09 November 2017

The government is pressing ahead with the launch of T-level courses and has confirmed that a course in construction will be among the first to be offered to students from 2020/21, two years later than originally planned.

First announced in the Spring 2017 budget, T-levels are to be offered as an alternative to A-levels for students of a more practical than academic inclination.
Now the government has confirmed, via its T-levels action plan, that the first three T-level programmes will be in construction, digital technology, and education & childcare. The programme will expand to take on subjects such as finance and accounting, legal, engineering and manufacturing, with a full set of courses, across 15 sectors of the economy, live by 2022. In the Autumn budget, it was announced FE colleges have been given £20m more to prepare for the new qualifications.

The content of the two-year courses will be guided by panels of industry professionals and employers, and will include a work placement of at least three months' duration, to put what's learnt in the classroom into real-world context.

The construction panel will be chaired by Julian Weightman, owner of Border Craft Group. Mr Weightman also serves on the Federation of Master Builders board and brings almost 20 years experience in the sector to the table including work on the bricklayer and plasterer trailblazer group. He runs a small building firm based in Hexham, in the north east of England. Other construction-related T-level panels will be chaired by Dayle Bayliss of Dayle Bayliss Associates and David Matthews of the Institute of Domestic Heating & Environmental Engineering.

T-levels will increase the life-chances of many thousands of young people, while at the same time helping to ensure British industry remains competitive

Lord David Sainsbury

The new action plan includes details of a consultation later this year and will cover a range of issues from the implications of this policy for current provision, to design principles for the T-levels themselves. This will be the first opportunity for those who weren't part of the initial independent panel, to have their say on the proposals.

The government is hoping that the new qualifications are as rigourous and respected as A-levels are today and, Lord David Sainsbury, chairman of the Independent Panel on Technical Education, whose report led to the reforms is hopeful: “T-levels will increase the life-chances of many thousands of young people, while at the same time helping to ensure British industry remains competitive.”

Education secretary Justine Greening said: “We are transforming technical education in this country, developing our homegrown talent so that our young people have the world-class skills and knowledge that employers need.

"As we prepare to leave the EU, it is more important than ever that we create an outstanding further education and skills system, giving all young people the opportunity to fulfil their potential and deliver a better future for our country."