Education Secretary Damian Hinds

Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds today (24 May) published his letter to the Permanent Secretary for the Department for Education, confirming the ministerial direction on T Levels. It is in response to a previous letter from Jonathan Slater, requesting a ministerial direction on the implementation of T Levels

In response to this announcement, Julie Hyde, Director of CACHE, said:

“We fully support the introduction of T-Levels but are among organisations across the FE sector who have repeatedly expressed concerns about the short timelines for delivery. Without more time and thought, T-Levels could be next in a long line of unworkable qualifications – abandoned as quickly as they were introduced.

“Currently there is an alarming lack of detail about the content of the qualifications and how the new system will work in practice. Therefore it is impossible to see how today’s Year 9s could be taking T-Levels in two years’ time. We cannot afford to let these young people down.

“We know the Secretary of State told DfE staff this week that delivering T-Levels by 2020 is one of his top priorities. But we would urge him to reconsider his position and give civil servants and the sector more time to make a success of these important reforms.

“Otherwise, there is a real risk that the qualifications preparing young people to work in key sectors like childcare simply won’t be fit for purpose – with serious implications for employers, and ultimately for parents and their children.”  

Damian Hinds writes:

Our plan is for a measured implementation of T Levels. Teaching is to begin in September 2020 in the first three subjects (out of up to 25 eventually) in 30-50 colleges and other providers (out of a potential group of up to 1,000 providers, eventually including colleges, independent providers and other post-16 providers).

T Levels last for two years, so first completions would be in Summer 2022.

The subjects are:

  • One Construction pathway
  • One Digital pathway
  • Education & Childcare

I appreciate the advice I have received about the delivery timetable and have considered this in detail. I recognise your reasons for requesting a ministerial direction and how they align with your responsibilities as the Accounting Officer for DfE.

As you say I am able to draw on a wider range of considerations than the guidance to Accounting Officers, and I am convinced of the case to press ahead.

Alongside our apprenticeship reforms, T Levels are central to reforming technical and vocational education and training, to improve workforce skills and drive productivity growth. At the moment we have a confusing landscape of more than 13,000 qualifications at Level 3 and below, and productivity gaps of 36% against Germany and 29% against the US.

We must keep up momentum behind the Sainsbury reforms, of which T Levels were a key part; the Sainsbury report and Government response were published in July 2016, almost two years ago.

The need for progress is especially pressing in sectors such as Construction, given our key objectives on housing and infrastructure; and Digital, given the rate of change in global technology and applications.

None of the advice has indicated that teaching from 2020 cannot be achieved. Indeed we have discussed at length the robust plans we are putting in place, and the collaboration already underway with employers (on both subject matter and work placements), Colleges and other FE providers.

The delivery of T Levels in 2020 is focused in a measured way on a small number of T Levels in a small number of providers. I want us now to put all of our collective weight behind delivering these T Levels to begin in 2020.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds

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