T-level content published - but 5 day consultation deadline branded 'staggering'

The Institute for Apprenticeships is giving the FE sector just five working days to respond to its consultation on the draft content for the first three T-levels – during half term.

The body that will become responsible for the whole T-level programme later this year published the long-awaited draft content for pathways in digital, construction, and education and childcare today.

It is asking for views ahead of their planned roll-out in 2020, but it has sensationally set a consultation deadline for June 4.

To make matters even more difficult, the IfA has chosen to launch it during half-term week, during which time many in the sector will be off on holiday and unable to partake.

Mark Dawe, the chief execuitve of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, branded the deadline as “staggering”.

“While we know that the T -level Panels contain many experts, the experience of the apprenticeship trailblazers offers serious lessons on why proper consultation is needed before content is signed off,” he told FE Week.

“So it’s staggering that the institute is only giving the sector five working days to submit views on whether the content is right.

“Even worse it’s over a bank holiday and half-term, so you can’t help wondering how serious they are about getting feedback.”

Readers can view the draft content here.

Interestingly, the IfA is not going ahead with the building services engineering pathway in 2020, and has chosen to instead go with design, surveying and planning.

“A review of content has resulted in the design, surveying and planning pathway being selected for delivery of a T-level in 2020, ahead of building services Engineering, which will now follow for first delivery in 2021,” the IfA said.

“We are seeking your views to help ensure that the content captures the right knowledge, skills and performance outcomes that will ensure students are ready to enter employment within their chosen occupational specialism.”

T-levels have been designed to increase the prestige of technical qualifications, as match for A-levels.

They were originally intended to come in from 2019, but in July last year the skills minister Anne Milton announced they had been put back to 2020.

A subsequent announcement in October revealed that pathways in just three subject areas would go live in the first year, with the remaining subject routes launched by 2022.

But there have been worrying signs of slippage in this timetable.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the education secretary Damian Hinds had in an unprecedented step refused a written request from his permanent secretary, Jonathan Slater, to delay the initial roll-out another year until 2021.