Another two providers delay T-level launch plans

Two more providers due to teach the first T-levels in just two months’ time have delayed delivery for at least a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It means the number of colleges, schools and other providers in England in wave one of the rollout of the new post-16 technical qualifications has now fallen from an original 50 to just 44.

The providers delaying their 2020 T-level launch plans are Sandwell Academy and Walsall Studio.

Another provider which was signed up to deliver T-levels from 2021, Reigate College, has also pulled out of delivery.

Announcing the decisions today, a Department for Education spokesperson said: “Due the impact of coronavirus, Sandwell Academy and Walsall Studio have both decided to delay delivery of T-levels until 2021. Both providers remain fully committed to T-levels and we will continue to work closely with them to make the programme a success.

“Reigate College also remains committed to delivering T-levels in the longer term but has decided not to do so in 2021 so they can focus on working with students on existing qualifications to ensure a positive recovery from Covid-19.”

The DfE added: “We are really pleased that the vast majority of 2020 providers remain on track to deliver T-levels from September and we thank FE leaders and staff for their continued support and hard work.”

Today’s news comes a month after four other T-level providers – Access Creative College, Durham Sixth Form Centre, Salesian School and University College Birmingham – also cancelled their plans for a 2020 delivery.

Another provider, York College, announced at the same time that it will now only offer one T-level route this year instead of all three they had planned for.

Other providers had pulled out of or delayed T-level delivery prior to Covid.

In October, education secretary Gavin Williamson’s old college, Scarborough Sixth Form, pulled out of offering construction and digital pathways from 2020 because of a lack of opportunities for the T-levels’ mandatory 315-hour work placements locally, and a shortage of good-quality teachers.

Three schools previously ditched plans to take part in the 2020 wave.

Skills minister Gillian Keegan confirmed in April that the government would drive forward with plans to launch the first T-levels from September 2020 despite the disruption being caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

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

The first three T-levels – in construction, digital and education and childcare – will be taught from September 2020 with more rolled out gradually between 2021 and 2023.

The new post-16 qualifications have been designed to be the technical equivalent and on a par with A-levels.

Walsall Studio, Sandwell Academy and Reigate College have been approached for comment.