Helping Higher Education Institutions understand T Levels

This webinar will be helpful to providers to help them understand what questions Higher Education Institutions have regarding T Levels.  This webinar was delivered on 17 May 2021.

Video length: 56 minutes 17 seconds

Video transcript

Hi everyone. Thanks so much for joining I'm Amelia Brennan. I work in Policy Development for T Levels. And I also have a specific focus on um supporting the higher education sector with T Levels. I've got quite a few colleagues on the call as well that it's it's worth mentioning.

So really helpfully, we've got Jane Sheehan from Suffolk New College, who's going to do a short presentation about what it's like being a provider delivering T Levels at the kind of middle bit of this session. And also, I haven't had a chance to look completely through the attendee list but we should have representation from all three of the T Level awarding organisations on the webinar today, and should you have any kind of specific questions about each one of the specifications. Great!

So, what we're gonna talk to you today really is a bit about what T Levels are, what a kind of structure and design of the programme is, and and how that would make them in some regards suitable for HE.

I, we recently ran a session on T Levels at the latest UCAS conference but I think the content of today's sessions will be quite a lot more detailed. I think Sophie has mentioned this in the chat already but if you do have any questions we will be running a Q&A session at the end or if they come to mind while we're talking, please just pop them in the chat bar and we'll get around to them when we get to our Q&A session. Great! So, if we can go into, if we can go to the next slide, Sophie, if that's okay.

Great! So, what are T Levels? I know we kind of asked about how everyone's understanding of T Levels where and before we started this session. So I'm going to do a bit of an introduction about what T Levels are. So sorry if you’ve very familiar with this content already, but essentially T Levels are a full-time level three technical programme for 16 to 19 year-olds at the moment. They will prepare students for progression into apprenticeships, further study, all the skills, employment. The course is a mix of classroom learning which is about 80 per cent of the time and on the job experience 20 per cent of the time, which is realised through an industry placement of a minimum of 50, 45 days. The programme was developed in collaboration with employers to make sure that the content really met the needs of the industry and prepares students for work, in terms of relation to HE.
Specifically, T Levels will attract two UCAS points in line with three A levels and those UCAS points are attached to their overall T Level grade which they achieve at the end of their course. So, if we can hop onto the next slide please, Sophie?

So, why have we introduced T Levels?

Lord Sainsbury's Independent Panel on Technical Education a couple of years ago presented a report to the department about providing a clear choice for students in all post-16 education pathways, and we accepted all the proposals in Lord Sainsbury's report. and we delivered our post-16 skills plan, which basically attested to our aim to develop high quality options in technical pathways in a simplified qualifications landscape, to make sure that all of the options available for students at 16 support good progression outcomes.

We really want T Levels to be part of a long-term solution that makes sure that Tech Ed is much more closely aligned to employers’ needs, make sure that we're giving them a skilled workforce and and preparing these students for for employment of the future.

So, who are T Levels for, what kind of students would they attract? So they are for students that are aged 16 to 19, who want to study a subject that will prepare them for skilled employment or further study in a related technical field. They offer a kind of broad course, course content initially through the core and then the students specialise later in their occupational specialism. There are probably suit learners who want a more kind of practical employer-led programme rather than a solely classroom-based programme that you get with A levels but without the commitment of a much kind of more narrower focus that you would get with an apprenticeship.  So what have we been establishing progression options for from T Levels? So, we really see there as kind of being three. And, one of them is skilled employment they've been developed by employers and are kind of ideal for students who want to gain knowledge and skills that they need for a job, and we also believe that the depth of knowledge and understanding gained through the T Level will make them suitable for students who want to progress into higher level technical studies. So this could be at level four, five or six so, including degrees of courses in subjects that are relevant to their chosen T Level . And then, the third option will be for students who want to progress into an apprenticeship if they wish to kind of continue learning in a practical based programme while still in employment.

So, I want to talk about about the context of T Levels because I think this is quite important when we're thinking about um the technical education reforms and the landscape at level three wider than just these reforms. So, T Levels are not the only thing that we introduced in September 2020, we also brought in the T Level transition programme which is for students who are not quite ready to start T Level but definitely have the potential to progress onto one. The implementation of the transition programme is phased in the same way that the T Level programme implementation is phased. And it will definitely ramp up as we introduce more T Levels and expand our T Level providers. Outside of T Levels, we're also running a kind of comp, comprehensive long-term reform to technical education. So the overall aim of this reform is to not add new qualifications to a complex system but to simplify the system that we already have. So simplifying the qualifications landscape at level three and below means that we want to ensure that every qualification is necessary, has a distinct purpose, is high quality and truly supports progressions to positive outcomes. And our post-16 qualifications review is currently realising this ambition.

So, the first stage of the qualifications review was a consultation which looked at the broad principles of the review and asked for views on the proposal to withdraw funding from qualifications that overlap with T Levels and A Levels. And the second stage of the consultation sort of views on the proposals and for groups of qualifications that should continue to be funded alongside A Levels and T Levels, and that closed well not recently anymore, but a couple of months ago and we're currently working on the government response to that. So, that's kind of that what's happening in the level three space, in the level four, five space we also are running reforms to higher technical education and this is about making sure that quals at that level are also high quality. I think that we are anticipating that the new HTQs will be available from September 2022, and that will start with qualifications in the digital route. And then the final kind of piece of the puzzle of the context of T Levels is our recently published Skills for Jobs white paper which just confirms the kind of expansion of our existing reforms to increase the number of people studying high quality technical education, and affirms um the continued rollout of T Levels um and preparing students for entry into skilled employment or higher levels of technical study, including apprenticeships. 

So, back to T Levels in a bit more detail, so T Levels are a programme. They are not just a qualification and sometimes that can make it slightly tricky to to understand the design. So I'm going to kind of go through that roughly. The T Level is made up of a technical qualification and then other component parts and within the technical qualification or it's sometimes referred to as TQ and you have a core, which is about up to half of the qualification and covers knowledge and understanding of theories and concepts. And then you also have the occupational specialism which is a minimum of half the qualification. It's usually more and it brings you as close to full occupational competence as possible, and then are kind of the Math English and digital competencies that you need for those areas are integrated into into both of those components of the qualification. And then, within the programme, you also need to complete an industry placement which is a minimum of 315 hours, works to about three months, and this has to be with an employer in the workplace and the purpose of that is to kind of apply the skills that you've been developing within your TQ in a real life context.

In terms of other relevant components that you'll need to complete to achieve your T Level, there's a minimum requirement that you achieve a Maths and English qualification at level two and this can be functional skills, it can be GCSE and there are also kind of amended requirements for students with special educational needs. And then finally, some T Levels um will have additional mandatory requirements. So, these could be kind of qualifications or entry into professional body membership. These requirements are kind of dependent on which T Level you take. So in terms of course hours, we anticipate that the qualification will be about 900 to 1400 guided learning hours and then the course overall will be about 1800 like learning hours but this differs through one of our T Levels in Education and Early Years and just because the size of that industry placement is larger than the other T Levels.

So, T Level assessment, um I think this is kind of where we're going to get into a bit of the detail about how some of the kind of policy decisions we made and why assessment looks the way it does. So, what does a T Level assessment look like? For the core, assessment is an externally set written exam or could be multiple exams and an employer set project. Both sets of exams assess the student's knowledge and understanding and application of context, theories and principles relating to the core content in the specification. And within these exams as well, there is an opportunity to reset within the course, and it's but it is kind of dependent on um when the providers choose and to get their students into assessment. So, a bit about the written exams. They assess root and pathway knowledge to unseen examination which samples the content from across the core. So, this means that breadth can be assessed appropriate level three depth um whilst limiting the overall duration of assessment, so we don't have to make kind of a really long assessment um to attest to a student's knowledge across all of the outcomes for the core. The written exam will also kind of provide students with those kind of necessary exam and revision skills. The employer set project part is a more substantial project-based assessment and it's set by employers through the awarding organisation and this is kind of looking at developing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. And the project will draw upon knowledge and understanding from acro across the core content synoptically, and this will also be structured to allow learners to effectively respond to a brief.

Grades within the core are compensatory so that essentially means that if a student doesn't score well on examinations in their written part but does really well on the project or vice versa and they can still achieve a reasonable score overall, although it's probably worth mentioning that the top grades will require strong performance on both elements. The occupational specialism is an externally assessed project and much more long term. It's assessed via a single extended project to ensure that the student can evidence all skills required by performance outcomes, and demonstrate a level of competence that will enable them to enter employment in their technical field or further study.  This project-based assessment is essentially broken down into a series of tasks, over a significantly longer period than the core assessment. Students will typically respond to a scenario and develop a project and the project will be assessed based on the application of skills and the performance outcomes for the specialisms.

The assessment is also synoptic and allowing for a single synoptic assessment ensures that students are able to demonstrate that they have accumulated knowledge and a depth of understanding across all of the performance outcomes. So, if we go to the next slide…

So, a bit about the grading structure. The core is graded A*-E and the reason for this is to ensure that um we can recognise the full range of potential level 3 attainment by using a wider range of scale. So there's differentiation at the top scale and but students will require an E grade to pass the T Level overall. The occupational specialism is graded Pass, Merit and Distinction, and that pass grade value has significant meaning and as it confers um that a student is able to enter a job um at level three and the level of proficiency deemed by employers is kind of sufficient to enter work. This level of performance is likely to be typically higher than traditional um vocational qualification pass grades.

The grading for the final T Level will be Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction Star. And this is calculated by the weighting of the core versus the occupational specialism. The T Level certificates will show um their overall T Level grade and their grade for the core and occupational specialisms. But obviously it's kind of HE, you can set entry criteria based on the overall T Level grade and minimum grades for the other parts of the technical qualification if you so wish. 

What makes T Levels different from existing technical and vocational qualifications? So, firstly, occupational standards. T Levels are based on a common set of occupational standards with apprenticeships and have a clear purpose and vocational education. I think that this is quite different from previous attempts at reforms such as this 14-19 diplomas which tried to chart the kind of middle course between vocational and academic qualifications. And what we're saying is T Levels is they are really rigorous and they do attest to a student's ability to enter a job at level three. But also the rigour is coming from the way that the assessment um and the specifications are structured.

So again, so if we're moving on to an assessment approach T Levels combine an assessment approach which does not traditionally be part of VTQs with a qualification content that's designed by employers so that we can be sure it's what the industry needs and it covers depth and knowledge and skills to a level three standard, and that really ensures that there's a rigorous option for students who want to choose a technical route.
Standards of attainment. So, the standards of attainment-needed capacity level are validated each year by employer panels to ensure that attainment has a continued currency in the sector, and the minimum standard and make sure that the minimum standards are sufficient to enter skilled employment or as a basis for further technical study.

T Level is also linear, not unitised. So to achieve employer standards, learners will need to be able to select and draw knowledge and skills together independently to achieve outcomes and and they'll need to combine high-level thinking and practical skills. This means T Levels are not unitised but learners are taught content throughout their course that they have to put into practice, and this makes knowledge that they gain truly embedded.

And finally, knowledge plus understanding. So, because they have to practice the application of knowledge before their summative assessments, students have a true opportunity to develop understanding about how to draw together their knowledge to achieve different outcomes in different contexts.

So, curriculum design. I want to talk a bit about this because actually it's quite different to other um traditional programmes at level three. So providers are really in the lead as to how they can sequence the curriculum. They have much more flexibility you can consider how bits of the programme will fit together well and how to structure it to assure that students are on the right course for them. So the core in the occupational specialism exams can be taken at chosen points throughout the two years. So a likely programme design will be teaching the core of the first year and the allow and allowing the students some time to pick their occupational assess…, occupational specialism and using things like the work taster days that they can do through their industry placement to make sure they're really in the kind of right area for them. And then running that assessment of the core at the end of the first year um and bringing um the students on their industry placement as you begin to teach the occupational specialism over the start of second year and assessing the specialism at the end of the second year. But that that's kind of a rough course design and it won't be exactly how all providers will be willing to deliver the T Level but it it just gives you a kind of flavour of the flexibility and the structure of the programme. So how are T Levels going?
So T Levels began in September with three courses: Education and  Early Years, Digital Production Design and Development and Design Surveying and Planning for Construction, and we have 44 schools and colleges that began delivering in September um and um they've done incredibly well. They were really committed to beginning the programme even with the context of COVID.

We've had such a positive response not just from providers but also the students that are doing um the programme and they're really engaged and really exciting and really enjoying kind of the practical elements of T Level learning and enjoying their courses. We are obviously still monitoring the effects of COVID on delivery and we had to make some decisions about how assessment was going to look because of COVID, and but we're also focusing on kind of the delivery of industry placements and making sure that we're, we're keeping that um up to standard um over these uh kind of unusual period for the students. So, just to touch on where we go next if we can move on?

So, what T Levels you can expect to see over the next couple of years. We've got further seven starting in September and the specifications for those are already available on the awarding organisation's website for review, and then we have the 6 T levels that we're anticipating for delivery in September 2022, and there's specifications for those are due to be published later this year, and then finally you've got the two levels that are due for delivery in 2023.

So, let's talk a bit about HE. So what work have we been doing with higher education so far? And we've done some of the kind of um standard activity, so we've been working with some higher education institutions and about developing case studies and using this for kind of communications activity, so we can kind of support students and providers with information about options for progression. We've also been working with UCAS quite closely on any kind of support, communications and getting the qualifications information on their pages correct, and also making sure that the results process for ensuring that universities get access to T Level results is all sorted and finished, um ready for next year's students. And we'll also kind of work quite closely with UUK and University Alliance etc. So, some work with intermediary bodies and to support um universities. The other thing that we've been doing which forms quite a large part of our work is that we run a professional and technical education higher education stakeholder group and we've been delivering for some years now. It kind of works as our platform for HE engagement. So it's made up of a mix of universities, HE bodies, UCAS, UUK office for students. Throughout the kind of recent developments and with T Levels, we've been trying to kind of touch base with our stakeholder group about what some of the um barriers are to accepting T Levels or challenges that we anticipate and the universities will need to know more of, um to make decisions on entry criteria for 2022. They've come up with a few things really, um some kind of suggestion on, there is kind of timing, obviously we've been running quite tight with the T Level timelines and universities need time to consider the specifications. And we also heard that universities required a deeper understanding of the Maths content in T Levels to make decisions on entry criteria. and we also had feedback that more information on how academically rigorous T Levels are would help universities in understanding them.

I'm going to talk a bit about how we've addressed those kind of final two points. The last one about how kind of academically rigorous T Levels are, and hopefully I've attested to some of that in this presentation but also we shared alongside the invite to this webinar, a deck which is meant to be kind of a standalone product which supports universities in understanding what what kind of makes T Levels rigorous and makes T Levels appropriate for further study.

f we can move on to the next slide, more specifically about Maths. We know that this is kind of going to be a specific challenge for universities. They want to be able to understand what the Maths content is. T Levels is in T Levels, particularly compared to A Levels. When we developed T Levels, we worked with the Royal Society Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education or ACME um to ensure that the employer panels who were in charge of developing the T Levels had advice on Maths education and what ACME did was they developed something they called the general mathematical competencies framework and it was designed with the purpose of making sure that students could apply math skills in technical contexts. So, the awarding organisations are actually required to embed Maths competencies into the qualifications content, dependent on the mathematical competencies that the um employer panels chose to embed within that T Level. And the purpose of these Maths competencies is making sure that the context is focused on occupational context and real-world applications.

So, what that means is the math content within T Levels is embedded and therefore it is difficult to isolate and grade the Math skills of a T Level student as they are required to demonstrate them in an applied way throughout their course and they achieve, as we've said, they're kind of A to E for their core and the past merit distinction for their occupational specialism and within both of those elements, they will be demonstrating embedded Maths content. So, what we've tried to do is map the Maths content within the specifications to A Level Maths um and for the design surveying and planning one we've also mapped it to um Maths for engineers from the BTEC. We did share that with UCAS alongside this standalone deck on T Levels and but what we would say is we'd really encourage you to consider the mapping in the context of the specifications, so that you can really see how Math is taught and assessed and implied in real life context because that's kind of the true policy purpose of how that was developed. And for T Levels where we believe this to be relevant, we will be running the project again each T Level and and we're happy to share that out through UCAS so you'll have access to those products once they're completed. I just wanted to mention as well and this is in very preliminary stages because it will be related to the wave 2 T Levels but we are planning to do something similar for science-related T Level. So these will be um T Levels in the health and science pathway um the engineering and manufacturing product pathway and likely the agricultural pathways as well. So um, please look out for for that um in in the coming months and we'll make sure that we share that with universities um as soon as we can. Um what I'm gonna do now is move on to Jayne, um to talk a bit about um what it's been like delivering T Levels and what the student students are like and how much they're enjoying their courses. So Jayne, if you're free?

Yep all free. Lovely, thank you very much. So we were as Amelia said one of the wave one providers and we did make the decision to continue even though obviously uh COVID happened and lockdown and we've been in and out of lockdowns. But we did decide to continue and we're happy that we have. The first thing I want to say is that most of the colleges certainly in the wave one have actually set entrance criteria of Maths and English GCSEs. So the students coming on to our T Level already have to have their grade four or above for maths and English. And we thought that was appropriate because of the timing of the exams for the core and that Amelia's talked about for the core year and they would be sat at the same time as resets for Maths and English and we thought that that was probably something the students wouldn't cope as well with. So, we are using the transition programme for any students who don't have their Maths and English GCSEs. So, saying that the the course is going really well um the teaching is very different from traditional vocational qualifications which are unit based so like your traditional BTEC qualifications. This teaching is more in a holistic way. So you're trying to bring in all of the core because you don't know what's going to come up in the core exam. So like A Levels, these students will be sitting two core exams at the end of the year which will be featured in terms of units one to fourteen. So, core one takes into account units one to seven and core two takes into account units eight to fourteen. So the students are taught in a way and prepared in a way as like A Levels to be honest, in that they don't have just a unit which they can then tick off, but they are looking at the whole of the content in relation to it. Saying that as well, the core exams and the employer set project is set in the same time frame. So from May to June, the students will be having to prepare both for the employer set project which are a number of task-based assessments, um all highly controlled and invigilated, so like external exams but where the students are given a brief and they have to work on the brief and do various tasks as Amelia said, but also the core exams as well. So you can ensure that the students are having to demonstrate a number of key study skills, so they're going to have to show revision techniques, they're going to have to show application techniques, and they're going to have to show deeper level of understanding as well. As has already been shown, the guided learning hours are more than traditional qualifications including more than A levels. If you equate this 1800 guided learning hours and compare it to a BTEC qualification which is 1080 hours, you can see there's a lot more hours expected of the students. So the students for us are timetabled over four days a week, whereas for my level three BTEC qualifications, their timetable over three days. So again you can see the students are actually in college more and and studying more and learning more. We did actually at the beginning of the year decide on a 75-25% kind of delivery model. So 75 per cent is in college being taught face-to-face, and 25 is online. So, that for us is easy as one day remotely and three days in college obviously that changed to 100 per cent remotely during lockdown. But we did find that working remotely, the students actually enhanced their independent learning skills as well, as well as their digital skills as well to help them. So they have to come in and out of Google classroom, they have to do various activities on Google classroom, and that's really helped them with their kind of delivery and their understanding of the topics as well. Attendance for us has been extremely high in the 90 per cent uh throughout the whole course and no students falling behind on any work as well . And I think it's worth noting as well the employer set project also includes group work. So the students have to work in a group and they have to assign roles and at the end they have to do a presentation as well. So this helps them hone communication skills but also the group work that they're likely to find now on a degree and qualification as well. So if you go to the next slide, thank you.
So as you've heard, there are different occupational specialisms. So, we we've got lots of different wordings, we've got route, we've got pathway, then we've got occupational specialisms, and each occupational specialism aligns to that one of the pathways. There are four available with the Design Surveying and Planning. We are choosing to deliver two of the occupational specialisms. So we're doing Design Surveying and Planning for Construction for the Built Environment, and we're doing Civil Engineering as well. So the students will split into two roughly two groups to actually deal with those specialisms. And it's within those specialisms that we're sending them out on their industry work placements, so that they are they can apply the knowledge and skill they've learned not only in the core year but also in their specialism year and therefore of get, great benefit to the employers. So, it could be, for example, they are working in relation to surveying or it could be in terms of calculating structural loads. And I have to say that in relation to the Maths content, we have a civil engineer who's actually teaching the Maths content and he's happy with the the depth of the Maths in preparing students for the next slot of study, so for higher level study. So as you've heard, the the students will be completing 315 hours of an industry work placement, and this does allow the students to hone their employability skills this time, but also their application skills because they are expected to work on employer projects and briefs. Our students have already undertaken 35 hours of work experience and that's been a virtual work experience with Morgan Syndal and they've already had to look at working together and present their briefs at the end of the week, and the students have also taken part in in recent FE Commissioner and Ofsted visits as well as one of them attending a national apprenticeship event to highlight their experiences so far which has been very positive. The students really like the qualification, I have to say the teachers really like the qualification as well and that's saying a lot when it's a brand new qualification. It's really good that the teachers are taking as much from it as the students are. And to help the teachers, we actually did send them back into industry so they could get the most up-to-date experience for things like surveying which has obviously changed over time and that's been really helpful as well.

So I think the last slide for me. So the expectation for our students is that they're going to progress into higher level study. So we're expecting them to progress into level four to level six qualifications and that could be degrees, HMCs or it could be higher level apprenticeships or degree level apprenticeships as well. If you can see the core areas that they're studying, they've got a range of information that they will go out and change the world with, into world of work or higher study, so health and safety science, measurement building technology, information and data digital technology, construction maths design, it's there I won't read it all out to you. But there are a range of higher level apprenticeships and degrees that we expect our students to progress onto either locally or nationally. So we're looking at degrees in Construction Management, degrees in Civil Engineering, Quantity Surveying, Construction Site Management Design and Construction Management as well or higher apprenticeships in Quantity Surveying, Construction Sites, Supervisor, Building Services, Engineering Technician as well. And we think it's that breath of study alongside the industry work placement, make some students which are ideal for higher level study. So we offer the degree level apprenticeships in Civil Engineering and we do expect our students who choose that occupational specialism to hopefully gain jobs through their industry placement and come back to us as degree students.

I think that was that was it from me unless they're, they're in I didn't when we're taking questions Amelia but happy to answer questions.

Thanks so much Jane. I think we've got the Q&A side up now. I know that Stella has very helpfully been responding to some questions as they've been coming in on the chat and we've left quite a big gap for questions as we thought we might have a few, so if anyone has got any questions that they would like to ask myself or Jane or any of the awarding organisations, please raise your hand or pop it in the chat.

I think somebody's asked about taking an AP level alongside the T Level that wouldn't be possible and I don't think would be needed either I think the breadth of the T Level is sufficient rather than having to do an A Level alongside.

Yeah, I think that's a fair comment as a provider. Jane I know that Stella said that we think it's unlikely, it's possible in terms of the policy but um in terms of the size of the course that would be quite a sizable piece of work for the student to undertake.

I mean we did look at maybe Further Maths as being an option, I think that would be the only thing that we might look at but that that's an AS or a level three qualification rather than A Level and that's only if we thought that universities were going to require it maybe for Civil Engineering or for when we get into engineering T Level but on the whole, we're not planning on putting alongside anything else. It really is quite sufficient and the depth that they're having to study at.

So where can we find T Level specifications for the pathways in 2020 and 2021? They are all available at the awarding organisation's website and if you just Google the title of the T Level, it should come up. However, on these the pack that I sent out through UCAS um which link to this webinar, the final slide has got links to the specifications specifically as well and so that might be a quicker and easier way to access that.

Cater said, I was told by T Level providers oh thank you Alison who's put the the T Levels for city and guilds in the chat. I was told by a T Level provider that completing Maths and English GCSE was um only recommended and not a requirement element of T Levels, is that correct?

No. To pass at T Level, they have to pass GCSE or functional skills at level two. They will not get their overall T Level grade if they do not, have not achieved that and that is the same um as the equivalent apprenticeship. So it aligns with the apprenticeship policy.

And I think that's why most providers are putting it on as an entry requirement.

Do you see that sorry do you see that happening continually at that entry requirement?

Yeah, I think otherwise it's just too much for the students to do in one year. There might be some some qualifications. So for example, we did have a student who started with us, he didn't have his Maths and and did a reset in November and so that could be another option that we could look at. But we wouldn't want the students doing their core exams, their employer set project and their GCSE resets in the same window. So we could then look at, looking at the November resets for Maths and English and but they have to be very near to completing or very near to a grade four.

Great. Thanks Jane. Stella's just said if they don't get English and Math, they will get what we call a statement of achievement which is basically a still a kind of certificate which shows the elements of a T Level that they have completed. So they will get something and they'll get whatever, whatever kind of level of attainment that they have achieved in the course if if they've not achieved their English and Maths.

So Claire said, and Jane you might be able to help me with this one, that um you have some questions about the Maths content of Design Surveying and Planning as it compares to A Level Maths. We'd love if we could be confident that we could accept this without an A level Maths but we're not quite there yet. Is there a contact in Pearson that I could follow up with outside this webinar? I don't know if Pearson are on the call but they might be able to put something in the chat if there is.

I would say Claire that the Maths mapping that we shared through UCAS along with the link to this webinar did compare it to A Level Maths and we worked really closely with ACME when we developed the Math, the mapping um to make sure that what we produced would translate well to academics, in universities. It's probably worth mentioning that the kind of purpose is to be shared with and your faculties that you'll know will be accepting those specific T Levels and for their perspective hopefully Pearson um will be on the call if they're able to support you with that. But it is probably worth mentioning that that Math mapping is is already mapped um to A Level Maths and quite a bit of narrative in there, so helpful if you could share that with your academics.

Jane, this one might be for you. What typical Maths and English GCSE grades do students come in with? And and that's been quite difficult because of COVID. And so obviously at the moment, there haven't been any GCSE Maths and English sat for the last two years. So this year, it's teacher-assessed grades as it was last year. So last year, we put on grade fours we which are a pass, what we call a pass at GCSE and but we found that probably those students are not really at a grade four. So we have had some issues, so we are actually increasing our entry criteria to a grade five in English and uh for certain Design Design Surveying and Planning a grade six in Maths and because we are concerned about the Maths content and I have to assure you it is definitely A Level standard and students coming in with the four have struggled this year with it. So we do want to give the students the most appropriate chance of actually getting the Maths and understanding the Maths. I think other you know for Education Child Care, we'd be looking at great fives uh for English and Maths. Um and yeah, so it's a variety of grades that people are coming in with. We've got two students who've done A Levels and have gone on to do Design Surveying and Planning because they weren't sure what they wanted to do next. So they've actually come along and and actually thoroughly enjoying the this qualification compared to A Levels which is probably more theoretical than applied so it's applied skills that the students are really really enjoying.

Thanks Jane, Laura said, how would a T Level prepare a student generally for higher education if they change their mind about what area they wanted to continue their studies with does it prepare them well enough to go into a degree programme that is unrelated to their T Level specialism or only in a related area?

I think again sorry, can I jump in here? Yeah exactly, it's the the level of study at level three which is the most important, not necessarily the subject-specific part. You know that they are learning the same skills that you would have with an A Level student who who might be studying three A Levels and come to a conclusion to do something else completely different at degree level. And I think as I say, the it's the revision skills, it's the study skills, it's the communication skills, the presentation skills. And to be honest, our civil engineering degree students now haven't done civil engineering at level three. So, you know, for that, for them, it's a bonus if you can go into a degree straight after something you've studied but there isn't any entry criteria of doing a level three civil engineering, at the moment to get onto a civil engineering degree. So I see it in the same way.

Yeah I think that's fair and you know we have always said that it it makes you know that we are anticipating that it would be for related technical courses. The course content is obviously um very specific to the occupation um but uh if you're you know as a kind of autonomous institution, I suppose it's for you guys to consider the specifications and make a kind of decision on that I mean our position has always been that it's for related technical courses and just because of the fact that T Levels are based on the same occupational standards and apprenticeships and they're occupationally specific um to that mind. So the content would be um really helpful.

I'm getting quite a few comments about people saying that they'd like more information on A Level Maths mapping. Has anyone got any kind of specific feedback from academics about what that would mean? I'm happy to put. I suppose this is in relation to Design Surveying and Planning. I'm happy to to reach out to Pearson and do something more but from our position it's quite tricky to know what would be helpful from from academics I suppose we need to know specifically what do you need to know more that isn't available in the mapping and isn't in the specifications already that that would be my question just to kind of make sure that whatever we do is super helpful. I think we'd need to understand a bit more from academics about what the requirements would be above what what we've what we've done and particularly as I'm sure we will need to do this for some further T Levels so definitely for kind of engineering and manufacturing etc. So if we can kind of get this right, and get the process so so what we're delivering um makes sense for your institutions and your academics oh Claire. She's going to cut and paste what her tutor said. That would be super helpful, yes. Agreed, Sophie. Happy to take yourself off me. If you have any more questions?

I think that there's a question about being prepared for academic skills needed for the degree. And I've just lost it um and I think i think I I would say that they are as well prepared as a student um studying at BTEC qualification. So if you accept those and you have to remember as well that A Level students are no longer writing academic writing or referencing because they all their qualifications are exam-based in the same way as a T Level is. So if you accept A Level students, in relation to those type of study skills, then it's the same study skills that the T Level students would have. And I think you know in terms of referencing, absolutely in terms of report writing, the students learn how to do report writing which is obviously really important for things like civil engineering degrees which A Level student wouldn't do either. So I think, you know, that they are as well well-versed in the independent study and research that you would need but I think to be honest I don't think many level three qualifications including A Levels now have that academic writing and referencing because there's no coursework in A Levels anymore, it's exam-based only. T Levels is exam-based only, so that type of thing I don't think is going to be for any 18-year-old student anymore. And I think that's something obviously that, you know, universities have to help them out with as well.

That's really helpful Jane. What about and kind of from your perspective as a provider with that comparison to BTECs? Um, I I would say that these are um these are harder than BTECs and I think the the thing with it with a BTEC is you can do a unit, finish off the assignment and then you move on to the next assignment without the linking together, and I appreciate what somebody's saying that BTEC students, yes, can do academic writing. But again it depends on you know this has being broached in the same way as a kind of a almost similar to an A Level with the academic part being the examination. So yes they will have to write longer answers in their um core exams and so it's not all short answers. There are some essay type questions but they won't necessarily be doing referencing but as part of a kind of well-rounded student, we would be teaching them that anyway. They might not be able to show it to you but we would teach them those skills anyway.

That's really helpful, thanks Jane. Claire's come back with some comments from her admissions tutor. We kind of touched on the kind of embedding Maths content. We understand that that it’s a challenge um but that was a kind of conscious policy choice to make sure that we know that students can apply these techniques within specific contexts. What I would say is that when we've spoken to Pearson before, they did offer to give some examples where you can see how the content is… I completely lost the word. Well, this how how we've picked bits of content across the synoptic assessments so you can see um which bits of Maths will be covered, so you can kind of get a flavour of how much Maths per assessment will be demonstrated and that can kind of give you um a bit more of an idea of what that grade at the core or the occupational specialism has been.

I take your point about how the content is listed, perhaps we can take that away and I can chat to our advisors about um supporting clarity on that. Thanks Claire. Are you saying that the linear approach to T Levels makes it more challenging than a BTEC? Um well, I think in the presentation, I did kind of point to the fact that it being linear and not unitised makes students able to kind of pick up content um across the course um and we feel like they actually know it and and can deliver it um after assessment and it's been kind of learned and embedded but I don't know whether Jane you have a perspective on the linear versus unitised approach.

I think personally it is harder it's more of a challenge for the students, because it's not just recalling information for an unseen examination but it's also applying it and but they've also then also got the challenge as well of the employer set project where they're bringing in different tasks and therefore different skills in relation to those tasks as well which you don't see on on a BTEC qualification. You do have the external exams two external exams on the BTEC qualification but the rest of the course is internally assessed and and is unitised rather than linear.

Yep, thanks Jane. Kate has said, have you found any difference in the numbers of underrepresented groups of students taking T Levels opposed to BTECs or other qualifications?

It's Stella are you still on the call

Yeah um I was just typing I was just going to say that yeah we're collecting lots of information about the students who are taking up T Levels and we'll be looking at it over the next couple of years to see whether or not there are any patterns that we can see. So at the moment, I don't have any data to give you now but but you know we will be looking at all sorts of different aspects. Jane, I don't know if you have uh found any particular patterns.

Yeah, no, it's it's the first time we've even done this kind of level three qualification we haven't done construction in the built environment which is the most similar BTEC to the T Level and so it's a very first one for us all I would say is is that we've got more males and females and we have we've got a fairly small cohort to start with which was right for the first year next year however we've doubled the numbers in terms of applications and we've seen more of a gender split but saying that we also have students who are vulnerable students or classified as vulnerable students on the qualification as well so it doesn't seem to be any barrier to any particular um group or or group of students and we have for example use our bursary to support these students with laptops um so if they haven't had laptops to be able to work remotely as well so we think that we are able to to help those students who might be underrepresented anyway.

Great. I do know as well, from a communications perspective and we're kind of working with some specific T Level students um for perhaps kind of traditionally underrepresented groups compared to some of the quals that we're doing and acting those as kind of champions for some kind of communications activity as well. So that so we're kind of future thinking about how we're encouraging those types of groups to access varied kind of stem or digital subjects.

yeah and then so that student panel immediately to give give us feedback as well on the programme and the kinds of support that students are getting and how they're finding it so we're definitely using them as part of comms activity but also yeah to to test T Levels as we're starting out and to give us feedback as well which is really important. Great. Are there any more questions?

Feel free if you don't want to type to come in on your microphones.

Okay, I will take that as the end of our webinar. We will go away and have a chat to Pearson and see if there's kind of more we can be doing on the Math side. It's likely that that might kind of spur into something wider than um and perhaps kind of the people on this call so kind of look out through things that come from UCAS, because that would probably be the most likely way that we'd share them and I just want to say thank you to the awarding organisation representation um on the call today I know Allison from City and Guilds has been in the chat so that's really helpful and um a really big thank you to Jane as well from from taking some time out of their day to talk to us about T Levels.

So thanks everyone so much and if you have any questions I think my email is on the initial invite to this webinar through UCAS. So do drop me a line if there's anything else that you'd want about T Levels. Thanks everyone, thank you.

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