Head of Vocational Standards - 12 Month FTC

Posted 8 November by Pearson UK

Head of Vocational Standards - 12 Month FTC


At Pearson, we’re committed to a world that’s always learning and to our talented team who makes it all possible. From bringing lectures vividly to life to turning textbooks into laptop lessons, we are always re-examining the way people learn best, whether it’s one child in our own backyard or an education community across the globe. We are bold thinkers and standout innovators who motivate each other to explore new frontiers in an environment that supports and inspires us to always be better. By pushing the boundaries of technology — and each other to surpass these boundaries — we create seeds of learning that become the catalyst for the world’s innovations, personal and global, large and small.

The Head of Vocational Standards post is a specialist leadership role – with the individual being recognised as the technical authority for setting and maintaining standards for Vocational Qualifications. They provide expert technical guidance and challenge primarily to Assessment teams, Product Development teams but also to the wider business as required.

The Head of Vocational Standards is expected to have knowledge of international best practice for setting and maintaining standards and is able to consider the impact of his/her advice on operational delivery, compliance with various regulatory requirements, customers and most importantly the learner.

The post has a high level of accountability for decisions that will have a direct impact on public confidence and Pearson’s reputation.


The Head of Vocational Standards is accountable for the integrity of qualification results for millions of learners. They will be signing off on decisions on behalf of the Director of Accreditation & Standards and the Senior Responsible Officer and as such it is critical that decisions they take and awarding decisions they sign off can withstand public scrutiny and will be subject to challenge by Senior Management and Regulators.

The Head of Vocational Standards is required on a daily basis to balance multiple sources of evidence to make judgements that will impact learners’ progression opportunities, including the use of statistical data. These judgements must be transparent, consistent over time and in the interests of protecting the integrity of the qualification suites. They are required to proactively identify where evidence is limited or inconclusive, scope and carry out research to explain results profiles for specific qualification suites in the context of the wider and appropriate educational environment.

  1. To identify international best practice methods for setting and maintaining standards in specific qualification suites

  2. To carry out and/or commission research and collaborate with inter-board research in order to provide support, guidance and where appropriate direction to Vocational Qualifications Assessment to deliver secure awards.

  3. To use technical expertise to communicate complex information with clarity to internal and external stakeholders

  4. To be accountable for the quality assurance of the standards set each year, balancing multiple sources of evidence to make robust decisions

  5. To lead the Review of Awards & Maintenance of Standards Activities for Vocational Qualifications.

  6. To ensure adherence to and provide evidence of regulatory compliance

  7. To represent the views of Pearson at technical inter-board meetings and external conferences

  8. To consolidate research to provide evidence-based advice to the Senior Responsible Officer and Director of Accreditation on all activity related to their portfolio

  9. To prepare timely reports for the regulator or to inform final award sign off

  10. To document transparent processes and procedures that are robust and defensible in relation to standards activities

  11. To act as an authority for the establishment and maintenance of standards for Pearson Core qualifications

  12. To represent Pearson UK at external conferences and working collaboratively with representatives of other awarding organisations as appropriate

  13. To lead a team of technical specialists

  14. To be a direct contact point for representatives from Ministries of Education across the globe

  15. To ensure priorities align with Pearson Core Growth strategies

  16. the strategic management of regulatory and compliance issues within the department and the development and implementation of quality action plans as a result of the self-assessment of activities.


  • Signing off on behalf of the Responsible officer grade boundary decisions for each Pearson UK qualification that will impact thousands of students lives

  • Providing clear, evidence-based rationales for decision making that can withstand public scrutiny for the Responsible Officer

  • Providing the overview of national qualification trends with a view to provide confidence in results, drawing on empirical research and leading Pearson research to build the evidence base

  • Signing off Qualifications that are defensible from a Standards perspective

  • Developing and delivering training for internal and external staff to build the assessment and awarding expertise of Pearson as an Awarding Organisation

  • To achieve all tasks and objectives within agreed budgets and other management parameters


Within the ever-changing landscape of education, it is essential that the standards team keep abreast of the demands that accompany this change, being a leading voice in the continued global standards debate.

Key challenges include:

  • Reacting positively to change

  • Working collaboratively across the business

  • Intense internal and external scrutiny of process and decisions

  • Identifying practices that do not adhere to the high quality expectations of the business and influence change by working with stakeholders to restore integrity

  • Challenging the business to show how standards can be set and maintained for new qualifications

  • Reporting to executive leadership team

  • Working in a fast paced environment with competing demands

  • Contributing to the development of IT systems to support standards work

  • Flexibility of working patterns during peak periods

  • Attention to detail even with repetitive tasks

  • Engaging with all key stakeholders, including Ofqual,CCEA, Qualifications Wales & DfE

  • Reference: 39330115

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