September 2020 saw a significant milestone in technical education reform - the initial teaching of the first three T-levels. Providers across the country have demonstrated great commitment to introduce these new high-quality programmes that offer clear progression opportunities for their students and fulfil the skills needs of employers.
T-levels are two-year technical study programmes that will become one of three main options – alongside A-levels and apprenticeships – for young people choosing further study at age 16. The content of T-levels has been based on employer-determined standards in order to prepare young people to start their careers in skilled employment. A T-level programme comprises a large technical qualification, an extended industry placement spent working with an employer for at least 315 hours (around 45 days), and a minimum standard in maths and English for students who have not already achieved this.
The first T-level programmes are now being taught in around 45 providers across England, in three subject areas: Digital production, design and development; Design, surveying and planning for construction; and Education and childcare. From September 2021, a further seven T-levels will be available for delivery by an increased number of providers, with the remainder introduced in the following two academic years, taking the total number of T-level pathways on offer to 24.
We remain impressed with the progress providers introducing these qualifications this year and next have made in building key employer relationships and planning their curricula to support local skills needs while offering robust progression opportunities for students. In the five local areas supported directly by Gatsby, examples of providers working collaboratively – eg to access staff CPD and share experiences of curriculum planning – have illustrated the value of situating T-levels within coherent planning for wider technical education reforms, with providers able to form a joint picture of likely progression routes including apprenticeships and higher technical qualifications.
We will continue to work with providers, employers and other stakeholders as the T-level rollout progresses in the coming years, focusing on supporting capacity for employer engagement, further illustrating progression pathways in particular routes and localities, and support for teachers and staff to continue to deliver high-quality technical education.