Turning education and skills policy into practice

Qualification design and development

Based on expertise gathered across the world, we advise certification agencies on different approaches to qualifications, frameworks and standards, and help them develop and deliver these in vocational, professional and academic disciplines.

Assessment and certification are underpinned by qualifications and competency frameworks which lay out expectations for people’s performance. In academic settings this may take the form of a syllabus; in vocational and professional settings, they may be in the form of occupational standards, professional standards or job descriptions.

AlphaPlus supports organisations in producing this critical documentation, which describes what is covered in learning and development. Our team includes professional qualification and assessment specialists working alongside subject experts, and we work with sector skills bodies, government agencies and professional bodies to ensure that investment in qualifications and learning leads to skills and knowledge that industry needs.

Occupational and professional standards
We help our clients make sure that the expectations of workforce professionals are clearly laid out.  We help develop occupational and professional standards to support domestic and international recruitment, to raise professional standards, and to provide a basis for qualifications and progression frameworks.  
Our experience in standards developments helps our clients produce clear, durable and defensible standards on which to base learning and professional development programmes.

Qualification frameworks, validity and comparability
Our experience from around the world helps our clients ensure that their qualifications are valid and reliable.  We provide expert advice on ensuring qualifications fit into frameworks for learner progression. We support our clients with comparability and validity studies, ensuring that their qualifications provide a sound platform for assessment, and meet the needs of today’s learners.

Qualification development
Modern qualifications often have to meet complex rules in terms of regulation and government legislation, as well as presenting commercial challenges to ensure they are attractive to learners and teachers.  We specialise in qualification design and development – particularly in challenging scenarios such as regulatory change, competition in international markets and when clients are launching qualifications in new disciplines.

Example projects

Client: Saudi Skills Standards     
Project Development of occupational standards

We have written and edited over 100 occupational standards suites for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  These standards form the foundation of a new national vocational certification agency (Saudi Skills Standards) with responsibility for vocational certification in the Kingdom.

Client: Ofqual        
Project: Proving the validity of vocational qualifications

We undertook a major investigative project for the Regulator in partnership with City & Guilds, and NCFE (two of the leading UK vocational awarding organisations with large portfolios of qualifications under regulation by Ofqual) to research issues relating to the validity of vocational qualifications.
Read the report

Client: Awarding organisations    
Projects: Qualification development

We have worked with numerous AOs to develop new vocational qualifications for schools, colleges and workplace learning in areas as diverse as new media, employability, maths and English (Functional Skills), technology, engineering, health and beauty, business studies, construction, creative arts and hospitality.
We also work on academic qualifications including GCSEs and A Levels, supporting changes such as the move to linear, changes to grading approaches, consideration of options for tiering, comparability of specification content and balance, etc.

Client: UK awarding organisations  
Projects: Functional Skills English, mathematics and IT

We developed many of the leading AOs' offers (qualifications and assessments) for Functional Skills and the basic skills units in English and mathematics.  This work grew from our work for QCA and DfE on the evaluation of the introduction of Functional Skills, and previous work on Basic and Key Skills (and their equivalents in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland).

Client: UK professional certification bodies    
Projects: Professional support

We work with a number of medical and accountancy bodies to support their professional standards and certification processes, helping them to ensure that their services to current and prospective members follow international best practice, and are fair and reliable.

Client: Ofqual            
Projects: Public consultation on new qualifications

On behalf of Ofqual, England’s regulator, we have led the evidence collection, analysis and reporting on public consultation relating to a number of new qualification initiatives including GCSEs and A Levels.


The Qualification design and development team

Visit the team profile page for more information

John Winkley

Sarah Maughan

Tom Mitchell

Gavin Reynaud

Andrew Boyle

Clare Dowland

Zak Horrocks

Adaora Okechuku

Gillian Whitehouse

Professor Roger Murphy

John Hamer


John Winkley, Director

0161 238 4928