Qualification Levels

Riverside college library learning resource centre

How do you like to learn?

Everyone likes to learn in different ways. Some people are good with their hands and prefer practical courses while others are more academic.

The way you enjoy learning and the qualifications that you already have will have an influence on the type of course that you choose to study at Riverside College.

At Riverside College we have a wide range of vocational courses that can put you on course for the career of your choice. The table below will help you to decide what type and level of course is right for you.
 

Maths and English

As a school leaver (16-18), you will study maths and English as part of your programme, plus you may study personal and social development.

Your GCSE grades in maths and English are very important in determining the level of English and maths you will complete, alongside the results of an assessment you will complete during your first half term. Those leaving school with GCSE grades D in maths or English may be given the opportunity to re-sit the exam.

English and maths qualifications are widely recognised by employers and universities, and are essential skills that will help you succeed on your course and in the future. Employers are keen to recruit staff with strong maths and English skills so this part of your course will be central to your career progression. Achieving these qualifications also counts towards your full qualification.
 

Which qualification should I choose?

The table below shows you the entry requirements for each level and the vocational qualifications you can choose to study at each level.

Here is a description of the different types of qualifications detailed in the table to help you decide on the right course for you:

  • NVQ courses are very practical or technical job specific courses. You will pass the course by completing a portfolio of work and practical assessments.
  • BTEC courses are a mixture of classroom and project study relating to a specific industry. You will pass the course by completing assignments, group projects and exams.
  • Apprenticeships are for those in employment. You learn by completing tasks in the workplace, supported by theory work in college one day a week. You will pass the course by completing a portfolio of work and a technical certificate.

 

Course Level Entry Requirements Academic Study Vocational Study – Industry Related Vocational Study – Specific / Work Based Learning
Routes to Work A pre-level one course is for students who have no qualifications and who will benefit from an introduction to a work-based course. You will also spend time developing essential skills. National Curriculum Entry Level BTEC Certificates and Awards Routes to Work
Level 1 Four or more GCSEs at grade A*-E including English or maths. National Curriculum BTEC Level 1 Certificates and Awards NVQ1
Level 2 Four or more GCSEs at grade A*-D or above including English Language. GCSE BTEC Level 2 Diploma NVQ2 / Level 2 Apprenticeship
Level 3 Five or more GCSEs at grade A*-C or above including English Language. Higher grades in specific subjects may also be required. A Levels BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma NVQ3 / Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship
Level 4 A level four course is a Higher Education course. You can progress to this level course if you have completed a level three course such as a BTEC Extended Diploma. Foundation Degree / Honours Degree Foundation Degree / Honours Degree Foundation Degree / HND / HNC / NVQ4

 

What is a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma?

Structure
BTEC Extended Diplomas are 2 year courses made up of 18 units or subjects (core units and specialist units) related to your chosen industry. It is graded Pass, Merit, Distinction or Distinction* and at the end you should achieve a triple grade e.g. PPP, MMM, DDD or D*D*D*, which attract points for university, just like A levels. A BTEC Extended Diploma at D*D*D* is the equivalent to achieving 3 grade As at A-level.
 
Entry Requirements
You will need 5 GCSEs at Grades A*-C including English Language. You may also require certain grades in other subjects for specific courses. You will need a high standard of written and spoken English, the ability to use and understand numbers and good IT skills. Good organisational skills are essential to manage the coursework.
 
Progression
Most students will go on to university after studying a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma. It is a popular and successful route into higher education where you might choose to study a foundation degree or a full honours degree course. Others go straight into work. A BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma will give you knowledge and skills to enter your chosen industry.
 

What is a BTEC Level 2 Diploma?

Structure
BTEC Level 2 Diplomas are one year courses made up of a number of units or subjects, related to your chosen industry. At the end you should achieve a Pass, Merit or Distinction. A BTEC Level 2 Diploma is the equivalent to achieving 4 GCSEs at Grade C.
 
Entry Requirements
You will need at least 4 GCSEs at Grade A* – D including English Language. You may also require certain grades in other subjects for specific courses.
 
Progression
The BTEC Level 2 Diploma is a great stepping stone onto the Level 3 Extended Diploma and most students will go on to study at this higher level to give them more knowledge, skills and experience for working in their chosen industry or progressing to higher education. Others choose to continue learning in the workplace gaining employmentbased training such as an Apprenticeship.
 

What is a BTEC Level 1 Certificate?

Structure
The Level 1 BTEC Diploma is the first step on the BTEC ladder. It is a good introduction to learning about the area of work you are interested in. It is a one year course made up of a number of units, or subjects, all related to your chosen industry. At the end of your course you should achieve a pass.
 
Entry Requirements
You will need 4 GCSEs at Grade A*- E including mathematics or English Language.
 
Progression
Most students will carry on learning about their chosen industry by studying a BTEC Level 2 Diploma. Some students choose to carry on learning in the workplace, gaining employmentbased training.
 

What is an NVQ/VRQ?

Structure
An NVQ is a work-related, hands-on qualification that focuses on employment skills. They have been developed by the industry for the industry. You will have to show you are able to do certain work related skills, demonstrating that you meet national standards set by employers and that make sure you can actually do the job.
 
Learning Methods
You will work in a realistic working environment and may be required to undertake placements in the industry. Learning will also take place in the classroom where you will be taught related theory using a variety of teaching and learning methods.

You will learn through a variety of study methods including formal class teaching, group work, case studies, practical activities, role-play and personal research for assignments.
 
Assessment
You will be assessed through observations in realistic working environments and during placements, by producing or gathering appropriate materials and through questioning. You will put together a portfolio and be observed by an assessor who will observe you doing the tasks.

Depending on your current level of skills you will start on either a level 1 or 2 course. These courses are a great way to develop highly valued skills for industry and also act as a stepping stone onto the next level. Many of our students will go on to develop their skills further by moving up to the next level (2 or 3) whilst others choose to continue learning in the work place gaining employment based training.