Review of post-16 qualifications at Level 3 and below

23 November 2020 Natasha Watkinson

Government has launched the second stage of its review of post-16 qualifications at Level 3 in England, alongside a call for evidence on Level 2 and below qualifications.

This review forms part of comprehensive positive reform for post-16 technical education, including the introduction of T-levels and new higher technical qualifications, for which employer-driven standards are central.

The review aims to ensure: 

  • clearer qualifications choices for young people and adults
  • that every qualification approved for public funding has a distinct purpose, is high quality and supports progression to positive outcomes for students

The outcome will be a simpler qualifications landscape, with fewer overlapping qualifications that are not well understood or valued by employers. Apprenticeships, T-levels and A-levels will be the resulting programmes of choice for 16-to-19-year olds taking Level 3 qualifications, with a reduced number of other targeted qualifications that must be of consistent high quality.

The Level 3 consultation seeks views on the Department for Education’s proposals for the groups of qualifications that would continue to be funded alongside A-levels and T-levels. This consultation follows the first stage of the review, which took place in 2019.

Responses to the initial phase informed criteria for the removal of funding approval for qualifications which were not of sufficiently high quality, overlapped with T-levels or A-levels, and did not demonstrably lead students to successful outcomes in further study or entry to skilled employment.

Full details of the outcome of the first phase of the consultation are here:

The second phase consultation documents are here, with responses invited from stakeholders wishing to comment on the proposals:

A call for evidence seeking views on post-16 study and qualifications at level 2 and below has also been launched, to bring together information on what is working well and what more can be done to support study at level 2 and below – in order to ensure that students have clear and coherent pathways to good outcomes. Responses can be submitted here: