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Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation
Non-ministerial government department overview
Formed April 2008 (April 2008)
Preceding Non-ministerial government department
Type Non-ministerial government department
Jurisdiction England and Northern Ireland
Headquarters Spring Place, Coventry Business Park, Herald Avenue, Canley, Coventry, CV5 6UB
Employees 232 (2013/14)
Annual budget £18.4 million (2013/14)
Non-ministerial government department executives
  • Glenys Stacey, Chief Executive
  • Amanda Spielman, Chair
Website /

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is a non-ministerial government department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland.[1] Colloquially and publicly, Ofqual is often referred to as the exam "watchdog".[2]


Ofqual's role is to maintain standards and confidence in qualifications.[3]

Area of governance

It regulates exams, qualifications and tests in England and NVQs in Northern Ireland. Wales and Scotland are regulated by each respective national government. However, the Scottish Qualifications Authority SQA is also accredited by Ofqual.[4] Ofqual collaborates closely with the UK government and the Department for Education on general qualifications, such as GCSEs and A levels, and with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on vocational qualifications such as NVQs and BTECs. In Northern Ireland it regulates NVQs on behalf of the Department for Employment and Learning. It should be noted that Ofqual is the authority which regulates and accredits British examination boards offering GCSEs and GCE A levels while it is the JCQ which regulates administration of actual GCSE and A Level examinations.

Modular VS Linear Controversy

The Conservative Party under Prime Minister David Cameron initiated reforms for A Levels to change from the current modular to a linear structure.[5] British Examination Boards (Edexcel, AQA and OCR) regulated and accredited by Ofqual responded to the government's reform announcements by modifying syllabi of several A Level subjects.[6][7] However, the Labour Party and in particular the Member of Parliament Tristram Hunt announced that it will halt and reverse the reforms and maintain the modular A-Level system.[8] The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have expressed support for the modular system.[9][10]

Recent reports reveal that the linear examination approach and the toughening educational reforms initiated by Ofqual provoked many schools to "play the system" by enquiring test remarking and supplementary aid for students (e.g. special consideration and extra time) in order to uphold high exam grade levels so as to not drop in league tables.[11]

Rising numbers of students taking GCSEs and GCE A Levels over the past decades has led to an increase in the quantity of examination results being enquired for re-marking and reported to Ofqual.[12]

Ofqual's remit and responsibilities are established in law by the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009[13] and the Education Act 2011.[14] As a Non-ministerial department Ofqual is accountable to Parliament, through the Education Select Committee. It is not accountable to Government ministers and as such is independent from Ministerial Government. Whereas Ofqual regulates and accredits British examination boards (e.g. Edexcel, AQA, OCR etc.) and their GCSE and GCE A-Level specifications; the examination board CIE (Cambridge International Examinations) which offers international GCSEs and GCE A-Levels predominantly for schools outside the United Kingdom operates independently without British governmental intervention. Therefore, although CIE qualifications are accredited by Ofqual, they are not regulated by it and thus may differ significantly in subject content and exam structure from UK GCSEs and GCE A-Levels.[15]


Ofqual's Chair is Amanda Spielman. She was appointed in 2011 and was reappointed in 2014 for a further 5 years.[16] Other members of the Board include Professor Julius Weinberg and Dr. Mike Cresswell.[17]

It has four directorates:

  • Strategy, risk and research
  • Vocational qualifications
  • General qualifications
  • Operations


  1. ^, Gov.UK Government, Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation, Retrieved 6 February 2014
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External links

  • Official website
  • Ofqual consultations
  • The Register of Regulated Qualifications
  • Ofqual's channel on YouTube
  • Ofqual on Twitter
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