Government plans push to promote T Levels next year

The Government's controversial policy to introduce T Levels - a vocational equivalent to A Levels - will be promoted in a new campaign next year, after delays to the qualification's introduction and concerns raised by senior civil servants.

The Department for Education is using an animated film to promote T levels
The Department for Education is using an animated film to promote T levels

The first T Levels – in construction, digital, and education and childcare – were originally timetabled to come in next year. Now they will not begin until 2020. The Department for Education has delayed the full implementation of the new qualification until after 2022.

Education minister Lord Agnew told MPs this month that a comms campaign will be launched next year, "ensuring that parents, teachers, students and the wider public knows about T Levels and where they fit among other choices after GCSEs".

He added: "We are communicating with a range of key audiences through several different channels and events to increase awareness of T Levels. We recently launched a short animated video introducing T Levels, which has been circulated on social media."

The film, which describes T Levels as "the qualification that will allow your career to take off" and "include a three-month industry placement where you can learn the skills you need for your dream job", has had several thousand views since it was released last month.

Lord Agnew commented that the Government’s National Apprenticeship Service has had its remit expanded to include "raising awareness and promoting the benefits of T Levels and industry placements".

He said: "The communications campaign will increase each year, taking account of student numbers and key decision-making times. We are working closely with the 2020 providers to develop the campaign, which will include resources to support regional communications."

This comes just months after the Government, responding to the results of a consultation on the new qualification, said: "Respondents wanted us to be clearer about the purpose of T Levels and their positioning within the education system."

It added that T Levels will need "extensive marketing" and committed to "increase the level and pace of our communication, as we move towards delivery, to respond to respondents’ need for information, engage them in the design process and help them prepare for launch".

The consultation response stated: "Some respondents, including the CBI, raised concerns about the capacity of the system to respond to this pace of roll-out. We recognise these concerns. Our priority is to deliver high quality programmes and therefore we have decided to extend the full roll-out of T Levels beyond 2022."

And in May this year Jonathan Slater, DfE permanent secretary, raised a formal objection to the plans to introduce the first T levels in 2020 - asking the education secretary, Damian Hinds, to delay the start by another year.

Slater said: "It will clearly be very challenging to ensure that the first three T-levels are ready to be taught from 2020 and beyond to a consistently high standard." He requested a "ministerial direction" to go ahead with the 2020 deadline.

Hinds responded by instructing the senior official to proceed with the introduction of the qualification in 2020.

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