Since T Levels were announced, I saw a great opportunity for Strode College to capitalise on its already outstanding Academic and Vocational curriculum; and bring together the best of both worlds.

I knew that the T Levels were going to be challenging, high quality Level 3 qualifications that would require the very best mix of academic knowledge applied to real, practical, industry situations.

I recognised how Strode College could bring these elements of its current curriculum together and apply the Vocational and Academic staff’s strengths and skills to the new T Level qualifications.

Priority Employment Sectors

We will be offering the Digital and Education and Childcare pathways in September 2020. It is still early days, but the staff within these curriculum areas are embracing the challenge and are excited about the new content and employment opportunities that could be available to our students.

Local labour market intelligence identifies both these areas as priority employment sectors and our work is closely aligned with the Heart of the South West LEP’s priority areas.

Utilising the Capacity Development Fund

We are making steady progress with finding industrial placements using the capacity development fund and made the decision to focus our energy on the digital and education industries in preparation for 2020.

However, we are already looking ahead to the other T Levels we want to deliver and making sure that industrial placements are being sought within these areas too.

As a College in rural Somerset, the main challenge is the distance our students must travel to access the industry placements, but they see the fantastic opportunities these placements will provide.

Staff Commitment

Staff at the college are highly engaged and committed to T Levels, for example,

Kirsty Woods, Industrial Placement Coordinator at Strode College says:

‘Employers are excited by the opportunities T Level Industrial Placements offer them. They see the T Level Industrial Placements as a key part of addressing their skills shortages because the placement offers a fantastic chance to spot early talent and build their workforce for the future.’

Terri Clemo, Vocational Manager, Care and Education says:

’As a Curriculum Manager I am very enthusiastic about T Levels and look forward to working closely with employers to ensure students are work ready.’

Cathy Hawkins, Head of Marketing and Student recruitment says:

‘We have received some useful marketing collateral for T Levels such as a generic leaflet, an employer’s leaflet, infographics and video links and are looking forward to additional budget so we can promote T Levels to School Leavers, schools, employers and other stakeholders locally.’

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Shonagh Butler, Assistant Principal and Director of Vocational Studies says:

‘Strode College's involvement in the T Level pilot has been interesting and exciting with staff welcoming the opportunity to shape curriculum content and delivery by taking part in the consultation process. This involvement has also guided us to reflect on future training and development requirements for our staff.’

Many Unknowns

There is still quite some way to travel and there remain many unknowns, in particular the future of applied general qualifications, the transition phase and what will happen at Level 4 and Level 5.

We believe there will still be a key group of students leaving school for which the applied generals are the best option. But, we also see how some of these students and some of our A level students are going to flourish studying a T Level.

We are keen to continue to work closely with the DfE and others, so that future developments have that critical practioner perspective, influence and input.

But at last it feels like technical education is being given the platform, profile and attention it so rightly deserves.

Katy Quinn Principal and CEO of STRODE COLLEGE

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