Levels and Pathways

Levels and Pathways

Course Levels and Pathways

We offer a range of courses at pre-entry level through to level 5. These courses are designed to meet the needs of our learners, our community and local businesses. Our courses are either regulated and accredited or non-regulated and non accredited.

Regulated and Accredited Courses

Regulated and/or accredited courses are offered at all levels at New Directions. By completing one of these courses, you will work towards completing and achieving a nationally accredited qualification. We work with a range of awarding bodies to accredit learning, these range from City and Guilds, Pearson, Gateway, Ascentis and the Institute for Leadership and Management. All of these qualifications are recognised by employers, further education colleges and universities. 

In order to complete and achieve one of these qualifications, you typically have to produce a portfolio of evidence that will be assessed by your Tutor throughout your course. Sometimes you will also need to sit an exam or have a formative assessment. If you are studying a work based learning qualification or an Apprenticeship, you will also need to be seen at work and assessed against criteria that demonstrates how occupationally competent you are. Your Tutor will explain all of this to you when you start your course. 

Non-regulated and Non-accredited Courses

New Directions College offers a range of courses which are non-regulated. This means that you won’t complete or achieve an accredited qualification, however, you will study a subject and gain skills, knowledge and demonstrate behaviours to show you are competent. You will achieve a completion certificate at the end of the course that details the topics you have covered.

We normally use a formal process of RARPA to recognise and record your progress and achievement. Non regulated learning is ideal for those wanting to participate in relaxed, informal learning such as creative arts and crafts courses and learning for wellbeing workshops or provision offered through our partners and subcontractors. 

It is also ideal for adult learners who are returning to learning for the first time in a long time, and whilst they are looking to develop their knowledge and skill, they don’t want the pressure or they may not require a formally accredited qualification.

What qualification levels mean

There are 9 qualification levels in England, starting at Entry level through to Level 8. You can find out more about levels on the Gov.uk website. New Directions offer courses from pre-entry and entry level through to level 5.

Pre-entry and entry level

Each entry level qualification is available at three sub levels, 1, 2 and 3. Entry level 3 is the most difficult of these levels.

Entry qualifications are:

  • Entry level award
  • Entry level certificate
  • entry level Diploma
  • entry level English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
  • entry level essential skills
  • entry level functional skills
  • Skils for Life

What you will gain:

  • basic knowledge and skills
  • ability to apply learning in everyday situations

You may also study non-accredited courses at this level.

Level 1

What you will gain:

  • basic knowledge and skills
  • ability to apply learning with guidance or supervision
  • may be linked to job competence

Level 1 qualifications are:

  • Level 1 awards or extended awards or certificates in vocational subjects
  • GCSE – grades 3, 2, 1 or grades D, E, F, G
  • Level 1 ESOL
  • Level 1 Essential Skills 
  • Level 1 Functional Skills 
  • Level 1 national vocational qualification (NVQ)

Traineeships are available at this level.

You may also study non-accredited courses at this level.

Level 2

What you will gain:

  • intermediate levels of knowledge and understanding of a subject
  • ability to perform a variety of tasks with some guidance or supervision
  • appropriate for many job roles
  • work placements are a typical component of most L2 technical, vocational or applied subjects.

Level 2 qualifications are:

  • CSE – grade 1
  • GCSE – grades 9,8,7,6,5,4 or grades A*, A, B, C
  • Level 2 awards, certificates or Diplomas in vocational subjects
  • Level 2 ESOL
  • Level 2 Functional Skills 
  • Level 2 Essential Skills
  • Level 2 national certificate or diploma
  • Level 2 national vocational qualification (NVQ)
  • O level – grade A, B or C

Intermediate Apprenticeships are also available at this level.

Level 3

What you will gain:

  • you will study more advanced level subjects and have the ability to apply a range of knowledge, skills and behaviours at an advanced to higher level
  • Some Level 3 qualifications carry UCAS points and so this level is appropriate if you plan to study at a higher level or want to go to university.
  • You typically need to have or be working towards a L2 qualification in Maths and English to be able to study technical or vocational qualifications at this level.
  • You will work independently at this level, and/or, in some cases, supervise and train others in their field of work
  • Work placements are a typical component of most L3 technical, vocational or applied subjects.

Level 3 qualifications are:

  • A Level
  • Access to higher education diploma
  • Applied general
  • AS Level
  • International Baccalaureate diploma
  • Level 3 award, certificate or diploma.
  • Level 3 ESOL
  • Level 3 national certificate or diploma
  • Level 3 national vocational qualification (NVQ)
  • Tech Level

Advanced Apprenticeships are also available at this level.


Level 4

Level 4 qualifications are:

  • certificate of higher education (CertHE)
  • higher apprenticeship
  • higher national certificate (HNC)
  • level 4 award
  • level 4 certificate
  • level 4 diploma
  • level 4 NVQ

Level 5

Level 5 qualifications are:

  • diploma of higher education (DipHE)
  • foundation degree
  • higher national diploma (HND)
  • level 5 award
  • level 5 certificate
  • level 5 diploma
  • level 5 NVQ

Level 6

Level 6 qualifications are:

  • degree apprenticeship
  • degree with honours – for example bachelor of the arts (BA) hons, bachelor of science (BSc) hons
  • graduate certificate
  • graduate diploma
  • level 6 award
  • level 6 certificate
  • level 6 diploma
  • level 6 NVQ
  • ordinary degree without honours

Level 7

Level 7 qualifications are:

  • integrated master’s degree, for example master of engineering (MEng)
  • level 7 award
  • level 7 certificate
  • level 7 diploma
  • level 7 NVQ
  • master’s degree, for example master of arts (MA), master of science (MSc)
  • postgraduate certificate
  • postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE)
  • postgraduate diploma

Level 8

Level 8 qualifications are:

  • doctorate, for example doctor of philosophy (PhD or DPhil)
  • level 8 award
  • level 8 certificate
  • level 8 diploma

Course Offer

The courses that we offer at the College are themed into subject specific areas or occupational job sectors or categories of learning that are focused on:

  1. Courses that aim to engage adults and provide the skills and learning they
    need to progress into, or within, work; or equip them for an apprenticeship or other learning. 
  2. Flexible tailored programmes of learning which may or may not require a qualification, to help eligible learners engage in learning, build confidence, and/or enhance their wellbeing.
  3. Personal and Community Development Learning – learning for personal
    and community development, cultural enrichment, intellectual or creative
    stimulation and for enjoyment (in most cases not leading to a formal
  4. Family English, Maths and Language – learning to improve the English,
    language and maths skills of parents, carers or guardians and their ability to help their children
  5. Wider Family Learning – learning to help different generations of family
    members to learn together how to support their children’s learning
  6. Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities – supports local
    Voluntary and other third sector organisations to develop their capacity to deliver learning opportunities for the residents of disadvantaged