T Level students will be able to sit their core exams and employer-set project in two different assessment windows from September 2023, under new government plans.
Currently students must undertake their core exams, an employer-set project and an occupational specialism assessment to complete a two-year T Level. The first time students sit their core exams, they must do so in the same assessment period as their employer set project, for instance in the summer of their first year, but for retakes for those elements can be done separately.
Ofqual has today launched a consultation on T Level assessments in which it proposes awarding organisations allow students flexibility to sit their core exams and employer set projects separately. For example, students could sit one element in the summer and the other in the autumn.
It said that decision was taken by ministers following feedback from providers, and plans to introduce the new proposals for new starters from September 2023.
Cath Sezen, interim director of education policy at the Association of Colleges, said the move was “sensible” as it “allows greater flexibility for colleges to manage teaching and learning to suit the needs of students and the varied demands of the T Level”.
She added: “In practice, most colleges deliver core in the first year and occupational specialism in the second. Greater flexibility in when students can sit the core assessments makes it possible to deliver some of the occupational specialism material alongside the core in the first year if that works better for the students and the college.
“It also allows students more time to prepare for the core assessment.”
Ofqual’s consultation document said the move “will offer more flexibility for education and training providers and for students, as providers will be able to tailor the sequencing of assessments to their course, and reduce the assessment burden on students”.
The consultation confirmed that students would need to complete all the individual elements of that component at once, for example core exams where there are more than one paper to sit would need to be completed in the same assessment period.
According to Ofqual, if the plans are introduced it will effectively require each of the awarding bodies to offer core assessments twice in each academic year, although this already happens in practice because of re-sits.
Changes will not affect the way core assessments are graded, Ofqual said, which will remain a grade from A* to E.
The document said the current rules requiring the core exams and employer set project to be sat in the same assessment window “reflected the DfE policy that awarding organisations should not break the core into smaller separately assessed and graded units or sub-components,” which was “intended to help support the maintenance of standards”.
But the consultation continued that Ofqual believes the proposed changes “do not materially increase any current risks in relation to the maintenance of standards”.
The proposed change is the latest tweak to the flagship qualifications, which are designed to be the technical equivalents of A-levels.
Earlier this month education secretary Gillian Keegan pushed back the start of four T Levels due to launch this September amid fears they were not yet ready to roll out.
Last summer, problems with the health and science T Level core exams meant students had to be regraded entirely on their employer set project.
And earlier this year the government changed the work placement rules for T Levels by allowing up to a fifth of hours to be delivered remotely in certain subjects.
Ofqual’s latest consultation is open until 11.45pm on May 15.