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T Levels - the new qualification you need to know about!

Published: Oct 16, 2018 5 min read


In May, the Department for Education took another step closer to launching a new ‘gold standard’ technical qualification. Here is everything you need to know about T Levels.

T Levels, STEM Learning magazine article

From 2020, schoolchildren will have another option open to them when they finish their GCSEs. T Levels promise to give young people a high-quality, technical alternative to A levels.

Naming the first 50 colleges and providers where young people will be able to study the first T Levels, the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, described it as “a once in a lifetime opportunity to reform technical education in this country so we can rival the world’s best performing systems”.

“For too long young people have not had a genuine choice about their future from the age of 16. Whilst A levels provide a world-class academic qualification, many technical education courses are undervalued by employers and don’t always provide students with the skills they need to secure a good job – that has to change,” he said.

Course content is being created by expert panels of employers to make sure young people have the knowledge and skills needed. The course will also include three-month compulsory industry placements that will give young people the experience and wider skills they need to be ready for the world of work.

T Levels are just one part of a wider programme of work to transform technical education in this country to give people genuine world-class choices when they are deciding on an academic or technical route.

Schools and teachers will play an important role in making sure that young people and their parents – particularly those who are already interested in STEM subjects – understand the choices that will soon be available to them and the exciting opportunities they will bring.  


T Level fact file


What is a T Level?

T Levels are a brand new qualification that young people will be able to study after their GCSEs – this will be a technical equivalent to an A level. Like an A level, they are classroom based but students will benefit from a high quality industrial placement to put their skills into practice. These technical studies and industrial placements will give learners the best of both worlds – a broad learning experience and a real taste of the world of work.


When are they being introduced?

The very first T Level subjects will be taught from September 2020 and then more subjects will be rolled out over subsequent years.


What subjects are on offer?

The first subjects that can be studied in 2020 will be digital, construction and education, and childcare. But by 2023, all subjects will be fully rolled out and include agriculture and animal care, finance, accounting, catering, and manufacturing and engineering.


Who can study them?

Young people entering Year 10 in September 2018 will be the first to be able to choose from the initial limited range of T Levels – they will then begin their studies after their GCSEs in Year 11.


Where will T Levels be taught?

50 colleges across the country will be offering the first T Levels. The number of colleges offering T Levels will increase as the rollout progresses.


Will they be as recognisable as an A level or apprenticeship?

Employers – including major STEM organisations such as IBM, the BBC, Fujitsu and GlaxoSmithKline – are involved in designing what will be in these qualifications. By having these high profile organisations designing the content, we know students will be learning the key skills that employers are looking for.


How long does a T Level take?

T Levels will be two-year full-time programmes, roughly equivalent in size to three A levels.


What can students do after their T Level?

Students who have completed a T Level will have a range of options available to them, including being ready for the world of work, but also having the chance to continue technical study at a higher level, either at university or going on to a higher level apprenticeship.


What does this mean for existing technical qualifications?

We will review the other existing technical qualifications on offer to make sure the system is clear and easy to understand – for young people, parents and employers. Some other qualifications may remain if they have a clear purpose, are high enough quality and support good outcomes for students.


What qualifications are needed to be able to study a T Level?

Colleges and other providers will set their own entry requirements, but as T Levels will be the technical equivalent to A levels, it is likely that students will need good GCSE results to study a T Level. For those not ready to start on a T Level programme straight away, a transition period will be offered to ensure they are well prepared before embarking on their chosen T Level.