Case study: Barnsley College’s T-level journey

15 December 2021 Dominic Martinez

Barnsley College is an Ofsted-rated outstanding college and a Wave One provider of T-levels – one of only 50 or so early adopters across the whole of England. Here is a snapshot of their first year delivery of T-levels and advice for others.

Barnsley students like Greg Devine speak very positively about his choice of T-level, and the  currency that his new qualification will give him in the world of work.

This article highlights Barnsley’s journey so far and identifies key steps that college staff feel are important for providers preparing to deliver T-levels.

Neil Johnson, Assistant Principal at Barnsley College, described the college’s strategic choice to apply to be an early adopter. The team believed that successful delivery of the new qualification required a whole college approach to T-level delivery.

Successful implementation was a joint endeavour between college leadership and across staff teams teaching and supporting the new qualification. Staff are empowered to participate in their own Continuing Professional Development (CPD) - acknowledging areas for self-improvement and planning steps to move forward, with active support from leadership.

T-levels provide students with an opportunity to undertake a 45-day (315 hours) industry placement, which is an integral part of their study programme. However, it is clear that industry engagement in the T-level curriculum at Barnsley is not restricted to placements. The college works with colleagues from industry to supercharge the curriculum and build industry knowledge, skills and behaviours into the programmes from the first day of a T-level course, and across every aspect of delivery and development. This includes opportunities for co-teaching with professionals, industry experts talking about their experience directly to students and an increased understanding of how different industries use up to date technology and equipment in their day-to-day work. 


“Listening to staff and students at Barnsley college, who are a year into their T-level journey, was both eye-opening in terms of the effort from all members of the teaching and support teams that go into creating a successful programme but also inspiring in that all the key stakeholders – staff, students and industry partners – saw the benefits of getting the best out of their joint endeavour and were determined to make it a success for everyone.”
Dominic Martinez, Project Manager, Gatsby

A video showcasing Barnsley College’s first year experience is available to watch and share with colleagues. Further videos are shared here, Improving Technical Education. The site has additional resources to support successful delivery of these exciting qualifications.