Is pushing ahead with T-levels fair on young people?

25 May 2018, 10:30

The top civil servant at the DfE, responsible for the “feasibility of public spending” has concluded that T-levels need delaying for a second year.

Jonathan Slater’s formal “ministerial direction” means the civil service feels the need to tell the National Audit Office, the Treasury and the Public Accounts Committee there are “feasibility and consequential value-for-money risks”.

This astonishing procedural first at the DfE has arisen because the education secretary wrote back to disagree, saying “none of the advice has indicated that teaching from 2020 cannot be achieved”.

None of the advice? Did I read that right!?

In truth, the minister has probably looked at the rushed implementation of apprenticeship standards and concluded that teaching can begin at 30 to 50 colleges even before awarding organisations are in place.

A lack of awarding organisations in time for course starts is a real risk because there will be a winner takes all competition and the DfE has a record of tender delays and legal challenge.

But wait, it is the Institute for Apprenticeships which has to do the hard work – and it’s not like they aren’t busy at present – rather than the DfE.

Farming out complex and controversial jobs to a quango will look awfully convenient when the DfE distances itself from the chaos, and now Jonathan Slater also has his “I did try to warn you” letter.

So my prediction is that teaching is indeed feasible from 2020, but based on the current state of play, would I encourage a 16-year-old to enrol in September 2020?


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