Schools and Colleges Update

Department for Education written statement – made at on 14 December 2023.

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Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan The Secretary of State for Education

In October 2023 we announced our intention to create a new qualification framework: the Advanced British Standard (ABS). Today, we are announcing a 14-week consultation on this new qualification framework.

There are several key principles underpinning the development of the ABS including ending the artificial divide between academic and technical study, building on the best of A levels and T Levels, extending the study of English and Maths to all students, increasing the number of hours students spend with a teacher and following the evidence on studying a breadth of subjects. This will bring us closer in line with what other high-performing countries offer their students and support the growth of our economy.

The consultation document sets out more detail on how the ABS will work, but there are substantial questions to be worked through. In particular, my department is seeking views on:

  • The aims and purposes of the Advanced British Standard qualification framework. We are inviting views on proposals on what the ABS is trying to achieve.
  • How the ABS should be designed to achieve our aims: a model that has the highest aspirations for all. We are inviting views on proposals for what ABS study programmes will look like for different students and at different levels, for example an occupational route that will support students to move straight into work and more hours at level 2 to help students progress. We are also seeking views on how we can best design a system that provides all students with the right programme to achieve their full potential.
  • How assessment and awarding should be designed. We are seeking initial views on how best to design the assessment, grading and awarding of the ABS so it is clear for students, and gives employers and further/higher education providers the information they need.
  • How changes will affect 16-19 providers and how we ensure we are maximising the benefits for students and the wider system. We are seeking views on the challenges, opportunities and risks presented by the ABS, and on the action needed to ensure the quality of and confidence in existing qualifications while developing the ABS.

This consultation is an important part of the reform process as it is an early opportunity for all those with an interest in the ABS to provide their views. We intend to consider carefully all responses received to inform further policy development, and a White Paper in the summer 2024. The consultation on the ABS will be available today on GOV.UK and will close on 20th March 2024.