Planning Student Support
This resource contains guidance about and critical areas to consider when planning student support needs and resources for T Level students.
We’ve defined support as any activity or service that allows students to benefit from T Levels and industry placements, without undue barriers to access and participation.
Every provider will already have successful student support processes in place. This resource can help you understand what specialist support should be in place for T Levels students and how existing processes can be modified and enhanced.
Also included are suggested checklists covering:
The checklists describe actions you could take:
- before enrolment
- at enrolment
- during Year 1, including industry placements
- in Year 2, including assessment and progression.
Who is it for?
Staff in student services, student support, finance, pastoral care and wellbeing, senior leaders.
Consider the eight key areas you may need to review and refine to ensure T Levels students are successfully supported.
You can also review the Student Support case study.
Select the relevant checklist for your role in T Levels and industry placements.
Go through each action with your team and others in the organisation who support students.
Write notes against each item in the checklist. For example, you could write specific actions you agree to take and/or more information which you need to find before agreeing an action.
Include agreed activity on an existing action plan or produce a new action plan.
Do you need to refine any of these key areas to make them specific for T Level students?
1. Student inductions:
- Does your existing induction process cover what students can expect from their T Level experience and industry placement?
- Does it introduce students to employers and your industry placement team?
- Will it set out a timeline for the course, including for example, highlighting when students will complete their industry placement and other statutory requirements such as examination periods?
- Do students know what specific support is available to them?
- Do parents understand what the course entails and have you used parents evenings and open evenings to help explain the T Level programme and the benefits of industry placements?
Best Practice: HSDC produced a specific induction timetable for T Levels students.
2. Student diagnostic activities:
- Have you planned a broad enough range of initial assessment exercises and tasks to understand where students are starting from so that you can monitor future progress?
This could include a broad range of skills being diagnosed and assessed such as the students’ current attainment levels of English, maths and digital skills, (including a focus on specific T level competency requirements in these areas), essential and employability skills so as to address any barriers to learning or support needs which the student has.
- Does your tutorial process support a T Level student to reflect on their learning, set expectations for themselves and track their progress?
- Do you use group tutorials to cover skills and knowledge that all T Level students will benefit from?
Best Practice: Fareham College holds weekly pastoral tutorials, monthly one-to-one academic tutorials and sessions with their course leader.
“We use this time to build on individual learning plans, making sure students are learning the knowledge, skills and behaviours as well as any specifics they need individually. The tutors also meet weekly to discuss any key points for T Levels students either as a cohort or as individuals. Our students are visibly and regularly supported, and their progress is tracked. We ask them where they want to be and what do we need to do together to get to that goal. How can we support you? We already had effective student support in place, but the four-point approach of tutorial, pastoral support, academic one-to-one and course leader sessions has worked really well, and we have good feedback from T Level students too.”
4. Employability skills:
- Does your knowledge, skills and behaviour curriculum prepare students for the workplace?
- Does the process develop confidence in the student and the employer?
- Does it include feedback from employers and students and is it continually being refined and enhanced?
- Have you checked with employers about the characteristics and skills they value most?
- Do students learn to practice skills such as CV writing, interview techniques, online and workplace etiquette?
- Do students know their rights and responsibilities when in the workplace?
Best Practice: Fareham College reports that their students really valued the weekly one-hour employability sessions. Students reflected that it helped build their confidence to add to the technical skills and industry-specific knowledge. They felt better prepared for the workplace.
5. Celebrating student success:
- Do you celebrate milestones and student success throughout the T Level course?
- There are potentially many opportunities to celebrate achievement and reward students over a two-year course and 315 hour minimum industry placement. This is important because without formal assessments, T Levels students do not necessarily receive praise and positive assignment feedback.
Best Practice: Barnsley College plan to introduce certificates for achieving the 100, 200, 315 hour milestone points in the student industry placement journey. They feel they are milestones worth rewarding. You could link these celebrations to your marketing strategy to show how you celebrate success.
6. Financial support:
- Do students know about the financial support that could be available to them for industry-specific kit such as uniforms, software packages, laptops and tablets?
- Are they aware of how to highlight their need and to apply for the funding?
Best Practice: Nelson and Colne College used some bursary funding to help students travel to their industry placement and, in some cases, for support staff to travel with the student on their first day. This helped build confidence, especially for students who have not had the opportunity to travel alone using public transport before.
7. Online learning platforms and progression monitoring tools and systems:
- Do students have access to online platforms to record, reflect and monitor their own performance and for staff to track and upload progress and evidence?
Best Practice: Fareham College uses ProPortal which links to their ProMonitor system. Weston College created an e-portfolio for students and staff to be able to ‘drop in’ and leave comments to feedback on student coursework and progress. These also feed into general coursework tracking and progress monitoring. Many colleges use ProMonitor or other similar tools to collect student data in relation to assessment, needs, knowledge, skills and behaviours and use these for reporting and monitoring progress.
8. Updating supporting policies:
- Are your policies up to date to reflect the needs of T Level students specifically?
- Does your safeguarding policy include consideration for the needs of students on an industry placement and how you can support that student throughout their time in the workplace?
- Do you have policies and processes documented for industry placements for both employers and students to read and buy into?
Is there a policy in place to help students get to their industry placement workplace or get lunch when there?
1. Design and plan how to implement methods to assess individual students’ support needs.
2. Collect information about individual students to inform initial assessment of their support needs, including information from schools.
3. Categorise the types of support that may be needed, the services which meet these needs and the resources needed to deliver them.
4. Check that your organisation’s policies for student support (including employability support, work experience and safeguarding) align with the requirements of T Levels and industry placements.
5. Carry out initial and diagnostic assessment and use the information to plan support for individual students.
6. Plan how to support students to:
- develop the full range of employability skills and behaviours
- develop their study skills.
7. Check that the methods used to prepare students for industry placements provide the right type and level of support for individual students.
8. Check that individual students have obtained (or will obtain) bursaries and other types of financial support to which they are entitled.
9. Check that industry placements are available and accessible to all students and that the necessary resources are in place to support access.
10. Check that information about students’ progress in learning is collected from the start, is shared with relevant staff and is analysed to make sure that all students achieve full value from their programme.
11. Check that students have an individual industry placement access plan which identifies placement-specific requirements for funding, uniforms, equipment etc. and that the necessary support is provided to meet these requirements.
12. Check that the methods used to advertise and apply for industry placements are open and fair and allow all students to make an informed choice of placement.
13. Check that employers are aware of individual student’s support needs before the industry placement starts.
14. Check that information about students’ progress on industry placements is collected from the start and is analysed to make sure that all students achieve full value from their placement.
15. Plan how to support students on industry placements out of hours and out of term time.
16. Continuously review the support provided to students and evaluate how it contributes to progress and achievements, including:
- pastoral support
- employability support
- support on industry placements
- individual support and group sessions.
17. Check that students receive the right types and amount of support to prepare for exams and other forms of assessment.
18. Check that students can access relevant, high-quality careers and further study resources to support progression from T Levels and industry placements.
Finance for student support
1. Identify students who are entitled to financial support and secure bursaries and other additional T Level funding. (e.g. industry placement costs)
2. Give students enough financial and funding information to help them make an informed choice of occupational specialism and industry placement.
3. Check that your organisation’s policies for financial support align with the requirements of T Levels and industry placements.
4. Continuously review the financial support students receive and evaluate how it contributes to progress, achievements and wellbeing.
Pastoral care and wellbeing
1. Check that students are given comprehensive, high-quality information about the pastoral care and wellbeing support they will receive to help them make an informed choice about studying the T Level. Do they have information on occupational specialisms, assessment methodologies, industry placement requirements and alternative study programmes?
2. Check that delivery teams know about the full range of pastoral care and wellbeing support available to students.
3. Check that your organisation’s policies for pastoral care and wellbeing support are aligned with the requirements of T Levels and industry placements.
4. Check that information provided by initial and diagnostic assessment is used to identify students’ needs for pastoral care and that it is shared with staff appropriately to ensure data is effectively utilised and wellbeing support is put in place.
5. Check that methods for providing pastoral care and supporting students’ wellbeing are included in students’ individual learning plans.
6. Check that arrangements for bursaries, discretionary funding, and other financial support for students on industry placements is clearly communicated to all students.
7. Check, where possible, that students are able to choose industry placement opportunities suitable for their:
- personal development
- location and travel options.
8. Continuously review students’ experiences of pastoral care and wellbeing support on industry placements and evaluate how they contribute to their progress and success.
9. Check that careers advice is well-planned and contributes to students’ wellbeing, e.g. by creating positive feelings about employment or other progression opportunities.
1. Provide effective leadership to guarantee that students receive high-quality support throughout your organisation’s T Level and industry placement programmes.
2. Empower student services, finance and pastoral care/ wellbeing teams to check that the organisation’s policies align with the requirements of T Levels and industry placements and to change your policies where necessary or advisable.
3. Mandate all staff who support students on T Levels and industry placements to carry out continuing professional development (CPD) relevant to their roles.
4. Deploy sufficient resources (including staff, facilities and equipment) to enable student services, finance and pastoral care/wellbeing teams to carry out their roles effectively.