T-levels

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

What recent progress his Department has made on the introduction of T-levels.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Secretary of State for Education

We are making very good progress. We are working closely with providers to deliver the first three T-levels from 2020 and have launched a £38 million capital fund to support that initial roll-out.

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

I recently tabled a question and got an answer back saying there had been a 30% cut in adult education, particularly in relation to T-levels, as part of a wider effort to increase the numbers in adult education. What will the Secretary of State do about that, bearing in mind that Hereward College in Coventry, which teaches people with disabilities, and Coventry College badly need funding? Can he give us a positive answer on that?

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Secretary of State for Education

The hon. Gentleman is a great advocate for further education in general, and for his colleges in Coventry in particular, and for the important role that adult education plays in social mobility and improving life chances. On T-levels, we are initially focused on getting the roll-out done, but we will look at adult provision in the future, and of course there was also a big boost in the Budget for the national retraining scheme.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee

Alongside T-levels, will my right hon. Friend take measures to enforce the Baker clause and to support the embedding of skills and careers in the curriculum for all ages?

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Secretary of State for Education

I will and I have. I was grateful for the opportunity to discuss some of these matters the other day with my right hon. Friend’s Select Committee. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills has written to large multi-academy trusts and will be writing to local authorities to remind them of the importance of the so-called Baker clause in making sure that children and young people have information about all the options available to them. I also agree about the importance of embedding careers information deep in the curriculum.

Photo of James Frith James Frith Labour, Bury North

Only about 10% of 16 to 18-year-olds on a full-time level 3 course are currently studying a technical qualification. The proposed investment in T-levels will not benefit the vast majority of sixth-form students in schools or colleges. FE and sixth-form funding has fallen by one fifth since 2010. Do not all young people deserve to have FE properly funded, irrespective of the qualifications they choose to study?

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Secretary of State for Education

Yes, clearly further education—and indeed all 16-to-19 provision—has to be properly funded, but I do anticipate that more young people will do T-level qualifications in the future, because they will be very high-quality qualifications, with those extra hours, the maths, the English, the digital content, and that high-quality industry placement.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart Conservative, Brentwood and Ongar

Over the years, I have heard a lot of employers complain that vocational courses do not adequately prepare young people for the workplace. Will the Secretary of State commit to including business in the development of T-levels so that they can provide that service?

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Secretary of State for Education

I will. In fact, about 200 employers have already been involved, in one way or another, in their development. Business is at the heart of this major upgrade to our technical and vocational education, including T-levels.

Photo of Gareth Snell Gareth Snell Labour/Co-operative, Stoke-on-Trent Central

Obviously T-levels are still a couple of years away, and colleges are expecting funding now. What can the Secretary of State do to assure me that when T-levels do arrive, colleges such as Stoke-on-Trent sixth-form college, which will be delivering them, will not have to use some of that additional money to cross-subsidise underfunded courses in other colleges? Is not the best way to stop that money being misused simply to raise the rate for everyone else?

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Secretary of State for Education

The money that the Treasury has committed to T-levels is new money to finance more hours for young people studying these subjects. I think that that is incredibly important, but, as my hon. Friend says, there are other people studying for other qualifications, in Stoke and elsewhere, and they too must be properly resourced.

Several hon. Members:

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Photo of David Evennett David Evennett Conservative, Bexleyheath and Crayford

I warmly welcome the introduction of T-levels, but what action has been taken to upskill the teachers and lecturers who will be delivering them? That process is vital to the success of the project.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Secretary of State for Education

My right hon. Friend is absolutely correct. We must engage in a number of preparations, such as setting up relationships with businesses for the industrial placements and also, as my right hon. Friend says, relationships with people working in our sector. We created the T-level professional development offer for precisely that purpose.