This Week's News 08.06.18 - T-Levels Special

T-levels: new vocational qualifications

T-levels: new vocational qualifications

New technical T-level qualifications will help the UK "compete globally", Theresa May has claimed, as the first colleges and providers teaching the courses were announced. The vocational qualifications, which are intended as to have an equal status to A-levels, are a "vital part of our industrial strategy", the prime minister said. The first courses will be taught from September 2023, and education secretary Damian Hinds said they would equip children with the skills needed for "the jobs of tomorrow". Courses in construction, digital and education and childcare will be taught from September 2023. T-Levels are 2-year technical study programmes for 16 to 19 year olds that include a qualification and an industry placement. They will give students the knowledge and practical skills needed to progress into skilled employment at level 3 and above, or higher levels of technical training. T-Levels and apprenticeships will be based on the same set of employer-designed standards, approved and managed by the Institute for Apprenticeships. There is a framework of 15 routes and these are grouped together with occupations with similar knowledge, skills and behaviours, and each route is further broken down into pathways, which provide further groupings of occupations with similar requirements within each route, giving an indication of possible career progression. Each T-Level programme will sit under a pathway (there is a pathway for Hair & Beauty). Each route has an occupational map, which details the skilled occupations in each area. The government describes its plans as the "biggest overhaul of post-school education in 70 years". Those who decide to study a technical T-level will spend 50 per cent longer in learning than they do at the moment, equalling 900 hours of teaching a year.

T-level full roll-out delayed until 2023, DfE confirms

The full roll-out of T-levels has been delayed until September 2023 after concerns were raised about the planned pace of the scheme. However, the T-level pilot, which will involve up to 52 colleges delivering courses in digital (digital production, design and development), childcare and education and construction (design, surveying and planning), will still begin from September 2020, after it was delayed by 12 months last year. T-levels development will be overseen by the Institute of Apprenticeships (IfA), who describe them as the "Government's new two-year, technical study programmes available across 11 industry routes... one of the three major options available to students aged 16 - 19, alongside apprenticeships and A levels." The 12-month extension to implementation schedule means the government is now expecting the phased introduction of the new qualifications to take four years, as opposed to the three years originally planned.

DfE begins T-level tender process for single awarding organisations

The government is ploughing ahead with its contentious plans to use just one AO per qualification, as per Lord Sainsbury's recommendation in his review of technical education, despite high-profile concerns. The Department for Education launched the first part of the process to recruit the awarding organisations (AO) by publishing an "open early engagement". It tells potential AOs that two market engagement events will be held on 11 and 14 June. The Sainsbury Report, which paved the way for the new T-levels, recommended that a single body or consortium should "deliver each qualification under an 'exclusive licence' that would be awarded for a fixed time-period following open competition". The purpose of the procurement will be to "select and appoint an awarding organisation to be responsible for developing and delivering each of the wave one T-levels, under an exclusive licensing approach". An AO will be responsible for designing the content of the qualification, upskilling providers, providing learning and teaching materials, updating content and assessing qualifications. Limiting access to a single AO may create a risk of system failure both in the short- and long-term because if a single AO fails, it may be that no alternative AO can step in.

Parents told T-levels may not help get a job

Parents should be "wary" of letting children sign up to the government's flagship "T-levels", the biggest shake-up of technical education since the Second World War, experts have warned. The CBI business lobby group and civil servants fear the qualifications, aimed at making British youngsters as skilled as counterparts in countries such as Germany, are not ready and are being rushed through.

Professor Alan Smithers, of the University of Buckingham, said: "Parents should be wary of encouraging their children to take them. It must be absolutely clear they will be of value to employers before kids risk their futures." Jonathan Slater, the permanent secretary at the Department for Education, has lodged a formal objection to the plans to bring in the first three T-levels, which include compulsory three-month work placements, by 2020. He says their introduction should be delayed by a year.

Congratulations to the following learners who completed their Apprenticeships this week

Laura Thurley - Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship
Rhianna Smith - Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship

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