Low-key launch for T Levels for adults pilot

A pilot in T Levels for adults is taking place across 11 colleges over two years

A pilot in T Levels for adults is taking place across 11 colleges over two years

30 Sep 2022, 10:00

More from this author

Exclusive

A two-year trial to deliver T Levels for adults was quietly launched this month, as education chiefs look to test the flagship qualifications on 150 older learners ahead of a potential 2025 rollout. 

The Department for Education previously said that its new technical education courses for 16- to 19-year-olds would eventually become available to adults, but ministers hadn’t put a timeframe on that. 

It has now emerged that 11 colleges have been selected to deliver a pilot, starting from this month, with around 150 learners expected in the first cohort. 

The launch has been decidedly subdued, with no external communications from the government on the scheme to date, and only a few details emerging following enquiries from FE Week

What the department has confirmed is that 11 colleges are part of the pilot, although not all of those may have started delivering the courses as they may be on flexible delivery models. 

The pilot covers wave one and two pathways in the digital, construction, education, and health and science routes. While total numbers have not yet been confirmed, the DfE said it did not expect any more than 150 learners in total. 

The DfE said ministers will be given evidence at the end of the trial in 2024 that will inform any decision on whether to roll the courses out nationally to adults from September 2025. However, that decision is “likely to be subject to Treasury approval”. 

The DfE said it cannot name the providers in the pilot because it has not released its own external communications yet. 

FE Week found reference to delivering the courses for adults on the websites of six colleges: Exeter, Barnsley, Derby, East Sussex, TEC Partnership and Barking and Dagenham College. All have been approached for comment. 

The DfE has also refused to clarify funding arrangements, saying only that while funding is different to that for 16- to 19-year-olds, the funding levels were comparable. 

It is understood that the funding has not come through the adult education budget but from a separate pot. 

A DfE spokesperson said: “The pilot is deliberately small scale and numbers of participating providers and learners will be small. 

“We hope to learn valuable lessons from the pilot regarding how adults can be supported in accessing T Levels, should we decide to offer T Levels to adults in the future.” 

T Levels were launched in September 2020 as technical equivalents to A-levels, but originally intended for those aged 16 to 19. 

Students aged 19 to 25 who have an education health and care plan can currently access any T Level available for 16 to 19s. 

Offering T Levels to adults was a pledge made by Gavin Williamson in October 2020 during his time as education secretary. A date had never been set however for when that may emerge. 

A consultation by the DfE in 2021 on post-16 level 3 qualifications asked the sector whether T Levels should be offered to adults. It found that 71 per cent agreed the qualifications should be offered to learners aged 19 and above, with respondents in favour saying it would provide progression opportunities, upskilling options and specialist training for those changing careers. 

Exeter College, which taught 330 T Level students aged 16 to 18 in 2021/22, is one of the colleges selected for the adult trial. The college this month began delivering the digital production, design and development T Level to adults on a part-time basis only. 

That was a decision made to enable flexible learning so adults could continue working alongside their studies. Learning is timetabled over two days a week there. 

Despite the quiet launch of the pilot nationally, Exeter said recruitment of adult learners was not an issue, with 18 adults applying for its 15 places. 

Lucinda Sanders, director of higher education and adult learning, said the college had formed a dedicated digital and data department specifically for adult learners, as it is one of the biggest skills gaps in the south west. It meant it could market the T Level alongside existing offers such as digital skills bootcamps and a free level 2 digital technologies course it had already been offering. 

“Under the branding of this digital and data department is really where we got people. We have had some level 2s progress on to it, and some of our ex-bootcamp learners who are now working in industry and choosing to work part time because they want to come back and do the T Level,” Sanders said. 

“We have full employment in Exeter, so whereas the bootcamp might be really good for someone wanting to upskill, the T Level is for somebody who wants to retrain and get into that sector. Someone who might not have the skills to get on an apprenticeship in digital but really wants to get into the industry, but at the same time needs to be able to work.” 

Sanders said the line-of-sight to employment “seems to be a big hook for adults”, adding that those who had enrolled were already enthusiastic about the course and its links to industry through the mandatory 45-day work placement. 

The college has confirmed it is teaching its adults in separate classes to its 16- to 18-year-olds and will be providing data returns to the DfE on starts, retention figures, progress marks and completion rates. 

Barnsley College was among the few to publicly announce it was delivering adult T Levels from this month in childcare, construction and digital. 

It said that adult learners will complete a “skill-scan” as part of their enrolment. That is to analyse their existing skills and experience, to determine the length of their study. It said that flexible options could be available to help students fit in the course alongside their existing commitments. 

Latest education roles from

A Level Biology Teacher

A Level Biology Teacher

Barnsley College

Electrical Installation Trainer

Electrical Installation Trainer

Barnsley College

Sessional Science Lab Technician

Sessional Science Lab Technician

Merton College

Sessional Lecturer – Plumbing

Sessional Lecturer – Plumbing

South Thames College

Lecturer – Business (x 1 Banking Specialism & x 1 Accounting/Business Finance Specialism)

Lecturer – Business (x 1 Banking Specialism & x 1 Accounting/Business Finance Specialism)

Kingston College

Apprentice Development Leader

Apprentice Development Leader

GP Strategies

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

Why we’re backing our UK skills ‘Olympians’ (and why you should too)

This August, teams from over 200 nations will gather to compete in the sticky heat of the Paris summer...

Advertorial
Sponsored post

Is your organisation prepared for a major incident?

We live in an unpredictable world where an unforeseen incident or environmental event could disrupt a Further Education (FE)...

Advertorial
Sponsored post

A new chapter in education protection!

Gallagher is a specialist in the Further Education sector, working with over 75% of Further Education colleges in the...

Advertorial
Sponsored post

Pearson is planting the seed for sustainability talent with new HTQ

Sustainability is rapidly becoming a key organisational goal for many businesses looking to make a difference in society, the...

Advertorial

More from this theme

Adult education, Devolution, Politics

Local elections: What mayoral hopefuls have to say on skills

Elections are set to take place on May 2

Josh Mellor
Adult education

First Holex CEO revealed

Caroline McDonald will assume the position of the membership body’s first chief executive from August

Anviksha Patel
Adult education

Holex on the hunt for first CEO

New chief will work alongside policy director Susan Pember

Shane Chowen
Adult education, Devolution

WEA threatens legal action against combined authority amid grant funding row

A decision to refuse to grant fund the WEA puts 70 jobs at risk

Shane Chowen

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *