AoC wins secretive T-levels transition offer tender

The Association of Colleges has won a contract with the government to develop a “transitional” course for T-levels, following a secretive and restrictive procurement.

It will now design the offer and support providers with its “phased” implementation running up to first delivery of the new post-16 technical qualifications in 2020 and 2021.

The course, recommended by Lord Sainsbury in his technical education report in July 2016, will be for 16-year-olds to take if they are not ready to start a T-level at level three, but can “realistically achieve it” by age 19.

“The T-level transition framework will help young people, who may not quite be ready, get up to speed with the skills and gain the confidence they need before starting their T-level,” skills minister Anne Milton said today.

“I’m thrilled that we have appointed the Association of Colleges to support the first T-level providers to run a phased implementation of the transition offer in 2020 and 2021.

“The Association of Colleges has a wealth of FE technical expertise and will be well-placed to take this important work forward.”

A tender for an organisation to develop this offer was finally launched in February but only ran for 15 days.

The DfE was then accused of “locking out” small firms, as the procurement was only made available to suppliers in a specific category in its Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS).

The DfE refused to release the tender documents, list who is eligible to apply or even say how much the contract is worth.

The department again today would not reveal how much the contract is worth, saying the information is commercially sensitive.

David Hughes, chief executive of the AoC, said: “We bid for this work, in the normal way, because it is important to our members and because we have lots of expertise and understanding of the issues.

“We were pleased to win and are getting on with delivering the work needed.”

Timescales for developing the transition course will be tight, as there is just over a year to go until the first three T-levels, in education and childcare pathway, design, surveying and planning, and digital production, design and development, are delivered.