The rise of the distance learning QCF

I have recently come across a growing number of QCF Diplomas in Health and Social Care being offered as distance learning programmes.  These programmes are particularly attractive to learners as they:

Are very inexpensive, starting at around £250

  • Do not require any attendance at college
  • Can be completed without a qualified assessor observing the learner in the workplace
  • Do not require qualified assessors or managers to authenticate or sign work off
  • Do not require questionnaires (exam questions), to be completed with any adjudication
  • Only require learners to be in work for a minimum of 50 hours (checks on work placements are not verified as authentic or suitable).

When I enquired about embarking on one of these courses (Level 2 Diploma), I was told I only had to have someone "with a bit more experience and knowledge than myself" to sign my work off.  I can make the judgement or choose who to ask to sign my work off.  I will be assessed on the assignments I send through for marking and the answers to the questionnaires I provide; I don't need formal assessments by qualified assessors, and no one will come to vet my place of work or the people signing off my work.

Am I concerned?  You bet I am.

"How easy is it to exploit this system?"

"Is it now more important for carers to have their name printed on a piece of paper than it is to have the knowledge and skills which should underpin a qualification in care?"

It is not acceptable to pass responsibility over to individuals claiming they should have more integrity and honesty when completing their programmes of study; and how ethical is it asking QCF learners to make a judgement on whether or not a colleague is suitable to sign their work off?  How can someone with only 50 hours, or 7 days of care experience, gain the knowledge and skills required for a Diploma in Care?

This situation forms the basis of a serious debate which the authorities urgently need to hold; certificating carers like this is nothing short of a serious safeguarding issue!