So it’s GCSE results day – but where are BTEC results?

25 Aug 2022, 14:00

As thousands of students celebrate results today, another cohort feel forgotten – and not for the first time, writes Alice Barnard

There is one key question since last week’s results. Where is the data on BTEC results?

The full suite of BTEC results have still not been released and we can only imagine the uncertainty and worry that students and teachers must be feeling as they anxiously await their results.

Although this has been reassured as only a ‘small percentage of students’, these students still matter and deserve equal opportunity to their peers.

However, we have heard little reassurance from government or a timeline outlining when the issue will be resolved.

Why does it feel, time and again that some of our vocational students are either forgotten or provided with a second class service?

This isn’t the first time that vocational students have felt forgotten.

Looking back to January 2021, the government announced that summer exams would be scrapped, although January exams would continue as normal.

They failed to remember that thousands of students studying BTECs and other vocational and technical qualifications were due to sit their exams within a matter of days.

So, the sector had to step up to remind government of these learners.

The government’s current plan to scrap valuable level 3 qualifications (including applied general qualifications such as BTECs) undermines yet again the integral role that vocational qualifications play.

Voices across the sector have called this decision a ‘hammer blow for society’ and an ‘act of vandalism’.

This potential scrapping will impact thousands of learners.

Around 34 per cent of the 921,046 16- to 18-year-olds studying a level 3 qualification in England are pursuing at least one applied general – some 313,163 students.

BTECs are also engines of social mobility – a quarter of students now enter university with BTEC qualifications and they are likelier to be from disadvantaged backgrounds.

They can also be taken alongside A levels, and scrapping them will leave many students without a viable pathway at age 16.

So why are we constantly having to remind government of the value of broader vocational qualifications?

It is not necessary to replace valuable level 3 options to make T Levels a success.

We continue to work alongside the Protect Student Choice campaign to urge government not to scrap these important qualifications.

Progression into work, apprenticeships and higher education

The next few weeks will open an exciting new chapter in student’s lives, and this shouldn’t just be dominated by higher education as the golden route to success.

Students can choose to progress directly into the world of work or explore other level 3, 4 and 5 higher technical qualifications.

Routes such as apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships offer work-based alternatives to develop work-ready skills, while also earning on the job and should be celebrated equally.  

Opportunity for reform

Finally, exams alone fail to tell employers or universities about a student’s breadth of skills and abilities

After two years of Covid, we should not simply digress back.

Instead let’s develop a system that is fairer, and reduces the high-stakes burden for all learners – whether they study A levels, T Levels or other applied general qualifications such as BTECs.

This should include more multi-modal assessment options and a better way of evidencing skills and experiences via solutions such as a learner profile.

Meanwhile, in relation to T Levels (the government’s ‘flagship’ new technical equivalent to A levels) it will be interesting to see where these learners choose to go next.

We await detailed information on the progression routes of learners and whether they were offered their places of choice.

So, a huge congratulations to all BTEC, T Level and A level students! Despite the disruptions over the last few years, our learners have demonstrated considerable resilience.

We must also thank our fantastic teaching staff who worked tirelessly to support their learning and welfare

But at the same time there is broad and growing consensus across the sector that our assessment system in England needs reform.

We now urge the government to join us in taking action.

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