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T-levels could increase the divide between academic and vocational learning

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Commenting on the passing of Motion 13 at the Annual Conference of the National Education Union, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“It is vital for both young people and the economy that technical qualifications have parity of esteem with academic ones. This does not need to involve separate educational pathways, and the NEU is concerned that T-levels could increase the divide between academic and vocational learning.

“T-levels will need to be excellent quality, but the panels designing these qualifications have no expertise in curriculum development or pedagogy. Nor do they have any experience of working with 14-19-year-old learners at further education colleges.

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“Teachers welcome reform, but they are realistic to the point of scepticism about its chances of success in a country so weak in its funding commitments and with a poor record of investment in training. This is of particular concern regarding the long work placements that learners will be required to complete as part of their T-level course. Experience shows us that employers do not step up to the plate when asked to provide opportunities for young people in the workplace. There are also many areas of the country where there are not enough employers near to colleges to accommodate all learners.

“The NEU supports a reformed, unified, properly-funded system of 14-19 curriculum and qualifications which help bring an end to the notion that academic and technical learning pathways at 16 are an ‘either/or’ option.”

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