Everything you need to know about T-levels – a parents’ guide

Monday, 16 April 2018 10:43
New T-levels will include 45 days' work placement at a relevant employer New T-levels will include 45 days' work placement at a relevant employer

As parents of teenagers at secondary school, you may have already heard about the government’s proposal to change the current vocational education system and introduce new T-level qualifications from 2020. You may also be wondering why the change was recommended and what impact it will have on your son or daughter when they go to a further education college?

In our handy guide for parents, we explain everything you need to know about the new qualifications and how they aim to increase your child’s skills and employability. 

What are T-levels?

Alongside apprenticeships and A-levels, T-levels will become one of the three main options for school leavers. T-levels are being introduced in the 2020/2021 academic year, and are designed to replace many of the vocational qualifications currently offered at level 3.

In a new two-year, level 3 technical study programme, T-levels will offer students:

  • Specific practical skills and knowledge in a chosen industry or occupation
  • 45 days’ work placement at a relevant employer
  • Core English, Maths and digital skills

Within the programmes, students can choose the occupational specialisms they wish to focus on either from the onset or during their course, for example Early Years Educator specialism within Childcare and Education T-level. After completing a T-level programme, students will have transferrable skills to use in the workplace, they may also continue their education at university or through an apprenticeship with an employer.

T-level qualifications will be offered in the following sector areas: agriculture, environmental and animal care, business and administration, catering and hospitality, childcare and education, construction, creative and design, digital, engineering and manufacturing, hair and beauty, health and science, legal, finance and accounting, protective services, sales, marketing and procurement, social care and transport and logistics.

How did they come about?

The reforms were announced by the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in 2016 following an independent review of the further education market. Led by Lord Sainsbury, it became known as the ‘Sainsbury Review’.

In the review, the current system was deemed ‘outdated and confusing’ and the radical overhaul of post-16 technical education began. In the autumn budget of 2017 the government announced an additional £20m to help colleges prepare for the change. This is on top of the annual £500m investment announced at the previous budget in March.

How are the new qualifications being developed?

The qualifications are being ‘co-designed’ by the Department for Education, Institute for Apprenticeships, education providers and employers. The aims are set out by the Department for Education, and the content developed by the other three parties.

The structure of the new qualifications will be different from the current system. The number of hours a student will study increases significantly from the average 540 hours offered now to approximately 1,800 hours over the two years (including the work placement).

The work placement element increases to 45 days, but can last up to 60 working days, making it much more meaningful to the student and employer. The timing of the work placement may be different depending on the qualification, some may opt for a continuous block, and others will distribute the work placement across the programme.

The core qualifications will be graded on a 6-point scale from E to A*, with A* being the highest. Occupational specialisms are awarded on a pass, merit or distinction basis.

Need more info?

The government’s website, Gov.uk, has a more in-depth article about T-levels for those looking to know more, click here for details.

Newbury College is offering specific T-level talks to parents in the autumn term of 2018. Keep an eye on the events page on the website for more details!

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