Qualifications, T Levels

DfE renames struggling T Level transition programme

Officials think the name change will improve progression to T Levels

Officials think the name change will improve progression to T Levels

19 Jul 2023, 16:33

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The T Level transition programme has been renamed to encourage more young people to progress to T Levels. 

The Department for Education (DfE) will now call the programme the T Level foundation year, though providers are not expected to use the new name until the 2024/25 academic year.

The announcement was made in the department’s response to its consultation on level 2 qualifications that support progression to T Levels.

“We are making this change to strengthen the relationship with T Levels and signal clearly that this is the first step on a three-year path to achieving a T Level, for those students who need to take a foundation year,” the report said.

Other future qualifications that are designed to support T Level progression will be called T Level foundation qualifications. Ofqual is now consulting on its plans to regulate those qualifications before teaching begins in 2026.  

A series of national technical outcomes (NTOs) documents, one for each of the 12 T Level routes, has now been agreed which set out the knowledge and skills the new foundation qualifications should deliver for students.

Qualifications as part of the transition programme/foundation year will still be optional, though most providers are choosing to include them.

Destination unknown

To date, nearly 9,800 students have taken part in the T Level transition programme, but it’s not known how many of those have completed and progressed to a full T Level.

Last year FE Week revealed that just 14 per cent of the 847 transition programme students in 2020/21 progressed to a full T Level, the first year the programme was introduced. 

English and maths requirements, a lack of suitable industry placements and more attractive qualification offers were all cited as factors in the low transition rate.  

FE Week understands there is concern among senior officials that progression from the programme to T Levels has continued to be low.

Participation numbers have grown as more T Level routes have come online and the number of providers delivering T Levels increases. 

The number of transition programme students increased to 3,348 in 2021/22 and 5,600 in 2022/23. Progression data, such as how many of them dropped out, switched to a different level 2 qualification, progressed to a T Level or progressed to a different level 3 qualification, has not been released.

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