Understanding Qualifications

What is a qualification?

A formal qualification is the successful completion of a programme of study and/or assessment. A qualification demonstrates specific learning and capability within a particular field or area, to an identified level.

Are all qualifications accredited?

Not all qualifications are accredited. The difference between an accredited and non-accredited qualification is the level of regulation associated with a qualification. Accredited qualifications are regulated by a recognised regulatory body. This means they are regularly reviewed and monitored by an external organisation to check that they meet identified criteria and quality standards. All accredited qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are listed on the Register of Regulated Qualifications, and carry with them an assurance of quality – both through the accreditation they carry with them, and the Awarding Organisation responsible for the qualification. A non-accredited qualification is not regulated by a national regulatory body, and therefore has no guarantee of quality or standards. Some non-accredited qualifications work towards an accredited programme of study. 

For a full list of accredited qualifications in the UK visit the Register of Regulated Qualifications.

Who are the Regulatory Bodies in the UK?

The national regulatory bodies in the UK are:

These regulatory bodies do not regulate Higher Education Qualifications such as bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctorates, which are regulated in the UK by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). Click on the links provided for more information about each of the regulators and the work they do.

The Dance Register and the Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF)

If you are particularly interested in finding a dance teacher who holds a dance teaching qualification at a particular level, you can conduct a Search by Teaching Qualification Level in the Advanced Search area. The search function is by qualification level rather than qualification name because there are so many possible qualifications a dance teacher could have. A qualification level relates to the level of difficulty and demand required by a qualification. Qualifications can range from entry level to level 8, as set out in the Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF) and National Qualifications Framework (NQF).  Accredited qualifications on the Register of Regulated Qualifications can be benchmarked against these levels.  Higher Education Qualifications are benchmarked against levels 4 – 8 by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). Click here to see Ofqual’s breakdown of the different levels and what they involve.

You should decide which level of teaching qualification you would like a teacher to have, and then complete a Dance Register search based on this. Your search results will include teachers with that level of qualification or above. A teacher’s profile will then tell you which specific qualifications they posses. You should also check the information teachers have included in their Professional Experience and Recent Training/CPD/Other Qualifications areas, because it might include details of other, non-teaching qualifications relevant to their work as a dance teacher.

The difference between an Award, Certificate and Diploma

Award, Certificate and Diploma are recognised terms used to indicate the size of a qualification. A qualification’s size is measured by the number of credits it involves, and each award requires a different number of credits, as follows:

  • Award (1 – 12 credits)
  • Certificate (13 – 31 credits)
  • Diploma (32+ credits)

Ofqual states that a single credit represents 10 hours of learning time. The size of a qualification also therefore indicates the time it will generally take to achieve (with a diploma taking the longest time). Click here to see a diagram of the different levels and sizes of qualifications on the NQF/QCF.

What type of qualifications are dance teachers likely to have?

There are a range of qualifications available to dance practitioners, both relating to their dance style (eg. Ballet, Ballroom, Contemporary, Jazz) and their teaching practice. A teacher might have a qualification that relates to mainstream teaching, teaching dance specifically, safe practice, or a particular dance genre. They might also have gone to university to study dance as an academic subject – there are a wide range of dance and performance degrees and masters programmes on offer.  All accredited qualifications will posses a level and size, and be awarded by a specific Awarding Organisation. 

Dance Awarding Organisations

An accredited qualification will be awarded by a recognised Awarding Organisation. The Awarding Organisations most commonly associated with dance qualifications will generally be recognised by regulatory bodies such as Ofqual, and are also most likely to be validated by the Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET). CDET is a quality assurance organisation which validates Awarding Organisations working in the professional dance and musical theatre industries.

Dance Awarding Organisations offer qualifications across dance styles, teaching practice, and wider dance practice. Teachers on The Dance Register might have several different qualifications that relate to different parts of their work, and are both vocational and non-vocational in scope. Click here for a list of the key dance Awarding Organisations – links to their individual websites will then help you explore the work they do and qualifications they offer.

Alongside dance qualifications, a dance teacher might also have a degree in dance, awarded by a Higher Education Institution and regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency – click here for the full list of Higher Educations Institutions recognised by the QAA.

UK Qualification Frameworks

For Ofqual’s leaflet on comparing qualifications across UK qualification frameworks, click here.

Key sources for this page:


Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA)

Welsh Government

Scottish Qualifications Authority

Accredited Qualifications

Search The Dance Register

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