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T Levels could change everything. Are you ready?

To those who work in schools, you may feel somewhat isolated from the onset of T Levels, however, the reverberations are being felt across the educational landscape and as such, their impact is also set to land at the door of secondary schools. To make a success of this for future T Level learners, it’s been necessary for overlapping and supporting policy to fall in line, including that which directly affects schools and the pupils in them, just like yours.

T Levels

Set to launch in 2020, T Levels are the new flagship technical qualifications being introduced by the Government to provide a vocational alternative to A Levels for learners aged 16-18.

Covering a number of different industry sectors from healthcare to digital and equivalent to three A Level qualifications, the new two-year long programmes which comprise of a technical qualification integrated with maths, English and digital skills have been developed in partnership with industry leaders and employers to create a greater parity of esteem between academic and technical qualifications.

What does this mean for the current technical education system?

The introduction of T Levels will significantly reshape the landscape of technical qualifications at level 3, with the Government set to concentrate resources on these new qualifications and potentially withdraw funding from others. The Department for Education (DfE) will be reviewing the qualifications it currently funds at level 3 and below, with a view to streamlining this by August 2020.

It’s widely expected that funding for many existing level 3 qualifications that overlap with T Level subjects will be withdrawn. The DfE has also stated its intention to introduce a moratorium on funding new qualifications at level 3 and below– this essentially means that no new qualifications will be funded from September 2020.

All this is designed to stabilise the qualifications offer as T Levels are rolled out, and signifies the Government’s long term commitment to the policy.

Key stage 4 performance tables

Interestingly, the moratorium on key stage 4 performance tables will reopen in September 2021, after a three year freeze. This provides a welcome opportunity for awarding organisations to introduce new Technical Award qualifications, or improve their existing offer.

This could be key to the success of T Levels. The purpose of Technical Awards is to provide an alternative to GCSEs with a wide breadth and depth of study which, by their vocational nature, are highly engaging and provide opportunities for pupils to experience a different style of learning before deciding on which route to employment will be best for them – A Levels, T Levels or an apprenticeship.

Ofqual consultation: a chance to have your say

Ofqual has published a consultation on proposed new rules that will strengthen the regulation of Technical Awards listed in key stage 4 performance tables after the moratorium is lifted.

Some of the key points to note are as follows:

  • Terminal assessment – It’s proposed that Technical Awards should be assessed by a written assessment worth at least 40% of the qualification taken at the end of studies. There will still be a non-examined assessment which will continue to have a maximum 60% weighting.
  • Re-sits – Currently, learners are only allowed to re-sit an assessment once, this rule change will provide learners with further opportunities to re-sit the assessments.
  • Assessment windows – Ofqual is proposing that awarding organisations should provide two set dates each academic year for the assessment by exam to be taken. They are considering whether they should set the windows within which awarding organisations set these dates, and have asked for views on that.
  • Published levels of attainment - There’s a proposal to prevent awarding organisations publishing indicative boundaries ahead of assessment.
  • Grade scale – There is no current intention to create a uniformed grade scale for all awarding organisations to adhere to, or to align grading for Technical Awards with those of GCSEs.

The young people who are going to be impacted first by the changes proposed in the consultation are the school pupils in year 8 today, which is why teachers need to begin to prepare for what these changes might bring before these pupils select their year 9 options. We’d encourage all educators to take part in the consultation and have your say if you want to influence change.

Educators are invited to respond to the Ofqual consultation by Monday 2 December 2019 at 23:45.

For more information and to participate in the survey, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/regulating-performance-table-qualifications.

To find out more about T Levels, visit www.ncfe.org.uk/t-levels.

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