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Posted on June 13th, 2019

It feels like a watershed moment in the preparation for T Levels. The visual identity for the programmes has been unveiled. While just one aspect of a brand, as marketing colleagues tell me – the emergence of a visual identity makes T Levels that little bit more tangible and provides a reminder that they will become a reality in the very near future.

The ETF’s T Level Professional Development (TLPD) offer, which is helping teachers, leaders and institutions prepare for the new programmes – particularly focusing on those who will be delivering in 2020 and 2021 – has also become more tangible of late.

Recent weeks has seen the unveiling of self-assessment tools for the individuals and institutions who will deliver the new programmes, as well as Top Tips guides and subject-specific resources that will help to refresh teachers’ skills. The first Understanding T Levels webinar will take place before the end of June.

A great deal of activity has also been undertaken around Knowledge Hubs, Teacher Regional Improvement Projects (TRIPs) and Industry Insights. The Knowledge Hubs are well-established, the themes that the first 31 TRIPs will address agreed, and applications for 175 placements to be carried out under the auspices of Industry Insights are open.

But it isn’t any of this that tells me that we have reached a watershed, it’s the outlook of those that will provide T Levels. As those who will be providing the programmes from September 2020 are aware, one part of the TLPD offer is the support of a regional Professional Development Adviser (PDA). These are knowledgeable figures who make regular visits to confirmed providers, gathering feedback on how they are progressing with their CPD plans and providing appropriate support.

Provider feedback is of course very important; it helps to shape the TLPD offer. It’s also interesting because it highlights shifting views; the most significant we’ve seen so far is around the availability of the specifications for the programmes. Earlier in the development of TLPD, providers expressed scepticism about the extent to which they could meaningfully engage with T Levels and our offer until the full specifications had been published. Although there is still anxiety about the availability of the specs, we have seen lots of evidence in recent weeks that providers are forging ahead, utilising the outlines that are available and using them to engage meaningfully with TLPD. From various providers we’re hearing about skills audits being undertaken against outline frameworks, ideas for realistic working environments being developed and funding for them applied for, joint events with local business organisations being used to develop placement opportunities, and teachers embarking on their own programmes of industry updating and using feedback to identify further training needs. The range of initiatives now underway is impressive.

The shift that I believe these things reflect is an important one that establishes a new flow for TLPD. It’s come at a time when the profile of T Levels is also set to grow, with the announcement of the providers who will deliver T Levels from 2021 expected during the next month and growing interest in TLPD and its opportunities for engagement from those that may deliver them in the future.

The time to grasp the opportunities offered by TLPD is now and I encourage all providers to take what is available and encourage colleagues to pursue them. We look forward to supporting you as you do so.

Sam Dilliway-Davies

Head of T Level Professional Development, ETF

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