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ESFA Launch a T Level Website for Employers
March 4, 2020
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Article by the Smaller Employer Engagement Team, Education and Skills Funding Agency.

We have launched a new section of the T Levels website aimed specifically at employers www.tlevels.gov.uk/employers. 

This sits alongside the existing pages aimed at students and their influencers.

The focus of the employer section is to inspire employers to get involved with offering industry placements now although there is also general information about T Levels.

Employers will be encouraged to visit the site through targeted social media advertising on LinkedIn and Twitter. This site will continue to develop over the coming months. If you have any comments or suggestions to feed into our planning for the site, please let us know and we’ll pass it on.

You may also have seen T Level posters on bus stops and other sites over the last few weeks. This is part of our second burst of Out of Home advertising aimed at young people close to colleges and schools offering the first T Level courses in September.

T Level Providers to Benefit from £110 million Boost.
February 10, 2020
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#TLevel providers across the country will benefit from a multi-million pound package of support to ensure they are ready to deliver the pioneering new courses, Education Secretary @GavinWilliamson announced on Friday 7 February 2020.

Further education providers delivering T Levels from 2021 to receive a share of £95 million to upgrade buildings and invest in high quality equipment

The government is investing up to £95 million through the T Level Capital Fund so young people taking the new technical qualifications from 2021 will have access to industry standard equipment and high-quality facilities.

The fund will be delivered in two parts:

  1. Eligible providers can bid for funding to refurbish existing buildings or create new spaces, from today.
  2. While funding for specialist equipment such as digital and audio-visual kit will be allocated to all providers in Spring next year.

£15 million investment to help boost FE teachers’ skills and expertise so they are ready to teach T Levels

Following a successful first phase, the government is also announcing the expansion of its innovative T Level Professional Development (TLPD), worth £15 million in 2020-21. The programme – which is being delivered by the Education and Training Foundation – provides tailored training and support to boost FE teachers and leader’s skills, industry knowledge and expertise for students to benefit from.

TLPD was first launched in spring 2019 and has already supported thousands of teachers, managers, support staff and governors.  The expansion will build on this success by delivering more training to an increased number of providers and across a wider range of T Level subject areas.

Gavin Williamson 100x100

Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said:

“T Levels will play a vital role in our drive to unlock talent and level up skills across the country.

“This cash injection will make sure more T Level providers and their staff are ready to teach the new qualifications, so young people have access to the high-quality teaching, first class facilities and industry standard equipment they need to succeed.”

Pioneering new T Levels will play a vital role in the government’s drive to level up skills and opportunity and build the workforce employers need to thrive

T Levels are high-quality technical alternatives to A Levels, combining classroom theory, practical learning and an industry placement to give students the skills they need to secure a great career and that will provide employers with the skilled workforce they need. The first T Levels in Childcare and Education, Construction and Digital will be first taught from September 2020, with a further seven available from 2021. The remaining 15 T Levels will be launched in 2022 and 2023.

The government has already invested £38 million through the T Level Capital Fund to support post-16 providers to be ready to deliver first three T Levels from this September. Providers including Barnsley College received £2.25 million to improve their SciTech Campus building and create a Digital Innovation Hub (DIH). Exeter College also received £2.5 million to help create a number of new facilities, including a dedicated space for students taking the Construction T Level.

The 8 Concerns Researchers Found at approved T-level Providers
January 7, 2020
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The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has published its second research report into T-levels reports FE Week.

The 8 concerns researchers found at approved T-level providers

It follows a roundtable event in October which included six providers due to deliver the new qualifications from September 2020, as well as government and sector body representatives.

The first report, published in June, was based on interviews with half of the first 50 T-level approved providers.

FE Week has pulled out the latest key findings…

1.Providers will have just six months to work out how to teach T-levels

The full specification for T-levels will not be available until March 2020, which leaves just six months for the first three pathways – childcare, digital and construction – to be made ready for teaching, including the summer break.

This was a “cause for concern” among providers and it was commented that while the childcare T-level will need less work to prepare, as it is similar to the CACHE level 3 diploma in childcare and education, the construction and digital pathways “included more content that was completely new for providers”.

2. Major work needed to raise awareness

“Delegates felt there remained significant work to do to raise the awareness and understanding of T-levels among young people, parents and carers, and employers,” the report reads.

This is despite the best efforts of the ‘NexT Level’, a campaign costing the taxpayer over £3 million to help recruit the first wave of learners for T-levels.

Providers said that without the detailed specifications they could not always answer students’ and employers’ more detailed questions about the qualifications.

3. WANTED: Learners for T-levels

Providers were positive about meeting their student recruitment targets, but this was because “they had set conservative targets which they felt were achievable”.

There were, however, concerns regarding school “protectionism” which is making it a struggle to promote T-levels in schools with sixth forms.

And learners could be put off by “the size of the qualification”: young people who rely on part-time jobs or had caring responsibilities would find it difficult to meet the 600 minimum guided learning hours requirement as well as the 315 hour minimum industry placement.

It was brought up that how those 600 hours would be spent, being instructed towards an exam-based assessment, would not attract students looking for workshop-style delivery and continuous assessment.

The question of how learners from rural areas could get transport to class and to their industry placement was also listed as a “concern”.

4. Industry placements need more flexibility

One of the most controversial aspects of T-levels is the requirement for learners to go on a 315-hour industry placement; the previous NFER roundtable found providers were concerned about a lack of viable placements.

Recognising the challenge, the Department for Education introduced flexibilities earlier this year, including allowing the placements to be taken with two different employers.

However, educators have called for further flexibility in what counted towards the industry placement; specifically, they wanted project-based learning and work-related learning to count towards it.

The NFER said: “This would enable the engagement of employers who lacked capacity to support a placement and did not have a physical base,” namely digital businesses.

5. WANTED: Staff for T-levels

Challenges in attracting staff from the construction, digital and engineering sectors will be “particularly severe,” says the report, because their industries can pay higher salaries.

Another hurdle providers spoke about was keeping staff’s industrial knowledge and skills up to scratch; an issue some providers have addressed by setting up a bank of freelance staff they can draw on to deliver part of the digital T-level.

6. Will completing a T-level enable learners to progress on to a level 4 apprenticeship?

T-levels’ “lack of” occupational competencies – the knowledge, skills and attributes for a vocational career – has raised doubts about whether learners completing the new qualification will be able to progress on to a level 4 apprenticeship.

This was particularly the case in technical and practically-orientated apprenticeships like construction and engineering, and will put a dent in “an important selling point for T-levels”: the size and scale of the industry placement.

It will also be up to universities whether they accept T-levels, which carry UCAS tariff points. There were questions over whether the Russell Group would accept them, which may influence other universities and could “tarnish” T-levels in the minds of parents.

7. Could T-levels be a block on social mobility?

The requirement for learners to have a grade four at GCSE maths and English was seen as a barrier to accessing T-levels, according to the NFER.

And the scale of the guided learning hours requirement and the industry placement is, as highlighted earlier, anticipated to be a problem for learners with part-time jobs or caring responsibilities.

As the specialist focus of T-levels and its exam-based assessment will not suit all learners, providers instead want the level 3 vocational and technical offer to “continue to provide young people with a range of options and learning styles, as well as broader vocational study”.

On that point…

8. Providers plea for BTECs and other AGQs to stay

“T-levels are heralded as ‘gold standard’ qualifications but applied general qualifications are an established route with a licence to practice,” the report reads.

Yet earlier this year the government launched a consultation on withdrawing funding for thousands of AGQs, ahead of T-levels’ introduction.

There remain “some concerns” around what is going to happen to BTEC/Cambridge Assessment level 3 vocational students “if some or all of these qualifications are discontinued and what might be the unintended consequences”.

It was felt at the roundtable, which was attended by a Department for Education representative, that the breadth and specialisation of AGQs and T-levels were different enough “that different types of qualifications can thrive alongside each other”.

When asked for a response, the DfE pointed out they had recently launched their T-level campaign to increase awareness and said it is working closely with HE providers and their decisions around admissions policies will be made in due course.

AoC’s Cath Sezen Discusses the Progress of T Levels and What the Future Could Bring
November 25, 2019
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FE News podcast with Cath Sezen, Senior Policy Manager – Further Education with the Association of Colleges. Cath chats about the T Level programme to date and what the future developments could hold.

Podcast with AoC's Cath Sezen on T Levels

https://www.fenews.co.uk/fevoices/224-podcasts/38739-aoc-s-cath-sezen-discusses-the-progress-of-t-levels-and-what-the-future-could-bring?

T-Levels
October 17, 2019
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#TLevels launch one year from now, giving young people a head start towards the career they want and businesses an opportunity to grow their future workforce with #IndustryPlacements.

Find out more:

http://ow.ly/aEW550wEpO8

Training Providers’ Views Urgently Needed on #TLevels
October 14, 2019
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The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) would welcome views from providers on draft outline content for two T Levels in Business and Admin (Management & Administration and Human Resources) and for one T Level in Hair and Beauty (Hair, Beauty & Aesthetics).

This content has been developed by T Level panels of experts and will be used by awarding bodies to develop technical qualifications for each T Level.

Why we are seeking views

Providers are well-placed to feedback on the suitability of courses, which is crucial in developing the detailed qualification specification and allocating funding to each course.

This will help us find out:

  • The number of hours we might expect the content covered to take (from your teaching experience).
  • The suitability of the content for teaching in a study-based setting.
  • If there are gaps in content or content that is unnecessary.
  • Whether the content will provide good preparation for skilled employment.
  • Whether this content would provide a good preparation for students to go on to higher education in a relevant area.
  • The differing levels of prior attainment required.

What are T Levels

T Levels are new two-year, technical study programmes that will be available across 11 industry routes. Alongside apprenticeships and A levels, T Levels will be one of the 3 major options available to students aged 16 – 19.

T Level panels of experts set out the knowledge and skills required for each T Level, based on the same occupational standards as apprenticeships. This ensures that individuals taking T Levels can develop the technical knowledge and skills required by employers in that industry.  

The outline content for the first T Levels  (in Education and Childcare, Construction,  Digital, and Health and Science) has already been approved and published, and forms part of the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the first wave of T Level Technical Qualifications. These T Levels will be rolled out from September 2020.

We are now consulting on the outline content for a further 4 T Levels, which will form part of a batch that will be rolled out from 2021 onwards.

The Institute oversees the development and approval of the standards, qualifications and occupational maps for T Levels and apprenticeships. In addition to their role in approving apprenticeship standards, the Institute’s Route Panels – made up of employers and industry experts – are scrutinising the outline content for all T Levels. The Institute will also award and manage contracts for the development of T Levels.

If you are a provider and would like to send in your feedback, please respond by midnight on Friday 1 November 2019.

What happens next?

We will consider your responses as we consider the outline content for the two pathways.

We will publish the final content for these T Level pathways in 2020.

3 in 5 Parents in England Have Still Not Heard of #TLevels
September 9, 2019
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A new survey commissioned by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) shows that 3 in 5 parents in England have still not heard of T Levels.

With only one year to go until the first T Levels are rolled out in England, a survey of parents of 11-18 year olds commissioned by CMI shows that around 3 in 5 parents (57%) have still not heard of T Levels and only 1 in 10 (11%) feel they know a lot about them.

This lack of awareness is greater among those from lower socioeconomic groups, where 84% of parents had never heard of T Levels.

Once explained, many parents are optimistic about the potential of T Levels. 71% think T Levels will help prepare young people with the skills needed for the workforce, 58% think they will be better than existing vocational programmes and 53% think they will have the same status and value as A Levels.

When challenged over the survey’s findings, the DfE said they would be launching a fresh “nationwide campaign” to raise awareness next month.

Public relations firm Havas Worldwide London Ltd won a contract to design the T-levels logo for £250,000 and has since been given access to £3 million for the implementation of the campaign in 2019/20.

The DfE has not said what this campaign will involve.

A YouTube video, which explains what T-levels are, was published by the DfE last year but has only had just over 11,000 views to date, while a similar video launched last month only has 970.

Rob Wall, Head of Policy at CMI said:

“Raising awareness of T Levels with parents is proving to be a real challenge. As parents are a major influencer in young people’s education and career choices, educating and informing parents will be key to making T Levels a success.

“At CMI, we know that high quality technical and vocational education increases employability and boosts social mobility and the Government’s recent announcement to invest additional funding in T Levels is to be welcomed. But students cannot enjoy these benefits if they are not aware of or not encouraged to consider non-academic pathways. 

“The fact that over 4 in 5 parents from lower income households have still not heard of T Levels should be a huge wake up call for Ministers and policy makers alike.”   

While some individual colleges have launched, or are gearing up to launch their own T-level awareness raising campaigns, some say they themselves do not have enough information about the new qualifications.

Sajid Javid Pledges Extra Funding for T-Levels
September 3, 2019
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Sajid Javid is to announce £400 million of extra funding for further education in England to support the introduction of new T-Level qualifications.

The chancellor wrote in The Guardian that the additional money, which is part of his spending review, will help fund the new technical and vocational qualifications as well as “more expensive” courses in science, engineering and mathematics.

‘I want this investment to start to end the snobbishness in some quarters about the quality and importance of a vocational education,’ he wrote. ‘It was a FE college that equipped me with the qualifications needed to pursue my ambitions.’

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said the funding will help young people “get the skills to get the right jobs”.

T-Levels were first announced in the 2017 Spring Budget as a new two-year qualification that will provide an alternative to A-Levels. They will combine a mix of classroom learning and on-the-job experience, with the first courses starting in September 2020.

News of further investment follows a pledge from then-chancellor Philip Hammond in his 2018 Spring Statement to channel £500 million into the new qualifications and £50 million into supporting employers to roll out T-Level placements.

Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Paul Johnson welcomed Javid’s funding announcement. “We hear a lot about schools. We hear a lot about universities. But it’s actually the further education sector that has had the biggest cuts since 2010,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Javid’s pledge comes as business groups have written to him urging government to use the spending review on Wednesday (4 September), brought forward to earlier in the month than planned, to broaden the apprenticeship levy.

In the joint letter the coalition of bodies said that a reformed levy would allow employers to spend funds more flexibly, helping millions more workers to benefit from training and career progression opportunities, and providing a much-needed boost to the UK economy.

The bodies, which represent hundreds of employers and include the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and CIPD, have written to the chancellor in response to commitments he made during his campaign for leadership of the Conservative Party.

Javid wrote in the Financial Times on 7 June that he would open up training opportunities to more workers. “I will broaden the apprenticeship levy into a wider skills levy, giving employers the flexibility they need to train their workforce while ensuring they continue to back apprenticeships,” he said.

The letter said ‘this would be the right step’: ‘A levy that allows businesses greater flexibility to fund accredited quality training that is effective for workers and employers – rather than meeting a government target – would be ideal. It would help to fill skills shortages and enable higher pay for workers,’ it stated.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said that the current levy system is not flexible enough and locks too many workers out of training.

“The apprenticeship levy was designed with the best intentions, but the current approach has not worked. The number of young workers doing apprenticeships has slowed and non-apprenticeship training has taken a huge hit. It’s time to think again. Moving away from a complex system that locks many workers out to a flexible skills levy that lets firms buy the most appropriate high-quality training for any worker is the right choice,” he said.

Carberry added that increased funding is vital to increasing productivity in the UK:

“Our Report on Jobs survey tells us that there are skills shortages all across the economy – from logistics to hospitality to health and social care, and the recruitment industry is doing its part to help. However, they employ almost one million temporary agency workers who are currently shut out of levy-funded training. A flexible skills levy would allow recruiters to provide quality training for temps, which would help them progress at work, earn more and fill some of these vital roles.

“At this critical time for the UK skills matter more than ever. It is time for this policy to be redesigned in order to boost productivity and help workers to learn and progress.”

CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said that the apprenticeship levy is too restrictive and prevents employers from creating more opportunities for workers.

“The apprenticeship levy is too inflexible and fails to encourage or create the best opportunities for employers to invest in the skills they need to boost the UK’s productivity and competitiveness. Our research shows employers want a more flexible training levy that supports investment in apprenticeships, as well as other equally-important forms of workplace training and development,” he said.

Javid has promised increased spending for schools, the NHS and the police in his spending review, but said public spending would still be restricted: “At a time when the global economy is slowing it’s important that we don’t let our public finances get out of control. Any departments expecting a blank cheque will be sorely disappointed.”

At a pre-spending review speech last Wednesday (28 August) shadow chancellor John McDonnell criticised the spending plans as trying to appeal to voters. “People see through this exercise as crude electioneering […] You take the top three or four issues that are prioritised in the opinion polls and throw as much and as little money and promises at them that will shift enough votes,” he said.

“That’s why we have had a number of grandiose announcements from Boris Johnson throughout the past month on the NHS, education and policing. If nothing else this has proved what we have said all along: austerity was always a political choice not an economic necessity.”

UCAS has Confirmed T Levels will be Allocated UCAS Points in Line with 3 A Levels
August 27, 2019
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UCAS has confirmed T Levels will be allocated UCAS points in line with 3 A levels.

The Tariff is a broad metric based on a qualification’s size and grading structure, and uses regulated information to inform its allocation.

The Tariff score allocated to T Levels aligns to the standard confirmed by the Department for Education. Further information on this can be found on the Department for Education’s website.

The Tariff points allocated for each overall grade is as follows:

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

“T Levels will be the gold standard technical course of choice for young people post-16 and will carry UCAS points equivalent to 3 of our world-class A levels. This means young people, parents and employers can be confident T Levels will be just as stretching as their academic equivalents, and will offer students the option of progressing to the next level, whether that is a job, higher technical training, a degree or an apprenticeship.

“Last week the Education Secretary also announced that T Level results will be published on the same day as A levels from 2022, so that all students receive the recognition they deserve for their hard work.

“We have also confirmed today that students who pass all elements of their T Level will receive an overall grade of Pass, Merit, Distinction or Distinction*; and they will get a nationally recognised certificate (‘T Level Certificate’) which will show their overall grade and a breakdown of what they have achieved across the T Level programme.”

Copies of Presentations Explaining T Levels
June 25, 2019
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As T Levels are gaining momentum more organisations are sharing their knowledge about them.

The following are copies of presentations made to the CDI by Sue Clarke from DfE and Gatsby.

 Gatsby T Levels Awareness Raising CDI 2019

Intro to T Levels – CDI