1. What is a T Level?

T Levels are new, two-year, technical study programmes, designed with employers to give young people the skills that industry needs. They will provide a mixture of:

  • Technical knowledge and skills specific to their chosen industry or occupation
  • An industry placement of at least 45 days in their chosen industry or occupation
  • Relevant maths, English and digital skills.

T Levels will become one of three major options for students to study at level 3, alongside apprenticeships for those who wish to study and train for a specific occupation ‘on the job’, and A levels for students who wish to continue academic education.

Within the 15 Occupational Maps set up by the Sainsbury Review, 11 have T Levels planned.

2. How do they work?

A T Level is split into three main sections:

  • Firstly, the Technical Qualification (TQ) is the main, classroom-based element. This is where students learn about their chosen sectors through a curriculum designed with the help of employers.
    • It is split between Core Components and Occupational Specialisms. For example, the Digital Pathway in 2020 will have Core Components based on Business Context, Digital Analysis, Digital Environments and more. Then, in the second year of the qualification, students will specialise in Digital Production, Design and Development.
  • The Industry Placement runs for 45 days overall and will give students practical insights into their sector.
  • English, maths & digital provision is also built into the classroom-based element of the T Level, meaning students will be given a solid foundation of transferable skills. By the end of the programme, students will need to have achieved L2 English and Maths (Grade 4).

3. Why do we need T Levels?

Within the post-16 market, there are over 13,000 vocational, technical and academic courses available.

Lord Sainsbury’s review in 2016 outlined the ways in which we can simplify and improve the choices available to young people. The Government chose to adopt these recommendations in full.

Reforming technical education will help meet the needs of our growing and rapidly changing economy, by raising the prestige of technical education so that it is sought-after by students, and so that employers recognise and value the skills and experience that it provides.

Together, T Levels and apprenticeships will provide a reformed, comprehensive and high-quality technical option.

4. When are they going to start?

T Levels are being rolled out from 2020. We have finalised our outline content for the first three T Levels. This forms what is known as Wave 1.

Three additional pathways, set for Wave 2 (2021), have also seen their outline content put out for consultation. This window closed on November 12th, and the Institute is now assessing the responses.  

5. What is the Institute’s Role?

The IFA will primarily be responsible for the TQ. This will involve the procurement and management of contracts with Authorising Organisations.

It will also involve the facilitation of T Level Panels. These are sets of industry experts who work with the Institute to design TQ content that is relevant and engaging. During this development phase, draft materials will be shared with providers.

Going forward, the Institute will assume full control of the TQ in February 2019.

6. Future Communications

The Institute will be assisting the Department for Education with their communication plans.

DfE have begun publicising T Levels (see the above video) and will soon be providing early materials to providers.

The Institute will be working with employers to increase exposure of T Levels.