T-level content finally published as minister says most colleges 'wanted to continue'

The long-awaited content for the first three T-levels is set to be published as the skills minister pleads with providers to not pull out of delivery in light of the coronavirus crisis.

Gillian Keegan has sent a letter to the sector making it “clear” that the government is “fully committed” to delivering the first of the new post-16 technical qualifications as planned in September.

It comes as the content and specifications of the first three T-levels, which were supposed to be made available last month, are due to be published by Pearson and NCFE tonight.

Keegan’s letter said the Covid-19 outbreak has had a “huge effect on your work and that we don’t yet know what the full impact will be, but there are very strong reasons for us to continue”.  

While providers have “rightly raised some issues” with delivery, “most wanted to continue to deliver the first T-levels this year”.

“I know how hard you have all worked, both to help develop T Levels, and to get into a position to deliver them, and I do not want your hard work to be wasted. ,” she added.

“The government is also determined that students will not lose out on opportunities due to Covid-19 – hundreds have already been accepted onto courses and hundreds more will be accepted between now and September.

“We owe it to these young people to find ways to continue to deliver the courses that they have chosen and that will offer them great progression opportunities.”

Minister Keegan continued: “I also firmly believe that T-levels are absolutely vital for businesses and the economy of this country. We know that the current system does not produce enough young people with the skills, knowledge and experience that employers need.

“Now – more than ever – it will be vital to ensure that we provide a pipeline of skilled young people that will help our businesses and our economy to recover.  

“I do not underestimate the difficulties in carrying on with delivery in the current climate. Please do get in touch with your usual ESFA contact if you encounter specific issues or have questions, I have asked officials to report to me regularly on the issues that are being raised and what we can do to overcome them.”

The first three T-levels to be delivered from September, by 50 providers, are in design, surveying and planning for construction, digital production, design and development, education and childcare. 

Keegan said that in light of the “current challenges”, the Department for Education will “reduce the information returns that we ask you to send us for the rest of the academic year to the minimum requirements”.

The T-level professional development offer delivered through the Education and Training Foundation will “remain available online”.

The minister added that the “unprecedented impact” of Covid-19 has meant that it is “currently extremely difficult for you to continue to organise and deliver industry placements through the Capacity and Delivery Fund (CDF), which was already one of the most challenging elements in delivering T-levels”.

Given these “exceptional and unprecedented circumstances”, T-level providers “will not be penalised for missing specific CDF targets this academic year” and “funding will not be clawed back if you can demonstrate how the funding has and will continue to support your work on industry placement delivery”.

Click here to read Keegan’s letter in full.