Department for Education written question – answered at on 20 November 2023.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Protect Student Choice campaign Desperate measures: data and the reform of Level 3 qualifications, published in September, which found that at least 155,000 students could be left without a suitable study programme from 2026, given the planned reduction in Applied General Qualifications and slow growth of T levels.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The post-16 qualification reforms are based on three principles: simplifying a complex system difficult for students and employers to navigate, improving progression outcomes, and creating a new, world-class technical offer that meets the needs of employers. These changes are designed to create a ladder of opportunity that young people of all backgrounds can climb.

Despite the report’s premise that removing an existing qualification means students are left without a suitable alternative, students will have a range of options to choose at level 3. This will include large qualifications that can be studied as whole programmes such as T Levels, large Alternative Academic Qualifications (for example in sport or the performing arts), or a newly created large Technical Occupational Entry qualification in a non-T Level route (such as Travel and Tourism). Students will also be able to choose to study A levels, or a mixed study programme comprising of A levels and a small Alternative Academic Qualification or small technical qualifications.

Over 16,000 students have studied all or part of a T Level since their launch in 2020, and the department expects many more young people to benefit in the years to come. We are supporting providers to deliver the additional teaching hours, industry placements and high-quality learning environments needed to make T Levels a success, by increasing the national funding rates for T Levels by 10% for 2023/4 and making £450 million capital funding available alongside a £12 million Employer Support Fund. The department is helping colleges to deliver the additional teaching hours, industry placements and high-quality learning environments needed to make T Levels a success with over £500 million of funding.

For students who aspire to study at level 3 but need additional time and support, the department will fund technical and academic progression qualifications which offer a subject specific focus alongside their study of English and maths. This includes T Level Foundation Qualifications that would be taken in the T Level Foundation Year. The department will also fund large technical occupational entry qualifications at level 2, which will offer broad route-specific content in addition to the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to become occupationally competent and enter the workforce.

The department’s impact assessment for the Level 3 second stage consultation response can be found in the attachment. The assessment estimated that 4% of 16-19 year olds currently studying level 3, may not be able to directly access it in the future.

The department is confident that the new system includes provision for all students. There are currently a wide range of approaches to entry criteria for T Levels amongst colleges, and T Levels will embrace a broader range of young people as they become universally available, with more providers offering the T Level Foundation Year.

Review of post 16 qualifications (pdf, 290.2KB)

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