New City College Group Principal and CEO Gerry McDonald has responded strongly to the government’s plan to phase out many BTEC qualifications and replace them with the new T Levels by 2023, saying the reforms are being pushed through too fast.
Gerry is quoted in a story published by the Financial Times, expressing the view that the deadline for phasing in the new qualifications is ‘ridiculous’.
Along with other prominent education leaders he welcomes T Levels in principle because they will benefit some students, but he believes the government are forcing through the reforms in a confrontational and politically-driven manner.
He says discarding the existing BTEC vocational qualifications, which many students at NCC study, would leave thousands of young people unable to continue their training and added that the government was in danger of losing public support for the reforms.
“It’s a ridiculous deadline. I have 4,000 students on non T Level qualifications – like Sport and Health & Social Care – and now they will need to do a T Level qualification in two years’ time that hasn’t even been written,” he said.
The Association of Colleges have also pointed out that disadvantaged students will be badly affected by the changes which would leave them with either limited or no routes to progress into work.
This is because the qualifications likely to be withdrawn by the government are often studied by higher proportions of black and minority ethnic students, those with lower prior attainment, and SEND students.
Ofqual, in its response to the qualifications review back in January, said some learners, including those with SEND, ‘may find T Levels less well-suited, too big or not sufficiently flexible for their individual study needs’.
The government says the plan aims to simplify the choice for students after GCSEs with two routes – either A Levels for academic students or T Levels for those following a technical or vocational path.
T Levels are two-year courses equivalent to 3 A levels which have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work or further training.
Gerry’s view is that although T Levels will be a welcome addition, phased in properly over time, there should be a third qualification route remaining for those students not suited to T Levels.
For the full Financial Times article, click here