Helen Gregory

New bakery qualifications will not replace NVQs in September, as widely thought. Instead, bakery colleges have been told they will be able to run NVQs and the new IPQs (Improve Proficiency Qualifications) in tandem.

Amid confusion around qualifications reform, food and drink sector skills council Improve said colleges could deliver either NVQs or VRQs in food manfuacturing and bakery, which will be funded for new starters up to the end of December. From January, only the new IPQs will be offered, replacing NVQs. While some awarding bodies are already preparing Improve Vocational Qualifications (IVQs) to replace VRQs, it was also unlikely these would be available in September.

Colleges running bakery courses, such as the National Bakery School in Southbank University and Thomas Danby Leeds College, have voiced concerns that courses had not been finalised. But Derek Williams, development director for Improve, said the move would allow colleges to do the necessary starts in September and to carry on these programmes for one or two years. "If they want to offer an IPQ in bakery, there’s an opportunity to do that, depending on the release of those qualifications from the awarding organisations."

He said Improve was now engaged in accreditation, while the awarding bodies were packaging them up into qualifications. Two of these bodies EDI and Food and Drink Qualifications said their IPQ bakery courses would be ready for September.

Gordon Sibbald, assistant director for vocational skills at Thomas Danby, said they had created a curriculum and budget, using their best guess. "We’re only a couple of months away from getting new students and we don’t have a very good curriculum to offer. We need to sort out staffing, but it won’t affect our students."

Improve’s Williams said the parallel qualifications would be offered until December, but that availability of these new modular vocational qualifications would depend on the college’s location and the contract negotiated.