What is a BTEC? The qualification with delayed results

There will be no BTEC results on Thursday. Credit: PA

Following the announcement that BTEC results for students will be delayed, as they are re-graded to bring them in line with the way this year's A-level and GCSE results are grades, we look at what the qualification is.

For starters, BTEC stands for the Business and Technology Education Council.

A BTEC gives a student a specialised work-related qualification, following a course which combines practical learning with subject and theory content.

More than 2,000 qualifications are available to study, covering 16 different employment sectors.

Within each BTEC there seven different levels, from entry up to Level 7, which is the equivalent to a postgraduate degree. 

BTEC results have been delayed. Credit: PA

Who can study a BTEC?

The various courses are aimed at young people who know which sector they desire to work in after leaving school, even if they are undecided on the particular role they wish to do.

It is possible to study a Level 2 or 3 BTEC as part of an academic programme or a wider learning process, such as an apprenticeship. 

Alternatively, one can study a standalone BTEC course.The 16 sectors are:

  • applied science

  • art and design

  • business

  • childcare

  • construction

  • engineering

  • media

  • health and social care

  • hospitality

  • ICT

  • land-based

  • performing arts

  • public services

  • sport

  • travel and tourism

How are BTECs broken down?

There are three main levels of study. UCAS describe those levels as follows:

  • BTEC Firsts are available from entry level to Level 2 (similar standard to GCSEs). These offer an introduction to work in a vocational sector

    Combined with other qualifications, these can enable you to go on to further study, to an apprenticeship, or into employment. 

  • BTEC Nationals are available from Level 3 (similar standard to A-levels). Many of these are well regarded by universities, further education colleges, and employers. A BTEC National qualification can lead to employment, continuing study, or professional development programmes.   

  • BTEC Apprenticeships are available at Levels 2 to 5 across more than 25 sectors. 

Courses can include written assessment. Credit: David Jones/PA

How does a BTEC work?

The qualification is not rigid, a BTEC can be studied alongside GCSE’s or A-Levels in schools or further education.

Normally, the courses are full-time, with study being carried out in school or college. 

A BTEC course is split into section, covering various areas of knowledge, skills, and understanding of the specific industry a person plans to go into.

Optional units are available to select, permitting a student to earn greater understanding of topics of interest.

Assessment is carried out in numerous ways, including written and practical examinations.

Certain assignments within a BTEC can be done as part of a group. 

What can you do next?

Upon successful completion of a BTEC course, students can then move into employment or continue studying in order to develop further. 

Certain BTEC National qualifications are recognised as technical certificates as part of an apprenticeship.

Some universities do not accept BTEC qualifications, so it is important to check if they do accrue UCAS points if a student is planning to progress to higher education or university.

Why have the results been delayed?

ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt explains why the results have been delayed

Exam board Pearson pulled the release of its BTEC results on the eve of their release over fears that students would be at a disadvantage compared to their contemporaries studying GCSEs and A-levels, leaving them at a disadvantage when applying to college, university, jobs and apprenticeships.

After the government U-turned on A-level and GCSE results in England earlier this week, saying that students' results would be based on their teacher assessed grades and the controversial Ofqual moderation system would be scrapped, the result was that pupils' marks would likely be higher.

However, Pearson was still basing its grades on the moderation system, leading to fears these students would be marked more harshly and therefore be at a disadvantage.

As a result, Pearson said at 5pm on Wednesday - ahead of results day on Thursday - it would be re-grading all its BTECs to bring them in line with A-levels and GCSEs, which are now being graded via school-based assessments.

It is not yet known when results will be released.