IfA extends T-level content consultation deadline after sector criticism

The Institute for Apprenticeships has extended the deadline on its latest T-levels consultation by four working days, following outcry from the sector at such a quick turnaround.

It is seeking suggestions for the content of new pathways in digital (production, design and development), childcare and education, and construction (design, surveying and planning).

However, it infuriated the sector by allowing just one week for answers, until June 4, during half-term when many in FE will be on holiday.

It has now extended that deadline until June 10.

“The original deadline was in line with our current process and we will need the outcomes to inform the route panels,” a spokesperson said.

“We have actually extended the deadline until June 10 as we recognise this will be the first time stakeholders will be seeing the final outline content and want to give them more time.”

The sector reacted with anger and confusion when FE Week revealed the original consultation deadline would span just five working days.

“An absolute joke… policy making in technical, vocational, further and adult education one long narrative of disjointed incrementalism…” tweeted Bob Harrison.

Bob Rose said: “Such an important piece of work for #FE to review with a deadline when most colleges area closed? Priceless! Have a coffee and surely speak to one another to get the best result! #communication #collaboration #CommonSense.”

And Suzanne Offer added: “Education sector has been waiting for substance re the T-Levels since Jan 2017 – it now has one week to respond to @IFAteched. Standard that @educationgovuk consultations are issued at 5pm pre bank holiday. Our children’s futures are not a career plaything @AnneMilton @DamianHinds.”

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

T-levels have been designed to increase the prestige of technical qualifications.

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.

In October she revealed that pathways in just three subject areas would go live in the first year.

It was then announced on Sunday that the remaining subject routes will now be rolled out in 2023, another year later than planned.

There have been worrying signs of slippage in the timetable, and many leaders, including the IfA’s chief executive Sir Gerry Berragan (pictured above), have voiced concerns.

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