What are T-levels and what are the grades worth?

time:2023-06-03 02:38:11source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:news

Exam season is under way for T-level students across England, with eight papers in total being sat between 9 May and 12 June.

New T-level courses have been introduced each academic year since 2020.

But a recent report has urged the government to pause plans to pull funding from other vocational courses, like BTecs, until T-levels are fully ready to replace them.

So what are T-levels, who are they meant for, and why were they introduced?

T-levels are aimed at 16 to 19-year-olds and focus on practical subjects rather than academic ones.

Each course lasts two years and is roughly equivalent to three A-levels.

They include a mixture of both classroom learning and on-the-job experience, with a work placement of at least 315 hours - or about nine weeks - which is roughly 20% of the course.

The idea is that T-levels cater for students who want an alternative to A-levels but do not wish to take an apprenticeship, which usually requires as much as 80% of a student's time to be spent with an employer.

T-level grades are based on a combination of exams, coursework and completion of the industry placement.

T-level students have a range of subjects to choose from, including accountancy, digital business, finance, healthcare and manufacturing.

Courses have been gradually rolled out each September since 2020 - a full list is available here.

A further six courses were due to roll out in September 2023 but three have been delayed until 2024:

A fourth, in catering, is being pushed back until at least 2025.

Instead, just two new T-levels will be introduced as planned - legal services, and agriculture, land management and production.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said new courses "will only be approved for delivery where we are sure they are good enough and can be delivered to a high standard".

In 2020 there were more than 12,000 vocational qualifications at all levels, offered by more than 150 awarding bodies, according to Ofqual, which oversees qualifications.

The Department for Education says T-levels were introduced to "streamline" post-16 education and make things less confusing for students and employers.

As T-levels are introduced, funding is being withdrawn for some other vocational qualifications in England.

When the recent delays were announced, Gillian Keegan said there would be "at least one year" between the introduction of a T-level and the removal of funding for similar qualifications. Under previous plans there would have been a two-year overlap.

Vocational courses available in the UK aside from T-levels include:

Students who successfully complete a T-level have a qualification which is equivalent to three A-levels.

They will get one of four grades, ranging from a distinction* to a pass. They receive a nationally-recognised certificate showing their overall grade and listing their experiences on the course.

A distinction* is worth 168 Ucas points - the same as three A*s at A-level - and a merit is equivalent to three Bs at A-level.

For those wanting to go on to higher education, qualifications are accepted by 134 universities and colleges.

In August last year, results were given out to the 1,029 first T-level students in England - with a 92% pass rate.

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