Ministers have doubled down on the timeline for defunding qualifications that overlap with T Levels, despite fierce criticism of the “dogmatic” approach.
Some of the T Levels due to launch this autumn have been delayed but the government has insisted that funding for other level 3 qualifications, such as BTECs, will continue only if they meet strict criteria and do not overlap with the new provision.
The government has pursued a revised 16 to 19 education landscape for 2025, pushing students to study A-levels, a T Level or an apprenticeship.
The Department for Education will publish a list of new qualifications that will replace the current suite of BTECs and other applied generals in July 2024, for schools and colleges to start delivering in September 2025.
In a letter last week to Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, 360 school and college leaders described the timescale as “simply not credible,” and urged her to push back the plans by at least a year.
The delay to four of September’s new T Levels prompted further questions over whether the timeline for defunding BTEC and other applied general qualifications would change too.
However, in a written parliamentary response this week, Keegan said: “Qualifications that overlap with the three T Levels moved back to 2024 were already due to have funding removed in 2025 and this will not change; there will still be dual running for one year.”
“We will confirm implications for qualifications that overlap with the catering T Level when we provide an update on the timetable for introduction,” she added.
David Hughes, the Association of Colleges chief, said the T Level delay “highlights the risks involved in implementing new qualifications”. He called for at least two full cohorts to complete each T Level before any decision on defunding other qualifications.
James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association said it “makes absolutely no sense” to press on with axing existing level 3s.
Last summer, when health and science T Level exams were regraded based on other assessments after they were deemed an inadequate measure of students’ performance, the cull of overlapping levels 3s was paused.
“It is astonishing that DfE has not at least taken the same approach with these wave 4 T Levels. The government’s dogmatic approach to level 3 reform will leave many young people without a viable pathway to higher education or employment,” Kewin said.