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"No qualifications which overlap with T Levels should be defunded until T Levels are fully tried and tested"

14th October 2022

In response to today's announcement by the Department of Education, confirming the defunding of a number of qualifications, Association of Colleges, the national voice for England's college sector, has issued the below statement.

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges, said:

"A skilled workforce, trained in areas of economic importance, is vital to turn the economy around. T Levels have real potential, and feedback from the first group of students achieving a T Level this year showed that potential is already being realised. But despite that, we still believe they are never going to be suitable, accessible and achievable for everybody - there is a heavy assessment by written exams and industry placements will not be accessible everywhere. They also require more hours which rules out part-time work, essential to many students given the current cost of living crisis.

That’s why there still needs to be a range of qualifications, with different learning and assessment approaches so that students and employers can pick the right ones for them. Colleges will be looking closely at today’s announcement, and we will continue to work with DfE to make sure that every student has the opportunity to learn and train.

It’s good to see that the appeals were properly considered in a number of cases, and that the numbers being defunded is modest. But that should not distract from the fundamental issue here, that no qualifications which overlap with T Levels should be defunded until T Levels are fully tried and tested and we understand more about who can truly access and achieve in them.

The suspension of the decision on the health related qualifications is a relief, but that delay simply extends the uncertainty around their future. Faith in the health and science T Level will take some time to re-build, so it would have been better to delay the decision for at least 3 years whilst the reformed health and science T Level is started (in September 2023) and students have graduated from it (summer of 2025)."