Survey on Draft Non-Statutory Guidance on Assigning Sector Subject Areas (SSAs)

Closed 29 Jan 2024

Opened 4 Dec 2023



In December 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) published a call for evidence as part of the joint review of the Sector Subject Area (SSA) classification system. The call for evidence sought to understand who uses the classification system, how they use it, and how far it meets their needs. Ofqual also published a survey for awarding organisations to try to understand if they faced any specific challenges in using the SSA classification system and how they assigned SSAs to their qualifications. 

Overall, respondents said that the SSAs are broadly fit for purpose, but that some of the SSAs are too broad or not clearly defined. Ofqual has considered how the SSA classification system might be improved to take account of the feedback and ensure that the SSA classification system remains fit for purpose. This includes: 

The purpose of this survey is to get views on the draft non-statutory guidance. 


All levels and types of regulated qualifications may be assigned to a Sector Subject Area (SSA) when they are placed on Ofqual’s Register of Regulated Qualifications.

This draft non-statutory guidance consists of a short description and a list of possible qualification content for each of the 50 SSAs. It also sets out some factors that awarding organisations may wish to take into consideration when assigning their qualifications to SSAs covering:

  • cross cutting qualifications
  • qualifications that appear to cover more than one SSA
  • oversight for assigning qualifications to SSAs

Ofqual expects awarding organisations to give due regard to this guidance before assigning any new qualifications to SSAs or when reviewing their qualification offer. Awarding organisations are responsible for ensuring that they have a particular SSA within their scope of recognition and, if not, apply to Ofqual for an expansion.

This guidance is only intended to provide advice for qualifications where there is no DfE SSA requirement in place.

Why your views matter

This survey will help us to finalise the non-statutory guidance for awarding organisations.   

What happens next

Your response has been submitted - thank you for completing the survey

This information will now be analysed and incorporated in the proposed non-statutory guidance

To get alerted to updates to this and other Ofqual consultations, you can sign up for alerts on our consultation page on GOV.UK.




  • Schools and colleges
  • Regulated awarding organisations
  • Public


  • GCSEs
  • AS and A levels
  • T levels
  • Apprenticeships
  • Functional skills
  • Performance table qualifications
  • Vocational and technical qualifications