From education to employment

Education and employer groups write to education secretary about plans to scrap BTECs

People sat in lecture room

The leaders of 29 education and employer groups have written to the recently-appointed Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan to express their concern about the government’s plan to scrap many BTEC qualifications. 

The letter was sent as the Department for Education prepares to launch the next phase of its Review of Post-16 Qualifications at Level 3 , in which many applied general qualifications such as BTECs will be removed to make way for a system where most young people study either A levels or a T level (a new technical qualification) at the age of 16. 

The 29 signatories – leaders of employer groups and organisations that represent students, staff and leaders in schools, colleges and universities – are members of the #ProtectStudentChoice: don’t scrap BTECs campaign co-ordinated by the Sixth Form Colleges Association. 

In their letter to the Secretary of State, the leaders write that “for a significant number of young people, applied general qualifications will continue to provide a more effective route to higher education or skilled employment than A levels or T levels”. They go on to make three recommendations that “would enable us to achieve our shared ambition to create a world class 16 to 19 education system, but do so without disadvantaging young people or employers”. 

The first recommendation is to remove 134 applied general qualifications from the scope of the forthcoming government review, as they have only recently been through a rigorous process of reform and it would be “bureaucratic and unnecessary” to put them through a further approval process. 

The second is to exclude 33 health-related courses from the review as “given their importance to the healthcare workforce, it would be very damaging to the NHS to remove funding for these qualifications”.

And the third recommendation is to allow medium or large BTEC qualifications (equivalent to 2 or 3 A levels) to be eligible for reapproval. Under current plans, only small applied general qualifications (equivalent to 1 A level) and a small number of large qualifications that are deemed to not overlap with T levels will be considered as part of the government’s review.

Commenting on the letter, James Kewin, Deputy Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association that is co-ordinating the ProtectStudent Choice campaign said:

“We hope the Secretary of State will implement the three practical recommendations in this letter from the Protect Student Choice campaign before embarking on the next phase of the post-16 qualification review. The education and employer leaders that signed the letter all share the government’s ambition to create a world class 16 to 19 education system, but believe these proposals must be adopted to avoid disadvantaging young people and employers. Applied general qualifications like BTECs have a vital role to play alongside A levels and T levels in the future qualifications landscape.”  

  1. The letter to the Secretary of State for Education can be found here
  2. More information about the #ProtectStudentChoice campaign can be found here.
  3. More information about the Department for Education’s Review of Post-16 Qualifications at Level 3 can be found here. The next phase of the review is scheduled to begin in “Autumn 2022”
  4. This response to a recent parliamentary question shows that just 134 of the 5,200 qualifications in scope of the government’s review are Level 3 applied general qualifications   

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