In yesterday’s November Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the government will invest an extra £20 million to help colleges to prepare for the introduction of the new vocational T-levels.
This comes on top of the £50 million that was announced in July, which will be available from April next year (2018) to help with ‘capacity building’.
T Level is the handy title the media have given to the government’s new raft of post-16 vocational qualifications – set to be developed and phased in between 2020 and 2022.
The government describes its plans as the ‘biggest overhaul of post-school education in 70 years’, and it will be funded by an already announced £500million a year, once it is up and running.
Initially announced in March’s Budget (2017), Chancellor Philip Hammond stated that he hoped the new qualification would be viewed as being on a par with traditional A Levels.
This has, of course, been tried before (remember the Diplomas launched back in the noughties?), and the fact that A Levels still stand alone as the ‘gold standard’, reveals the level of success these attempts have achieved.
But these T Level qualifications are not being designed to replace the A Level. They will sit alongside, and students will have a post-16 educational choice: The Academic Route (A levels) or the Technical Route (T Levels).
So what form will the T Levels take and how are they different to what is currently on the vocational table?
In order to simplify a very overcrowded qualification sector, the government will create 15 technical routes or sectors, reducing the current 13,000 disparate qualifications to just 15 routes. However, this is slightly misleading as this can’t possibly mean that there will be 15 vocational qualifications! Clearly that would be impossible. For instance, one of the new T Level sectors is Construction. Within Construction there will, presumably, be many different qualification specialities, such as Bricklaying, Building Services Engineering, Architecture, Plastering, Electrician etc. As yet we await further details on what exactly lies within the 15 sectors. Importantly, there is scope for employers and colleges to work together and develop industry relevant standards – so that employers have access to employees equipped with the right skills.
T Level courses will last for two years. To use the Construction example once again, in year one students will learn core construction skills, such as health and safety, project management, sustainability etc. In the second year students will focus on their chosen speciality e.g. carpentry, bricklaying etc.
The proposed 15 T Level Sectors are:
Agriculture, Environmental and Animal are
Business and Administrative
Catering and Hospitality
Childcare and Education
Creative and Design
Engineering and Manufacturing
Hair and Beauty
Health and Science
Legal, Finance and Accounting
Sales, Marketing and Procurement
Transport and Logistics