NCFE is a national awarding body. Awarding bodies design and award qualifications which recognise the skills, knowledge and understanding achieved by a learner at a particular level and in a particular subject.

We can trace our origins to 1848 when the Northern Union of Mechanics’ Institutes was established with the aim of becoming a centre of learning in the north of England. By the 1920s the Northern Union had been renamed as the Northern Counties Technical Examinations Council, affectionately known as ‘Northern Counties’, and provided exams for colleges, schools and other centres.

In 1981 Northern Counties merged with the Northern Advisory Council for Further Education to become the Northern Council for Further Education. However, by the early 1990s our new and independent national presence required a less regional focus, and we are now known simply as NCFE.

We are also a registered educational charity and a company limited by guarantee. Our charitable aim is ‘to promote and advance the education and training of young persons and adults’.

NCFE is recognised as an awarding body by the qualification regulators (‘regulators’) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The regulators are the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual) in England, the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills (DCELLS) in Wales and the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland.

History of NCFE

More than 150 years of Vocational Awarding NCFE can trace our record of working with colleges and other providers back to our founding organisation, the Northern Union of Mechanics’ Institutes (NUMI), established in 1848.

NCFE’s earliest incarnation held lofty ambitions. Its first report declared its intention to “become a centre from whence the elements of knowledge and civilisation shall go on with an unceasing progress, conferring intellectual, scientific and moral blessings throughout the length and breadth of the Northern Counties.”

From 1920, the Northern Counties Technical Examinations Council (NCTEC or ‘Northern Counties’ as it became affectionately known) supplanted NUMI and, supported by nine Northern Local Education Authorities, provided examinations for technical colleges, schools and other centres for over sixty years until 1981.

In 1981, the Northern Advisory Council for Further Education (NACFE), which was established in 1947 to co-ordinate further education provision throughout the nine LEAs, merged with the NCTEC to become the Northern Council for Further Education. When the further education sector was incorporated (made independent of the government) in the early 1990s the company felt the old name was incompatible with our new national focus and has since then been identified simply as NCFE with the letters no longer being an acronym.

ReAct Wales

Redundant? The ReAct Programme provides a package of support which helps redundant workers in Wales gain new skills and remove obstacles to improve their chances of returning to work in as short a time as possible after redundancy. The package is offered by the Welsh Government and its partner organisations such as Careers Wales and Jobcentre Plus. The Programme is supported by the European Social Fund (ESF).

ReAct can provide a contribution towards the cost of vocational training to provide you with new skills which have been identified by Careers Wales. Before arranging any training, you should contact your local Careers Wales office on 0800 100 900 and make an appointment with an Adult Guidance Adviser. The Adviser will provide free and impartial advice on vocational training and provide you with a Careers Action Plan which will form part of your ReAct application.

You can also contact the ReAct Team on 01792 765888 or at for more information.


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