Ofsted has pushed back its research into T Levels by a year due to the pandemic.
A thematic survey looking into the implementation of the government’s flagship qualifications and its transition programme in their first two years was announced in December 2020.
An interim report was due out in September 2021 with the final report planned for September 2022. But a spokesperson for the watchdog told FE Week: “We’ve had to push back our T Level thematic survey by a year because of the pandemic.
“We will publish an interim report in autumn next year, with the final report being published in autumn 2023. In all other respects, our approach will be the same as what was announced previously.”
Visits to T Level providers ‘will continue’
The thematic survey involves visiting a sample of the over 100 current T Level providers and applying Ofsted’s education inspection framework to assess educational effectiveness and the quality of education.
This is intended to give an independent overview of the quality of T Levels, including strengths, weaknesses, areas for improvement and good practice, which can be fed back to government and stakeholders.
Ofsted says these visits “have started and will continue until next spring”.
T Levels have already faced disruption of their own
Ten T Levels are now available for delivery, with three having been rolled out in the first wave in 2020 and a further seven starting last September.
Six extra courses will start in 2022, followed by another seven in 2023.
The pandemic has already taken a heavy toll on the new level 3 qualifications, cutting off opportunities for students to fulfil the 315-hour mandatory industry placement.
Colleges were forced to postpone placements for students on the early years T Level earlier this year, to keep students as well as employers and children at nurseries safe.
After an FE Week investigation this month found 9 out of 10 T Level providers had missed enrolment targets for the second wave of T Levels, the Department for Education admitted there have been “some challenges” in securing placements “as a result of Covid-19”.
Students who started their T Level in 2020 can now spend a maximum of 40 per cent of their placement hours remotely after the government issued a new flexibility in November.
The NHS, local councils and employers are also being pressed upon to offer up more industry placements after colleges have struggled to find enough for their students.
Ofsted has already had to suspend inspections this week, to allow providers to prepare contingency plans for handling the Omicron variant of Covid-19 when students return in January.