In England there are 9 qualification levels. The higher the level, the more difficult the qualification.

The levels increase with Level 3 being A levels and equivalent, level 6 degree level and level 9 doctorates etc.

At The Abbey School we offer qualifications at Entry level, Level 1 and for Catering at Level 2. For those students who are working below entry level we offer Unit Awards. Unit Awards are not qualifications but allow all students to engage with learning and have their achievements formally recognised.

Unit Awards

Students are rewarded with a certificate each time they successfully complete a unit of learning. They can build up a portfolio of certificates to evidence their skills, knowledge and experience.

Entry level

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

Entry level qualifications are:

  • entry level award
  • entry level certificate (ELC)
  • entry level diploma
  • entry level English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
  • entry level essential skills
  • entry level functional skills
  • Skills for Life

Level 1

Level 1 qualifications are:

  • first certificate
  • GCSE - grades 3, 2, 1 or grades D, E, F, G
  • level 1 award
  • level 1 certificate
  • level 1 diploma
  • level 1 ESOL
  • level 1 essential skills
  • level 1 functional skills
  • level 1 national vocational qualification (NVQ)
  • music grades 1, 2 and 3

Level 2

Level 2 qualifications are:

  • CSE - grade 1
  • GCSE - grades 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 or grades A*, A, B, C
  • intermediate apprenticeship
  • level 2 award
  • level 2 certificate
  • level 2 diploma
  • level 2 ESOL
  • level 2 essential skills
  • level 2 functional skills
  • level 2 national certificate
  • level 2 national diploma
  • level 2 NVQ
  • music grades 4 and 5
  • O level - grade A, B or C


At The Abbey we have our own assessment structure, the Abbey Progress Steps (APS).

We use this to track our students’ progress.

On entry to the school students are assessed and given a baseline APS level in most subjects. Their progress is then tracked to ensure they meet or exceed expected progress as they move through the school.

Expected progress has been determined by:

·         Comparison with other LAN/MLD schools

·         Historical data

·         Staff professional judgement

Most of our students will leave with Entry level 1, 2 or 3 in some subjects.

Below you can see how our Abbey Progress Steps (APS) approximately match to national qualifications.


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Equivalence of APS levels with accredite... 18th Apr 2023 Download