The first T Level results mark a milestone in level 3 qualification reform

19 Aug 2022, 18:44

Yesterday’s T Level results show the new qualification is off to a fine start, writes Jennifer Coupland, CEO of the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education

I would like to say a massive congratulations to all the trailblazing students who found out how they did with their T Levels yesterday.

It took guts to invest their futures in something completely new but it’s fantastic to think of them being repaid with seriously enhanced career prospects. 

They have also of course paved the way for thousands of other people to follow in their footsteps.

We started intentionally small in terms of numbers taking the first T Levels launched in September 2020.

We now know that students have achieved a 92% pass rate and most who applied to university were accepted. T Levels are also proving to be a really good way into apprenticeships and skilled work. The thing that students we’ve spoken to have been most fired up about has been the substantial industry placements, typically lasting 45 days. It’s what makes T Levels stand out and has in many cases led directly to job offers.

T Levels must be a brilliant springboard onto even bigger and better things and we’ve worked with employers and industry experts to develop new progression profiles as a guide to where they can lead for the next generation of students. 

Feedback on these new qualifications has also been really encouraging from the FE sector – which I was delighted to read about in FE Week.

The next step will of course be to scale everything up and make sure there is good coverage of T levels across the country and that they are accessible for people from all backgrounds.

As of October 2021, there were around 100 schools and colleges providers offering T Levels. It’s widening out to many more from September 2022 which will obviously make a big difference.

Make no mistake, we want to get to a point where equal numbers of young people take T Levels as A Levels. I know that’s a long way off, but we have made a fine start and it can be done.

With regards to defunding of alternatives, the reform process isn’t about targeting a particular type of qualification, it is about making sure all the qualifications available are really high quality and match up to employers’ skills needs. That’s best for students because it will ensure they are taught skills that are relevant and truly needed by employers. 

Only a small number of qualifications that overlap with T Levels are being retired at present and IfATE will introduce a new employer-led approval system for upholding the quality of technical qualifications in future.

A provisional list of 160 level 3 qualifications up for retirement was published in May. This is a small proportion of the qualifications available at this level – so does not represent the cull feared in some quarters. What it does amount to is recognition of the vital importance of T Levels and setting a higher employer-led quality bar for all qualifications which will benefit everyone.

So, the first T Level results day has been a massive positive, but it is just the beginning and must point the way to even better things ahead. 

Let’s capitalise together on all the goodwill and positivity around what they have delivered to date, the dedication and hard work of providers, and the wonderful young people who made up that first cohort. We can and will ensure that the wider rollout of the programme is a big success.

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One comment

  1. Rob Green

    What a great spin by Jennifer Coupland
    What are the achievement rates according to Fe week 6 per cent didn’t do work placement….how on earth can they be a pass?
    Also how many actually did 45 day placement physically and virtually
    If you take the 6 per cent off and assume the 1300 quoted is reasonable this gives around 74 per cent which is weak given the hand picked nature.
    Come on ifate come clean on dropouts including switches to other courses