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T-levels are coming!

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WISE Board member, Averil Macdonald OBE looks at the new technical qualifications called T-levels.

5 July 2017

No student is able to leave education or training at age 16 any more! But, of course, A – levels don’t suit everyone and only a few are lucky enough to secure an Advanced Apprenticeship.

Students will soon have TWO distinct choices at age 16: an academic route or a technical route. The academic route is well-known: A – levels designed to prepare students for university courses. The new technical route is very new and will offer a choice between college-based T-Levels or work-based Apprenticeships in 15 sector ‘routes’ that are shown in the table above. Those with an (A) are Apprenticeship only, the other 12 are available either as Apprenticeships or as T – levels.

T – levels are the same study time and same standard as A – levels but are employment facing with both theory, project work and 3 months total work experience. Each T – level will be worth the same UCAS points as an A – level and can be used either as entry qualifications for university or as an entry into Higher Apprenticeships or Degree Apprenticeships.

A student with good GCSE grades in science and maths might be tempted by A – levels in Physics, Maths and Chemistry before going on to university to study engineering.

However that same student might choose T – level Engineering alongside A – level Maths. The T – level engineering syllabus will be very like the A – level physics syllabus for mechanics, materials, heat, electricity, etc BUT, after that, students of A – level physics would go on to particle physics and astronomy while T – level engineering students will be able to choose options in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, polymers, electronics etc as well as undertaking a total of 3 months equivalent of work placement. This T – level route is an ideal preparation for Higher Apprenticeships or Degree Apprenticeships but is also valid entry qualifications into a standard university degree in engineering.

Some students won’t yet be ready to take on a full technical programme.They will take a ‘transition year’ during which they retake GCSE maths and/or English. They could also do a level 2 Apprenticeship in a craft based area. There will also be a bridging programme for students who want to move between the academic and technical routes.

So, sixth formers will have far more choice than has been available before. Employers need to understand these changes so that they can be sure they are recruiting the best candidates.

Further reading: Justine Greening: Britain needs a skills revolution | On Thursday 6 July, In a keynote speech to business leaders at the at the British Chambers of Commerce Education summit, Education Secretary Justine Greening set out her mission to spark the skills revolution needed to help Britain make a success of leaving the European Union.

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