Pandemic-induced online learning was ‘greatest barrier’ for T Level and transition students

Learner survey shows Covid-19 pandemic-related restrictions impacted delivery of T Levels

Learner survey shows Covid-19 pandemic-related restrictions impacted delivery of T Levels

Reduced in-person teaching derived from pandemic restrictions was the biggest barrier for a large proportion of learners undergoing the T Level Transition Programme (TLTP) and T Levels, a new survey has revealed.

While the first cohort of learners on the TLTP and T Levels 2020/21 programme reported a generally positive experience, the limit to in-person teaching was linked to lower satisfaction in learners.

The findings come from a new technical education learner survey, published today, where 2,207 learners from the 2020/21 TLTP and T Levels programmes were surveyed for their views on the scheme.

In their first year, the two programmes were delivered by 43 providers across England in three technical routes: Education and Childcare, Construction and Digital.  

One of the major findings from the survey was 37 per cent of T Levels learners said not receiving enough in-person teaching was “the greatest barrier” to their studies. These learners received a varying blend of in-person and online teaching due to pandemic restrictions.

Learners on education and childcare, and construction courses found the lack of in-person teaching a bigger barrier (41 per cent and 38 per cent respectively) than those in digital courses (31 per cent).

Those doing the T Level transition programme reported similar views, with 32 per cent saying it was the biggest drawback to learning. 

Over one quarter (29 per cent) of T Level learners had not experienced any barriers to learning.

Most learners who had undertaken work experience or an industry placement were satisfied with their experience, despite this cohort coming mainly from education and childcare courses, and the childcare sector being one of the first sectors to open after the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

“Covid restrictions were likely to have impacted on learners’ access to industry placements – a crucial element of the technical programmes – and may partly explain some differences between subjects in perceived outcomes from courses,” the report said.

Aside from pandemic-related challenges, the report added that the difficulty of the T Levels courses had been challenging for most learners. “Those taught mainly online were more likely to find it ‘very challenging’,” it added.

However, learners with low prior academic attainment and special educational needs found it more challenging than their peers.

“The relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions are likely to lead to more learners having the opportunity to complete work experience and industrial placements and learners being taught more of their programme in-person,” concluded the report authors NatCen Social Research and National Foundation for Educational Research.

“This is likely to lead firstly to higher satisfaction with the work experience and industry placement elements of the programmes compared to the 2020 to 2021 academic year and, secondly, to fewer learners reporting remote teaching being a barrier to their learning,” they added.

Further study

The survey results found over half (53%) of T Level learners intended to continue their studies following the technical programme, with nearly one-third planning to go to university. A larger proportion (40%) of learners in Education and Childcare compared to learners in Digital (26%) and Construction (17%) identified going to university as their next step.

Meanwhile over a third (37%) of TLTP learners said at the start of the programme that they planned to continue to a T Level at the end of the course. By the end of the course, around a third (34%) had decided not to do a T Level, leaving just under a third (29%) who were not sure whether they would or not.

Digital learners were more likely to be intending to move to a T Level than other learners (48% compared to 36% of Construction and 29% of Education and Childcare learners).

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