Cardiff and Vale College has hosted the Welsh element of the UK’s first ever BTEC Results Day – a celebration of a qualification that is an alternative to, but also equivalent to, A Levels.

BTECS can be studied alongside A Levels and are often more practical, focusing on vocational areas. With a focus on continuous assessment rather than exams, a BTEC can be equivalent to three A Levels and secure a student progression to university – some 10% of successful university applicants took the BTEC route.

Cardiff and Vale College is one of the largest BTEC providers in the country – in 2018-19 some 11,000 BTECS were taken in Wales, with 2,000 of those being delivered by CAVC.

One such example is Tasnim Bhuiyan, who moved from Italy to Cardiff at 16 and to study an English course before progressing on to a BTEC in Cyber Security. Having successfully completed his course he has now been offered a place at the University of South Wales.

“The mix of practical and theoretical is really useful – I enjoyed the experience and would definitely recommend a BTEC to other people,” he said.

Fellow Cyber Security BTEC learner Lewis Burrows has been offered a place at the University of West England to study Computer Security and Forensics.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I had just done regular A Levels and stayed in school,” Lewis said. “A BTEC is much more practical and in you are in a college – you get to learn a lot more.

“I was nervous about picking up my results but I got a triple Distinction and a D*, which I didn’t even know you could get at this level so I’m really, really happy.”

BTECS are available in a range of subject areas, from Business and IT through Creative to Sport and Health and Social Care.

Aaron Tyner, captain of CAVC’s Football Academy during 2018-19, got a triple Merit and is progressing to the University of South Wales to study Sports Coaching and Development.

He said: “Having no exams but loads of course work made life a lot easier for me. I want to go into coaching, specifically football coaching, and this course really helped me get into uni – I would 100% recommend a BTEC.”

Aaliyah Martinson is about progress to Level 3 Sport at CAVC.

“The way the BTEC is sectioned off and goes into more detail about each area makes it much easier and more detailed, instead of just rushing in to do an A Level,” Aaliyah said. “I think you get to learn more that way.

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“My BTEC has been really enjoyable; I’ve made such good friends and I’ve really learned a lot that will help me in my future.”

Jessica Whelan is a young carer who achieved a triple Distinction in her Health and Social Care BTEC. She is now progressing on to study Child Nursing in university.

“I was more interested in Health and Social Care than just doing A Levels in English, Maths and Science,” Jessica said. “I’ve gone from getting just Cs in my GCSEs to getting a triple Distinction in college. People think a BTEC is lower than an A Level but it’s really the same and just as hard as A Levels but more detailed – I’d definitely recommend it.”

Cardiff and Vale College Principal Kay Martin said: We are delighted to be hosting and celebrating  the first BTEC Results Day in the UK. Cardiff and Vale College has delivered BTEC qualifications for many years to many thousands of people and we have seen the positive impact that they have.

“We truly believe in the importance of both academic and vocational routes, and BTECs are an excellent example of this. Highly valued by employers and Higher Education institutions alike, BTECs developed skilled and employable people who go on to progress, whether it be starting a career or going on to university.”

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