Ofsted publishes final report on T Levels and the T Level Foundation Year

Ofsted have published the final report on their review of the quality of the first T Level courses and the T Level Foundation Year (formerly the T Level Transition Programme, (TLTP) and referred to as such throughout the report).

T Levels are new and challenging qualifications and we recognise and appreciate the significant work that providers have put in to deliver these successfully, particularly in the early years of the roll out.

The independent review was commissioned by the Department for Education to gather evidence about the quality of the rollout. As the report reflects, when delivered effectively, T Levels offer a fantastic vocational pathway for learners. We want every T Level student to receive an outstanding vocational education, so we welcome Ofsted’s suggestions for further improvements. Some of the areas highlighted for improvement have already been resolved with some still underway.

We encourage existing and future providers to read the report and consider how the findings could be applied to the delivery of their own T Level offer, to ensure they are maximising the benefits and opportunities that T Levels can bring.



Key findings from the report include;

  • The most effective providers adapt T Levels and TLTP after extensive engagement with employers and as part of a well-considered curriculum planning process.
  • T Levels provide an excellent opportunity to combine high-quality theoretical learning with excellent practical skill development.
  • The best TLTPs include a relevant technical or vocational qualification and a range of activities, including work placements, that prepare students to move on to an appropriate T Level pathway.
  • On the most effective TLTPs, students benefit from valuable work experience opportunities that are tailored to their development needs and the learning aims of their programmes. Such placements enhance the TLTP curriculum and are an extremely positive and popular aspect of courses.
  • There is a clear link between high-quality information, advice and guidance and the retention of students on courses. Those who benefitted from a programme of guidance events that allowed them to talk to staff and experience ‘taster’ sessions had a thorough understanding of the course structure and content.
  • Most T Level students enjoy their industry placements and gain valuable insights about what it is really like to work in the sectors they are studying. In the best placements students gain new knowledge and skills which benefit their learning and development. They grow in confidence and develop essential skills for work such as team working, problem solving and communication skills.
  • Teachers who are subject experts and have industry experience link the theoretical content of courses to real-life experience and examples very effectively.
  • Most providers have high-quality physical resources to support T Levels and the TLTP. Capital funding has been used effectively to invest in industry standard resources.

However, we recognise that these are new qualifications and some challenges remain, which we are working on;

  • Staff in providers are concerned that the T Level brand is not well known, and Ofsted reports that not all students receive accurate information about T Level courses. As a new product, it will take time to raise awareness. We are working to address this through the “Get the Jump” Government advertising campaign to highlight young people’s choices post 16. We are working to ensure that both parents and teenagers are aware of the options available to them as they consider their future careers. We will be targeting parents in our Get the Jump campaign for the first time this summer. This will complement the Gatsby campaign targeting parents, carers, and guardians to highlight the benefits of T Levels. We are also stepping up our work with the Careers and Enterprise Company to ensure that schools careers leaders understand T Levels, and how they can support progression into important local industries.
  • Finding suitable, tailored, placements can be a barrier to increasing the number of T Level places and some employers are poorly informed about the content and structure of T Levels. As part of our overarching employer engagement strategy to ensure a strong pipeline of industry placements, we are continuing to actively engage with all employer types through the Department’s own employer engagement teams. We are working with key intermediaries to develop innovative ways to stimulate the SME market. The T Level Ambassador Network is also enabling employers to engage with others in their industries on T Levels and placements, via events and webinars. This network will continue to grow and amplify the peer-to-peer voice of employers. We also recognise that administrative costs can be a barrier for employers taking on placement students and have put in place an employer support fund for AY 23-24 to help with this.
  • Ofsted has recommended providers collaborate to improve the quality and effectiveness of T Levels. We recognise the benefits of supporting providers to learn from each other and share best practice, and are working to facilitate this. We have updated our provider support contract to offer opportunities for networking, mentoring and buddying, alongside the existing opportunities for collaboration space provided by T Level Professional Development (TLPD) Programmes’ Networks. We are continuing to support providers and the workforce by adapting the TLPD Programme and the provider support offer in light of recommendations and feedback. Since the launch of the TLPD Programme in 2019, over 18,000 individuals in FE providers and schools have benefited from TLPD with over 34,000 CPD activities taking place.
  • In addition, the T Level Support for Schools and Colleges website offers a range of support for providers to guide them through the implementation of T Levels, including information on planning, funding, delivery of the classroom aspects of T Levels and case studies. There is specific course information for each T Level, resources for the planning and delivery of industry placements and support on assessment and results. The website provides up to date news stories and promotes upcoming events from the DfE, AoC and ETF. We are continually reviewing the support offer to ensure providers can easily access everything they need to deliver T Levels successfully.
  • Teachers expressed concern about the high volume of content in T Level courses. We recognise this and are continuing to work closely with IfATE and Ofqual to ensure the content and assessment of T Levels are manageable for students and providers while meeting employer skills needs. IfATE have already reviewed the size and complexity of all T Levels to confirm the content is appropriate, including removing some science content in the Health T Level, with revised specifications published for teaching from September 2023. IfATE is also reviewing teaching and assessment resource requirements ahead of the second generation of T Levels.
  • T Levels are not always accepted as a valid entry qualification onto HE. The Department have actively been working with the HE sector to address this. 136 HE providers have so far indicated that they will accept T Levels for entry onto at least one course. We have proactively engaged with HE providers to ensure they understand T Levels, including publishing resources on what T Levels are and why they are suitable for HE. We will continue to engage the sector through a number of forums to encourage uptake of T Level students.   
  • Finally, we have announced that we are changing the name of the T Level Transition Programme to the T Level Foundation Year. This seeks to strengthen its relationship with T Levels and signal clearly that this is the first step on a 3-year path to achieving a T Level for those who need it. We published a revised Framework for Delivery, which came into effect from September 2022, with strengthened expectations informed by evidence from the first year of delivery, to ensure more consistency across providers. We also published new National Technical Outcomes (NTOs) to prepare students for each T Level route.  We have consulted and set out next steps on using the NTOs as the basis of future qualifications for the programme, which will be available from 2026. As this is a new programme, accountability measures have not yet been determined. We expect to set out more detail on the measures and the timetable for their introduction in due course.

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