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  1. ITV Report

New T Levels available to thousands of students this autumn

For the first time this autumn, new qualifications will be on offer for tens of thousands of teenagers leaving school after finishing their GCSEs.

The Government's new flagship T Levels will have a compulsory three month industry placement and final exams like A Levels, offering a mix of classroom learning and 'on-the-job' training.

The new qualifications, where 'T' stands for 'technical', will be the equivalent of three academic A Levels.

One of the T Levels that students at Fareham College will be able to take from September is Education and Childcare.

I think they're a great idea."

"Yes, hands on experience - do it."

"The placement idea is great."

– Chelsea Seddon & Eloise Black, Students
Education and Childcare is one of the T Levels on offer. Credit: ITV News Meridian

East Sussex College in Eastbourne is among those offering the new technical qualifications from September.

If you are academically minded but want to excel in a technical career then these are going to equip you better perhaps than existing qualifications and the industry placement really gives you the opportunity to test the job before you progress into your careers or on to higher education."

– Dan Shelley, East Sussex College

Some colleges are already piloting the new work placement idea with students who are studying Games Design.

"We're given real life scenarios and learning stuff that is actually useful. We're getting our skills ready and matured to the standard that the company needs.

"As well as software and coding skills I'm also developing employability skills like being punctual, more organised, and managing my time more."

– Students

"I think the rigour in T Levels will be different to the existing offer of vocational qualifications because they are going to have the end point assessment or terminal assessment like an A Level does so the qualification will be assessing the learning that has happened over that two year period."

– Andrew Kaye, Principal & Chief Executive, Fareham College

But a recent report from the National Foundation for Educational Research highlighted a series of concerns over T Levels.

It said there are worries over attracting and retaining enough teachers in certain industry related subjects and concerns that some universities have not said whether or not they will accept them as a route on to degree courses.

There has also been criticism about the speed at which the qualifications are being introduced.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

Eastleigh College backs T Levels but for now they are sticking with existing vocational and technical courses.

Paul Cox from Eastleigh College said: "We were concerned about staff having information too late in the academic year to plan for really excellent teaching from the start of next year."

"We understand that colleges across the country will be getting the full specifications in April/May which considering first teaching is September of 2020 that doesn't leave much time for planning and for preparation."

Many are hopeful that once T Levels are widely established they will become a success but only with continued investment, backing and time to bed in.