, I thoroughly agree with Rob in that to differentiate a Tech Bacc is to perpetuate 1st and 2nd rate in many eyes.

  4. mariusfrank May 7, 2013 at 9:49 am Reply

    Interesting points, Rob and James.
    Perhaps a good compromise would be to articulate this framework as flexible enough to accomodate academic, vocational/technical and mixed learning pathways… which indeed it does. The labels “Ad” and “Tech” are there merely to pull in supportersd of both pathways and all politicsal ines of thinking… there is no distinction made.

    Perhaps it is simply a matter of presentation:

    If the coloured bars say “Advanced, Intermediate, Foundation, etc” in bold, but then, in brackets, state (academic / technical / vocational / professional), it may look better?

  5. behrfacts May 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm Reply

    I think a major cultural shift is required in England to eliminate the academic vs technical divide so agree with the HTRT strategy for the medium-term. You can’t turn back decades within a few years – Tomlinson tried and failed even under a ‘sympathetic’ administration. Some shoots of progress are happening in specific sectors/subject areas (such as STEM) and with the advance of better quality apprenticeships. Keep at it folks!

  6. Ian O'Donnell May 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm Reply

    As an apprentice trained, graduate engineer and now Headteacher, I cannot understand why our politicians seem incapable of realising that it is perfectly reasonable for bright students to want to study technical and vocationally relevant qualifications and not A levels. University is still a destination open to you if you make this choice at 16. Please let’s have a mixed economy of qualifications and value professionally recognised voc’ qual’s as these often fit better with what the CBI value.

  7. DrDav May 10, 2013 at 7:10 am Reply

    One thing that, as a science educator, slightly concerns me is that a basic science qualification (‘Science for the citizen’ perhaps) is not included in the core. I think that it is very important that everyone should be able to understand the science that they meet in their everyday lives, and be able to make informed decisions about them. One example of why this is needed is the current measles epidemics in the UK.

  8. […] McGill, I’ve become a contributor to the Guardian Teacher Network and I’ve joined the Headteachers’ Roundtable group, which has provided a superb forum for taking forward ideas about our qualifications […]

  9. Julie Lilly (@JulesLilly) May 11, 2013 at 9:40 am Reply

    Really proud of the work we have done to get to this point. @headguruteacher has done a sterling job in bringing it all together.

    Primary colleagues at the HTRT meetings have stressed the need for the framework to start at EYFS; providing a continuous, cohesive and inclusive accountability framework which children, parents, professionals and the general public will understand.

    I welcome the collaboration with @WholeEducation and wonder whether there has been any joint working with the folk who are devising the ‘Modern Bacc’ http://www.modbac.info/

    Personally, I do not like the term ‘entry level’, as it implies ‘You don’t belong to the club yet.’ I would suggest the following:

    EYFS & KS1 stage (up to Level 2 or whatever measure is decided upon) to be called ‘Foundation Baccalaureate’. This makes sense in terms of the current terminology ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’. It describes the intent – being the foundation for future learning in the baccalaureate, and would present an opportunity to develop the good practice/pedagogy of the EYFS into KS1.

    (Level 3 to Level 6) be called ‘Elementary Baccalaureate’. The word ‘Elementary’ meaning ‘pertaining to rudiments, or first principles’, or ‘relating to the most rudimentary aspects of a subject’. This seems to me to be an appropriate way of describing what Primary pupils or Secondary SEN pupils would be doing.

    and then, Intermediate and Advanced as suggested in model.

    Would be interested to hear what others think!

  10. Raising The Bar. | headguruteacher May 12, 2013 at 1:16 am Reply

    […] This area has been a dog’s breakfast with an increasingly fragmented system.  Hopefully the Headteachers’ Roundtable model, with the support of others like Whole Education and colleagues in FE and HE, will help to direct […]

  11. Chris Chivers (@ChrisChivers2) May 12, 2013 at 9:32 am Reply

    Primary structures don’t need changing; EYFS, KS1 and 2 work well as descriptors.

    However, the pedagogy needs to be explored deeply, across all subjects, but especially with regard to reading.

    The prevailing practice in Primary schools is guided reading, where one group may have detailed contact with a teacher for up to 20-30 minutes per week. This is teacher controlled, in timing, book choice and follow up. In best practice it can have significant impact. Poorly handled, it becomes a possible handicap to progress. Challenge mismatch, poor preparation, limited individualised intervention, limited opportunity to read book between sessions. Can be exacerbated by poor parent support.

    As the saying goes, it’s not rocket science. Put the right, challenging “stuff” in front of learners, give them time and opportunity to think for themselves and engage in articulate discussion to clarify thinking, then sufficient time to work on a satisfactory product that reflects the best quality work they can achieve, which they and the teacher can evaluate to suggest improvements for next time.

    Level 3 children can read and write. Perhaps not quite well enough for complete secondary success, but can we stop the myth that they can’t? we need them to keep working at it.

  12. Raising the bar May 13, 2013 at 8:42 am Reply

    […] sense.) This area has been a dog’s breakfast with an increasingly fragmented system. Hopefully the Headteachers’ Roundtable model, with the support of others like Whole Education and colleagues in FE and HE, will help to direct […]

  13. June Smith May 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm Reply

    To ‘Headteachers’ Roundtable’ – As a genuine question – can you isolate anything here that is genuinely new and has not been said by others? Much of what you say I agree with but the problem is that many people and groups are already saying the same thing with more clout and clarity. I cannot see why you are claiming these ideas as yours or what your role in this debate is. I am too busy teaching to engage with a group that doesn’t have a function and purpose – so please persuade me of yours, your website so far does not convince and at present I agree with Betty’s comments on your about page.

  14. Les Gower May 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm Reply

    This curriculum proposal seems to be a positive and welcome contribution that is bringing back much that is good about the grammar system, a system that should be re-expanded nation wide, to all schools. I am so pleased to see grammar headteachers so heavily represented in this group. A welcome voice from ‘small c’ conservatives. I especially wonder if our newest, positive force on the centre-right ‘UKIP’ may be willing to engage closely with these ideas and with you as a forum, although I understand the importance of engaging with all parties.

    • headteachersroundtable May 19, 2013 at 9:29 pm Reply

      Dear Les, for clarification, there is only one Grammar School Head in the group. The other schools are comprehensive schools, faith schools, primary and special schools, some of which are academies- both the new and old types. In a small group, we have quite a mix. The group is non-political and it appears you may have mis-read the content of what has been said here in making this comment.

  15. […] The HTRT Qualifications Framework […]

  16. […] Then things moved on:  The Headteachers’ Roundtable formed, ran an alternative  consultation on the EBC issue and then held a conference.  I presented my ideas alongside other people’s and we then started to work on an alternative.  I think the alternative is very powerful.  It includes the idea of progressive grades, along the lines of Piano Grades, to measure attainment.  With input from Special and Primary Heads, we devised a model that could be a universal framework for assessment across the system.  It is recorded on the Headteachers’ Roundtable site here. […]

  17. […] Then things moved on:  The Headteachers’ Roundtable formed, ran an alternative  consultation on the EBC issue and then held a conference. I presented my ideas alongside other people’s and we then started to work on an alternative together. I think the solution we came up with is very powerful. It includes the idea of progressive grades, along the lines of Piano Grades, to measure attainment. With input from Special and Primary Heads, we devised a model that could be a universal framework for assessment across the system. It is recorded on the Headteachers’ Roundtable site here. […]

  18. No Level Up! | Teaching and Nerding June 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm Reply

    […] around the country, an immensely interesting piece of work is being carried out by the Headteacher’s Rountable and their HTRT Qualifications Framework. The proposed framework is a very well informed and a thoughtfully constructed pathway, it is […]

  19. […] The HTRT graded qualifications framework is explained in more detail here […]

  20. […] The first is because a high profile report was published today by the Sutton Trust on all students taking maths up to age 18 in England. This is familiar territory for many of us involved with mathematics education and who remember the Smith Report of 2004. It explored post16 pathways for mathematics in parallel with the Tomlinson review of 14-19 education (note: the group Headteachers’ Roundtable are revisiting the latter with a proposed English Baccalaureate frame…). […]

  21. […] The Headteachers’ Roundtable proposed Baccalaureate, designed largely by Tom, is gaining traction. See if you can spot the Chair of OFQUAL in my presentation – she met with Tom last week, at her request, to chat through the HTRT Baccalaureate’s finer points. We’re seeing the profession influencing policy-making like never before. Frankly, we don’t mind which political party adopts the Headteachers’ Roundtable Baccalaureate; we’re on our students’ side. […]

  22. […] maybe it is up to the silent majority to organise and speak out. It is less than a year since the Headteachers' Roundtable started a bottom-up movement for change and now they are developing and piloting their own […]

  23. […] maybe it is up to the silent majority to organise and speak out. It is less than a year since the Headteachers’ Roundtable started a bottom-up movement for change and now they are developing and piloting their own […]

  24. […] and blogging which has met with Stephen Twigg to outline what are, in my view, credible alternative qualifications/curriculum and accountability proposals. Twitter and edublogging pedagogy will spread beyond the reach of the […]

  25. […] is where a real English Baccalaureate may help things by encouraging a broader choice of subjects post16, particularly if proposed […]

  26. […] The HTRT Qualifications Framework […]

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