The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)

  • Classroom Assistants
  • Creative Crafts
  • Employability Skills
  • Modern Langugages
  • Performance Skills
  • Personal Money Management
  • Preparation for Adult Life
  • Space Science Technology
  • Substance Misuse Awareness
  • Understanding Business Enterprise
  • Working in the Creative Crafts Industry

A qualification on the Qualifications Credit Framework is known as a QCF qualification.

Qualifications that use the QCF rules are made up of units. This provides flexible ways to get a qualification. Each unit has a credit value which tells you how many credits are awarded when a unit is completed. One credit will usually take 10 hours of learning. This includes independent learning, therefore a QCF qualification will also indicate the number of guided learning hours (GLH), i.e. teacher directed hours, necessary to teach each unit.

Units build up to qualifications. There are three different sizes of qualification in the QCF: Award, Certificate and Diploma. The title of a qualification will indicate the level.

Award 1-12 credits
Certificate 13-36 credits
Diploma 37 credits or more

Benefits of QCF Qualifications

The QCF qualifications can offer flexibility in delivery and also assessment methodologies used. They can also provide many benefits to learners:

  • Units achieved can contribute to more than one qualification, even if it has been taken with a different awarding organisation;
  • Learners can take individual units or whole qualifications;
  • Learners can gain units within timescales that suit them;
  • Flexible units of learning can be tailored to specific learner needs and interests;
  • Units of learning reflect the needs of industry;
  • Units facilitate development of essential skills, and relevant understanding and knowledge;
  • Units allow use of a wide range of assessment methods, suitable to the content and skills and to a diverse range of candidates; and
  • There are opportunities for learners to sample different areas and pursue a range of learning pathways.

Further information on the QCF may be obtained from

Equivalency and Performance Measures

CCEA offer a wide range of qualifications at different levels, guided learning hours (GLH) and on different Qualification Frameworks. The level of a qualification indicates the demand. The GLH indicate the size of a qualification. For example this means that a QCF Level 2 qualification is pitched at the same level of demand as a GCSE, however if it has less guided learning hours than 120 it may not necessarily be equivalent to a GCSE for performance measure purposes. When considering the GCSE/GCE equivalence of a qualification two factors must be taken into account – the level of the qualification and the number of GLH.

The Department of Education (DE) allocate performance points based on criteria including the size and level of a qualification. The DE Circular on Performance Measures (2013/08) which was issued to schools on 16 April 2013 provides details of the policy which DE applied to schools this year and directs schools to the DfE January 2012 publication.

Performance Points: A Practical Guide to Key Stage 4 and 5 Performance Points External Link

NIEFQAN file: Information on current points allocated for specific qualifications External Link

Any queries regarding the details contained within the NIEFQAN file should be raised with the Assessment and Qualifications Team within DE at or 02891 279543.


Qualifications Equivalency Update (S/IF/01/14)
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Qualifications Equivalence (S/IF/85/12)
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CCEA QCF Qualifications Microsites (S/IF/09/12)
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