The next step in the government’s overhaul of post-16 qualifications has begun, following its initial move last year to remove funding from qualifications that overlap with T Levels and A levels, and only fund qualifications at level 3 and below that are high quality and lead to good outcomes for students.
The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has now confirmed that the government is pressing ahead with what it calls ‘vital reforms’, setting out detailed measures that it claims will make sure all students no matter where they live and whatever course they choose can be confident it will set them on the path to success.
The new measures, which are subject to a 12 week consultation process, include:
- Putting employers at the heart of designing and developing all level 3 technical qualifications – this is already happening with apprenticeships, T Levels and new higher technical qualifications, but the government is going further so students and employers can be sure they are gaining the skills they need to thrive
- Removing funding for qualifications that overlap with A levels and T Levels – simplifying choices for young people – while offering funding for high quality alternatives to A levels, that support students to progress onto specialist Higher Education courses, such as performing arts and sports
- Ensuring only qualifications that meet a high quality bar and help students progress into work or further study are approved for funding
- Making more qualifications available to adults including new T Levels so more people can upskill or retrain
Williamson said: “Now more than ever we must redouble our efforts to support as many people as possible to access high quality education and training, so they can get ahead and so employers can tap into the talented workforce they need as we build back better from coronavirus.
“The measures we have announced today will ensure that whether a student opts to study A levels, a T Level or any other qualification, they can be confident that it will be high quality and will set them on a clear path to a job, further education or training.”
Analysis published by the Department for Education has highlighted a confusing landscape of over 12,000 courses on offer to young people at level 3 and below, with multiple qualifications in the same subject areas available – many of which are poor quality and offer little value to students or employers.
As part of the work to boost access to high quality level 3 qualifications, in July 2019 the government took steps to:
- remove funding for more than 160 duplicate qualifications from August 2020, ensuring that students take the newer, more rigorous versions
- stop any new qualification at level 3 and below from getting approval for funding from 2020, to avoid adding to the already confusing and complicated system of over 12,000 qualifications already available at these levels
It says this latest action builds on the work already underway to transform technical and vocational education, including the roll out of new T Levels, working with employers to create more high quality apprenticeship opportunities, establishing a system of higher technical education and a network of Institutes of Technology, backed by up to £290 million.
This autumn the Education Secretary will publish a White Paper setting out plans to build a world-class further education system – one that unlocks potential, levels up skills and boosts opportunities for people across the country.