T-levels are the government’s answer to the decline of technical teaching in the UK. They will be offered as an alternative to A-levels for students of a more practical than academic inclination.
Education secretary Justine Greening yesterday announced the first three T-levels would be in construction, digital technology, and education & childcare. More T-level qualifications will follow on, in subjects such as manufacturing, engineering, legal, finance and accounting.
“As part of making sure that the technical education ladder reaches every bit as high as the academic one, I want to see T-levels that are as rigorous and respected as A-levels,” she said.
The content of T-levels will be developed by newly appointed panels comprising industry professionals and employers, including Morgan Sindall and Skanska.
All T-level programmes will also include a substantial work placement so that students can apply their learning in a real workplace.
The full T-levels action plan is available here.
The Department for Education has set up industry panels for each T-level course. Julian Weightman, chairman and owner of Border Craft Group, is chair of the construction panel – an appointment welcomed by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), on whose board he also serves.
“Julian has 18 years’ experience in the building sector and runs a small building firm in Hexham, northeast England,” said FMB chief executive Brian Berry. “Construction SMEs train two-thirds of all apprentices and make up 98% of the construction industry so it’s vital that the new T-levels work for small builders. Julian is committed to increasing the quality of vocational education and over the past two years, he successfully chaired the bricklayer and plasterer apprenticeship trailblazer group. Julian will be able to bring this recent experience to the table when leading on the development of the construction T-level, which arguably, will be even more challenging.”
However, Brian Berry also saw speed bumps ahead with the work experience requirements. “One of the biggest potential stumbling blocks for the T-level initiative will be the required amount of work experience for each young person. T-levels will rely on all students being able to complete three months’ work experience with an employer in their second year. Given that CITB statistics show the number of young people in construction-related further education far outweighs the number of apprenticeship places being offered by employers we need to find a solution to this problem. We owe it to young people to ensure we can deliver on what we promise so this needs to be properly thought through. It’s also important that construction T-levels dovetail with the new construction apprenticeships developed via the trailblazer process. A merger of the Department for Education’s technical panel with the Institute for Apprenticeships’ construction panel would assist this process.”
Other construction-related T-level panels will be chaired by Dayle Bayliss of Dayle Bayliss Associates and David Matthews of the Institute of Domestic Heating & Environmental Engineering.