1. Background

Following concerns raised by providers about lower than expected results for T Levels in health & science in Summer 2022, Ofqual reviewed the assessment papers and determined that they did not secure a sufficiently valid or reliable measure of student performance.

As a consequence, NCFE issued revised results to affected students based on the best of their employer set project grade or overall core grade. NCFE also offered free autumn retakes and put in place additional support, including webinars, training sessions, and face to face support.

 

2. IfATE content review of health & science T Levels

Context

The outline content for the three health & science T Levels was created by T Level panels of employers, with the support of IfATE. Following a competitive procurement exercise, NCFE was contracted to develop and deliver these technical qualifications (TQs).

The TQs were approved by IfATE and accredited by Ofqual in December 2020 (for the health TQ and science TQ) and January 2021 (for the healthcare science TQ). The TQs were first delivered in September 2021.

In response to the concerns raised, IfATE conducted a review in autumn 2022 of the health and science T Level outline content and TQ specifications.

IfATE’s review included interviews with employer, provider and higher education institution (HEI) stakeholders, and an independent desk-based review of the outline content and TQ specifications. We are grateful to our stakeholders for their input. The outcomes of the review are summarised below.

 

Review findings

The review found that the overall volume of content within the technical qualification specifications was in line with expectations for a level 3 qualification of this size.

Although there were several examples where the technical qualification specification content diverged slightly from the original outline content, this was to add further context to the outline content and was not noted as a concern.

The review found that the breadth, depth and challenge of science content was greater in the T Levels compared to other technical qualifications at level 3, and in line with the minimum requirements for science A Level content.

However, it found that the level of science content in the health T Level was too high, specifically in relation to chemistry and physics, with some of this content challenging to contextualise and without opportunities for students to apply some of this knowledge during their T Level. This was not the case for the healthcare science T Level or science T Level. Some providers also noted that limited resources were available to support them to contextualise the content in their teaching.

A review of the content of the occupational specialisms, which included input from employers, identified a number of inconsistencies with the specification. These included inconsistent use of acronyms and some errors in relation to mathematical, scientific and legislative content.

 

Next steps

To address the issues identified, IfATE is:

  • Taking forward work to separate the core for the health T Level, reviewing the relevance of all science content.
  • In the longer-term, considering whether additional care content should be included.
  • Continuing to oversee NCFE’s delivery of T Levels and ensuring that the providers receive the necessary support to teach these T Levels.

 

A number of other themes were raised by the stakeholders interviewed. These themes included industry placements, the T Level marketing campaign and the availability of teaching resources. IfATE is working with DfE and Ofqual to address this feedback.