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Providers committed to making T levels a success, but challenges remain says Ofsted report

The Business Magazine article image for: Providers committed to making T levels a success, but challenges remain says Ofsted report
27 October 2022

A new Ofsted report evaluating the quality of the new T-level courses has found that the first providers to offer these new qualifications have faced some challenges.

The review also finds that the T Level Transition Programme (TLTP) is not always resulting in learners progressing to a T level as intended.

T-levels are new, government-backed, career focused qualifications for 16- to 19-year olds. They’re equivalent to three A-levels and British businesses helped design the courses.
T-levels are offered by many schools and colleges across England. There are 16 different T-levels to choose from, with more being made available from September 2023.
Each two-year course has been designed with employers from multiple sectors and combines classroom study with a 45-day industry placement to prepare your child for the world of work, or further study like a higher level apprenticeship or university.

The interim report was commissioned by the Department for Education and is the first stage in a two-year evaluation of T-level courses. It draws on evidence from visits to 24 providers, 10 of which also offered the transition programme, between December 2021 and April 2022.

Overall, Ofsted found that learners were appreciative of the quality of teaching on their T-level course. However, not all learners felt prepared for how much work they had to do. Effective industry placements gave learners broad, high-quality and appropriate experiences that helped them to make informed decisions about their future career path, but many learners experienced delays in going on placements.

Work experience is a fundamental component of the transition programme that gives learners the opportunity to gain the skills needed to progress to a T-level course.

In some cases, providers failed to help learners secure meaningful work experience relevant to their course, which resulted in learners sourcing their placements independently.

The review also found that many teachers did not receive comprehensive training and some found teaching the new curriculum challenging. Providers did not always have access to the resources they needed from awarding bodies in good time.

The recruitment and retention of staff with sufficient knowledge and experience were also a challenge, due to sector shortages and the effects of the pandemic. The more effective T-level curriculums involved frequent collaboration between education providers and employers.

Inspectors found that, although teaching on the transition programme was generally of a high standard, most learners appeared unlikely to progress on to a T-level course on completion.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: "It’s clear that T-level courses are giving learners career-building pathways. The right balance of theory and practical elements helps learners gain the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to enter the workforce. However, we have also identified a number of concerns that need to be addressed.

"I am looking forward to seeing the progress providers have made at our next visits in 2023, and to see the additional courses added into the scheme in the next few years."


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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