NEWS: Altain to attend Westminster conference on implementing the T-Level programme

Implementing the T level Programme – content, regulation and assessment

Monday 29th April, London 

This timely conference will examine the next steps for the implementation of the T-Level programme, as stakeholders prepare for the first wave of T-Levels due to be taught from 2020 and with Government currently consulting on funding arrangements for the delivery of T-Levels from 2020 onwards.

It also follows the announcement from the Education Secretary of the T-Levels Action Plan which confirmed the next wave of seven T-Levels that will be taught from 2021 – health, healthcare science, science, onsite construction, building services engineering, digital support and services and digital business services.

Delegates will discuss the design of the curricula, following the publication of the final content of the first wave of qualifications from the Institute for Apprenticeships in Summer 2018. The seminar follows the recent announcement by the Secretary of State of £38m capital funding expected to be available from Spring 2019 for the first T-Level providers.

The conference will be an opportunity to discuss key themes emerging from Ofqual’s recently published final consultation on their regulatory approach to the new qualifications – and follows the initial consultation which confirmed that the regulator will allow students to take exams more than once throughout the year, allowing them to resit without delay.

Attendees will also consider the assessment and regulation format more widely, including the potential impact of moving to a single awarding body per qualification following the announcement by the Department for Education of the awarding bodies that will develop, deliver and award the first three qualifications – alongside concerns surrounding the potential complexity of the new grading system and the potential impact of a further set of exams in the summer period, and issues around different assessment measures across various subjects.

We expect discussion on the compulsory work placement element of the T-Level, including issues of employer engagement, with a DfE report finding evidence of tension between the willingness and capability of employers to offer T-Level industry placements alongside already existing apprenticeships, and financial concerns for some employers.

Further sessions assess how to prepare the teaching workforce for delivery alongside the teaching of other qualifications, and whether changes are needed to initial teacher training in preparation for T-Levels – as well as what is needed to ensure that T-Levels deliver on their objective parity of esteem with A-Levels.

 

NEWS: New Westminster T- level conference dates announced

The Westminster education forum has just announced details of their next conference in the T- level series here with an overview below. Altains’s report and analysis of the previous event can be read here.

Implementing the T-Level programme – content, regulation and assessment

Morning, Monday, 29th April 2019

This timely seminar will examine the next steps for the implementation of the T-Level programme with the Education and Childcare, Digital, and Construction T-Levels due to be taught from 2020 for the first time.

Delegates will discuss the key implementation challenges, looking at the design of the curricula with the expected publication by the Institute for Apprenticeships of the final content of the first three subjects expected later in the autumn.

The conference will be an opportunity to discuss key themes emerging from Ofqual’s recently published final consultation on their regulatory approach to the new qualifications – and follows the initial consultation which confirmed that the regulator will allow students to take exams more than once throughout the year, allowing them to resit without delay.

The meeting will also consider the assessment and regulation format more widely, including the potential impact of moving to a single awarding body per qualification as the Department for Education launches a competition inviting bids to win the right to develop, deliver and award the first three qualifications – alongside concerns surrounding the potential complexity of the new grading system and the potential impact of a further set of exams in the summer period.

We expect discussion on the compulsory work placement element of the T-Level, including issues of employer engagement, with a recent DfE report finding evidence of tension between the willingness and capability of employers to offer T-Level industry placements alongside already existing apprenticeships, and financial concerns for some employers

Further sessions assess how to prepare the teaching workforce for delivery alongside the teaching of other qualifications, and whether changes are needed to initial teacher training in preparation for T-Levels – as well as what is needed to ensure that T-Levels deliver on their objective parity of esteem with A-Levels.

 

 

 

 

 

T-levels: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Last week Altain joined around 150 delegates at a Westminster forum conference in London to discuss next steps for T-levels with the added benefit of Lord Baker in the chair for part of the session. While there is universal support for the principle of the T-levels programme views on the approach varied markedly.

For those unable to make it we have captured some of the critical points debated during the session below:

The Good

In addition to in principle support for the programme speakers and delegates were positive about the following:

  • Work placement: A feature that has researched very well with students and their parents and hence a potential point of differentiation versus alternatives. However, the challenge of delivering on the promise is substantial, requiring the support of businesses including SMEs, not just large employers.
  • Routes and Pathways: This presentation of opportunities recognizes the difference in requirements of young people transitioning to the workplace from adult education and offers a sound basis for representing Technical education as an alternative to the traditional A level/University route.
  • Funding: A promise of £500m pa once T- levels are entirely on stream is popular with colleges

The Bad

Hurdles to be overcome discussed included:

  • Tight time frames: Reform of high stakes qualifications is a serious endeavor and a sense that there is a need for prioritization and less of a moving feast on crucial aspects such as assessment.
  • CEIAG and a Demand side gap: The conversation was heavily skewed to supply side considerations. Attracting students of the right caliber is essential, and this is made more challenging by an under-resourced ‘Careers strategy’ and academic bias in school’s curriculum with limited opportunities for students to experience technical options. Addressing these issues will benefit from more concerted demand side action and integration of perspectives of a broader range of employers as well as students and their parents.
  • Looking forward as well as learning from the past: As Lord Baker reminded us the ‘Time-honored tradition’ is to lead with reform of the qualification changing the rest of the system to fit. Arguably a leading contributory factor to lack of success most recently with the 14 to 19 Diploma. Hence a need for fresh thinking as well as learning from the past.

The Ugly

Arguably less attractive aspects of the current system that prompted proposed policy changes included:

  • Sainsbury review: Key amongst the concerns expressed about the existing situation was the complex qualifications landscape and potential for a ‘race to the bottom.’
  • ‘Single provider’: The above concerns precipitated a proposed change from a market-based model to a single contract for each pathway. A move that concerns many in the awarding sector and remains contested
  • Untidy Institutional arrangements: An observation that there is potential for misaligned activities given the range of institutions required to pull together for the success of T levels – prompting the suggestion by Lord Baker of the need for an honest broker.

A Market Dimension 

It is worth reiterating that there is good support for the principles behind T levels however in the light of prior experiences it is equally valid for some to question if T levels might struggle to deliver on goals and aspirations. A key point in T-levels favour is that unlike its predecessors there is a stronger sense of latent market demand for alternatives due to skills gaps, Brexit and arguably an oversupply of graduates.

However, this also begs the question about what needs to be done to meet the needs of the here and now while T-levels build capacity. This immediate need gives credence to suggestions for not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Your view?

Are you supportive of the principle of T levels? How pivotal is work placement? What do you see as the main opportunities and threats? Please share your thoughts below.