There are a number of ways in which training and qualifications can be quality assured, and this section of the website is an attempt to help you understand the differences.


Validation is a process undertaken by a university, which is an awarding body in its own right, to approve a new higher education programme of learning such as a bachelor’s degree. The university invites external experts from the field of learning covered by the course to sit on a panel alongside external examiners and employers, to question university staff who have developed the course. This takes place at a validation event, where all aspects of the course are considered.  A course may be given conditions which must be met before it can be considered validated and offered to students, or it can be given recommendations which might be taken into consideration by staff, but are not mandatory.


Accreditation is the process by which a training provider is approved by an awarding body to offer their qualifications.  For example, City and Guilds (an awarding body) may accredit a small training provider to deliver their Certificate in Playwork. The awarding body will check the provider’s quality assurance systems, expertise of staff and usually sample the assessed student work.  While the training provider has delivered the teaching, assessed the students’ work and checked the standards of assessment across different tutors involved, the awarding body provides the certificate on successful completion of the qualification.


Endorsement is a process where a training course (not qualification) is given quality approval by an organisation with some expertise in a particular field. In some cases, endorsement might also be applied to training delivery or a product such as a book. In the case of Play England endorsement, we are considering the content and relevance to play and playwork of a training course, the experience and qualifications of the staff delivering it, the mechanisms in place to support all learners to engage in the learning, and the quality of the experience which learners might expect to gain as a result.  As with validation and accreditation, endorsement is conferred on the programme as submitted, and not on each individual learner. It is a sign to prospective students that the content and structure of a training course meets quality standards and is relevant in the field of study.

Play England’s Endorsement System: process and paperwork