Theresa May hails 'gold standard' new T Levels - as top official warns over timing

Posted On: 
27th May 2018

Theresa May has vowed to deliver "the most significant" shake-up of technical education in decades, as the Government set out fresh detail of its plans for new 'T level' courses.

The Prime Minister said T Levels would be "the most significant reform to advanced technical education in 70 years".

The new qualifications are intended to be on a par with A levels, and the first batch will cover construction, digital skills, education and childcare.

Course content will be drawn up alongside employers in a bid to ensure T Levels are directly relevant to the workplace.

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The first wave will be available from September 2020, with a further 22 in subjects including finance and engineering phased in the following year.

Unveiling the first batch of 52 providers for the technical qualifications, the Prime Minister said: "Everyone should be able to have access to an education that suits them, but we know that for those that don’t choose to go to university, the routes into further technical and vocational training can be hard to navigate.

"That’s why we’re making the most significant reform to advanced technical education in 70 years to ensure young people have gold standard qualifications open to them whichever route they choose."

But today's announcement comes after a warning from Education Secretary Damian Hinds' top civil servant over the timetable for putting the new qualifications in place.

In a letter to Mr Hinds, Jonathan Slater, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education, said it would 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".

Labour seized on the warning from the DfE's top official, dismissing today's announcement as "little more than meaningless spin".

"The decision to push ahead against the advice of officials is a desperate attempt to mask the Government's failure to properly prepare for T-Levels," said Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner.

She added: "World class technical education cannot simply be delivered by press release, while avoiding the impact of years of cuts on the sector."