At the end of November 2017, the Government launched its consultation on T-Levels, the new ‘gold standard’ technical qualifications which are due to be rolled out in 2020.
Edge agrees that there is a need to simplify the vast range of options for young people, and applauds the ambition to raise the quality and perception of technical and professional education.
However, there are three key areas which need to be addressed if T-Levels are going to deliver. While the development of a system of technical education post-16 is welcome, it makes no sense in isolation from schools policy up to that age.
The focus on school performance measures and the wholly academic focus of the EBacc are contrary to the ethos of valuing and delivering quality technical and creative education. The result of this blinkered approach to education policy has been a protracted decline in the study of creative and technical subjects. For example, the number of GCSE entries in Design and Technology has fallen by more than two fifths since 210.
There is also the danger that T-Levels will reinforce the divide between academic and technical education forcing young people at 16 to follow a singular pathway, even despite the Government’s own Careers Strategy advocating ‘a combination of the two routes will be most suitable for some people’.
Finally, T-Levels will stand or fall on the ability for young people to progress onto a quality higher technical qualification. The number of learners achieving level 4 and 5 awards under the college budget in 2014/15, fell by 36 per cent on the previous year. The Government’s plans to review level 4 and 5 provision much be integral to the work on T-Levels.
This is our response and you are welcome to use it in creating your own. Technical education is not only a vital part of a balanced education, but critical to our economy and we need your voice to shape these reforms.