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Education: Disadvantaged

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL784, tabled on 7 June 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Social Mobility Commission's report The road not taken: the drivers of course selection, published on 30 March, what steps they intend to take (1) to promote progression routes, (2) to combine technical and academic courses, and (3) to ensure T Levels are properly recognised and fully transferable qualifications.

Answered on

16 June 2021

The department is reviewing post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below, to ensure that every qualification approved for public funding has a distinct purpose, is high quality and supports progression to positive outcomes.

Our recent consultation on level 3 qualifications and call for evidence on study at level 2 and below set out proposals to ensure students have the best opportunities for progression into further or higher education, or into skilled employment, including support for students not ready to start level 3 at age 16. The consultation set out our proposals for clear academic and technical routes post-16, with A levels and T Levels as the qualifications of choice for each route. We are considering responses to the consultation and call for evidence, and will publish a full response to the level 3 consultation, and proposals for consultation at level 2 and below, later this year.

Alongside this, we need outstanding information, advice and guidance to support students to make the best decisions at age 16, including both academic and technical options. The Skills for Jobs White Paper set out a roadmap for how we will achieve this, including support for students to choose the route that best supports their career and study aims.

The consultation above recognised the need for mixed programmes on the academic route to allow students to combine A levels with a number of high quality alternative qualifications. T Levels are technical programmes but are classroom-based delivered by a further education provider, where students will spend 80% in the classroom and 20% on the job during an industry placement of a minimum of 315 hours.

Higher Technical Qualifications are largely classroom based, taught in further education colleges, universities or independent training providers. Although Higher Technical Qualifications are primarily designed for entry into skilled employment or those looking to retrain or upskill, they can also allow progression to further study and/or training.

T Levels, once fully rolled out, will give access to high-quality technical education for thousands of young people, so they can progress to the next level, whether that is getting a job, going on to further study or an apprenticeship. T Levels are more rigorous and substantial than most existing technical qualifications and earn UCAS points in line with 3 A levels. Therefore, we expect T Levels to provide a route into higher level technical study, including degree courses and higher apprenticeships in relevant subject areas. We are working with a wide range of higher education providers and employers to ensure that they are able to make a judgement about the suitability of T Levels for their courses and recruitment approach.

The content of T Levels has been developed in collaboration with panels of over 250 employers ranging from leading national businesses to small and medium sized enterprises. These panels set out the knowledge and skills needed to perform skilled occupations in their industry, using the approved standards which are common to apprenticeships. They also advised on specific maths, English and digital requirements necessary for occupational competence. The core content of the T Level provides underpinning knowledge and breadth of skills to support adaptability and prepare the student for work in their chosen industry. This breadth of knowledge and understanding, combined with core employability skills relevant to all occupations in the route, like problem solving, teamwork or communication skills, provides a firm foundation for a variety of roles. The occupational specialism, which students will choose, will develop technical competence in the area the student wishes to work in.

All students who take T Levels will undertake a substantial industry placement for a minimum of 45 days, so students can be confident that they will get the opportunity to gain real experience of work and develop many transferable skills that employers look for.