From education to employment

Publication of data on T level enrolments shows government’s plan to scrap BTECs is “dead in the water”

students sat on steps with books and laptops

Responding to the publication of today’s T level action plan, James Kewin, Deputy Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association said:

“Today’s action plan confirms that the number of students studying a T level remains very low. Although the government has invested £1.8 billion in these flagship qualifications, this fourth year of enrolment data indicates that around 26,285 of the 1.2 million 16 to 18 year old students in England are currently studying a T level.  

“Ministers must draw two important conclusions from this report. First, their plan to scrap applied general qualifications like BTECs and replace them with T levels is dead in the water. There are approximately 280,000 students studying at least one applied general qualification and 26,285 students studying a T level. Even if the plan to replace the former with the latter was the right one, the numbers simply do not stack up (particularly as BTECs will start to be scrapped from next year) and will leave an enormous qualifications gap that tens of thousands of students will fall through. Ministers have previously suggested that students in this position will be able to complete the T Level Foundation Year before progressing to a T level; the latest figures in this action plan show that only 8% of Foundation Year students actually do so, a fall from 15% for the previous cohort.

“And second, in their current guise, T levels only appeal to a very small group of young people and must be reformed to ensure that all T level students get a fair deal. This will require a more flexible approach to the 45 day industry replacement and a broader review of content and assessment that involves genuinely listening to the views of students, the education sector and employers. The fact that 34% of T level students do not complete their course, and 20% switched to another course underlines the urgent need for reform. The equivalent numbers for A level students are 12% and 6%.

“The #ProtectStudentChoice campaign is delighted that the Labour party and Liberal Democrats have made a commitment to pause and review the disastrous plan to scrap most BTECs and replace them with T levels. It is now time for the government to make the same commitment. “

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