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 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. For further information about the introduction of T-levels see the Department for Education's overview or visit the T-levels website.
Gatsby Education’s Senior Project Officer, Dominic Martinez, reflects on the conclusion of the 2020 study programme year for the first cohort of T-level students.
It is hard to believe that the inaugural cohort of T-level students across England are coming to the end of their first year, marking a significant milestone for these young people – and for these new high-quality programmes.
September 2020 saw T-levels in Digital production, design and development; Design, surveying and planning for construction; and Education and childcare. We salute the students, colleges & schools, and employers who have supported the introduction of these new high-quality qualifications for young people starting their career journeys.
Around 45 providers have delivered T-levels in 2020/21 with a further 150 providers starting their delivery for this gold standard technical study programme over the next two years. Twenty more subjects are coming on stream over the next two years including T-levels in the technical education routes Health & Science, Engineering & Manufacturing and Legal, Finance and Accounting. Visit https://www.tlevels.gov.uk/students/subjects for a full list of T-level subjects.
The first T-level students have been impressed with the quality of their programmes:
Students have been supported by fantastic practice in some of England’s most innovative providers who are ensuring employer input into the curriculum, relevant project work and the extended industry placement - and students recognise how this will help them acquire the relevant knowledge and skills they need.
Gatsby has worked with five local areas as they have prepared to introduce T-levels. We have seen great examples of providers working collaboratively together to secure industry placements, sharing employer inputs into the curriculum and developing shared local CPD for teachers. This work demonstrates the value of situating T-levels within coherent planning for wider technical education reforms, enabling providers to form a joint picture of likely progression routes including apprenticeships and higher technical qualifications.
This has led to high-quality delivery using the latest technology and integrating employer knowledge and guidance into the programme alongside access to memberships of relevant professional bodies for example, BCS for Digital T-level students.
For further exemplars of collaborative work across the local areas visit Gatsby: Improving Technical Education. 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, sharing understanding of progression pathways, and developing resources to support teaching.
Gatsby is working with further education providers and employer organisations to ensure the successful implementation of technical education reform and T-level programmes. A collection of videos demonstrating good practice, and testimonies from students, providers and employers is currently available online via the link below: