Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Monday, 6 July 2009 13:27 UK

Exams watchdogs around the UK

There are increasingly diverse curriculum systems in the UK

The Conservatives are threatening to shut down the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency as part of a drive to save on public spending.

This school curriculum organisation is one of the quangos - quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations - facing closure under a Tory government.

But this would only apply in England - and the proposal shows the diversity of the UK's exam and curriculum bodies.

As well as different authorities, there are major structural differences.

In England there are developing plans for a division of the curriculum authority from the watchdog which ensures the quality of exams.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency, an adaptation of the current Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, is going to be the counterpart of the exams regulator, Ofqual.

Devolved systems

But there are different and often more unified systems operating in other countries of the UK.

In Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority devises, develops and accredits school qualifications such as the standard grades and highers.

It checks the quality of its qualifications and issues certificates.

In Northern Ireland, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) is responsible for setting and regulating school exams including GCSEs and A-levels.

However pupils in Northern Ireland can also take GCSE and A-level courses offered by exam boards serving England and Wales.

This organisation combines the functions of monitoring standards, awarding qualifications and advising Northern Ireland's ministers on the curriculum.

It also ran the 11-plus tests which are being scrapped.

In Wales, the curriculum and assessment body, Awdurdod Cymwysterau, Cwricwlwm ac Asesu Cymru (Accac) had been the counterpart of the QCA in England.

But the functions of this organisation have been absorbed into the Welsh Assembly Government's Department for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills.

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