Video transcript: planning the T Level student journey with The Manchester College

Karen Wright – Assistant Principal

We started our strategy in this journey really in 2016 and we had a 2020 strategy and now we've moved into our 2025 and we started off with careers, not courses, and looking at what's that real thing that we want to do, where do we want to go and we want to be - Technical education and that is our focus, so it fit really nicely into T levels.


Chris Wright – Assistant Principal

Without doubt, one of the successes of the T levels has been the early engagement with industry partners and employers. Without their support right from the outset in being able to look at the specifications, develop project work that each of those specifications ensuring that what the students were going to get from their industry placement was mapped and synchronised to both the standards and the work that they would be undertaking by us on their placements is absolutely vital to the success of the team.

Neil Conlon – Conlon Construction

Yeah, we helped Manchester College develop and shape their T level by very early engagement during their scholarship program, which is like a precursor to the T level. As a sort of collaborative group of construction companies, we helped to advise and guide the college on what we needed as an industry from the students once they actually come through the T levels. We discussed with the college whether we wanted extended placements or we want shorter bite sized chunks of each individual student, and we agreed between ourselves and the college that we'd like to see all of the students on each of the different contractor sites if possible. So we decided to go for the smaller placement sizes so that we could then get a taste of the students, but the students could also get the taste each of the contractors as well.

Chris Wright – Assistant Principal

The induction process for two levels at the Manchester College starts as soon as the student makes an application for their program. In July we hold a three-week summer school which is 3 days a week attendance for students either on site, face to face, or virtually dependent on the circumstances in which a student undertakes some short project lead work supported by the industry partners that they would be working with in the future. That involves joint marking and joint verification of the students project work and culminates in an  employer led interview for places on the T level.

Bandhana– T Level student

The T Level summer school had made the right decision because I was traveling from so far about two hours so it made me think, how is it worth it? And after the summer school, I realized it was worth it. And that is something that I would want to carry on with.

Tom – T Level Student

The pre induction was really good because I got an interview by Vinci which like kinda gave me insights already into construction by what it would be like actually going to my first ever interview in construction and the summer school really helped 'cause I got to meet the teachers online and view a bit about the course and find out what actually I'll be learning mastering the course at Manchester College.

Chris Wright – Assistant Principal

So the induction process once a student is actually in college on a T level lasts for about 6 weeks and duration so the first half term. We'll start with an induction event for parents and students to meet the employers that the students were working with in the future. After that initial induction process has taken place and contact details have been exchanged, students then move into that 6 week learning experience there will introduce them to the curriculum, introduce them to the employers, but then also conduct a CSCS card training so that the students have got the wherewithal and they're safe to go out on site and work with the contractors.

Alison Dady, Director Sport, Public Services and Care Professions

So to capture the gaps in the students knowledge and skills, we complete an induction survey with the students at the beginning of the academic year. And from that survey and the student feedback that we also included in student forums, we identified that several of the students needed more knowledge of science. So we adopted the program, revisited it, reviewed it and then we built in more science content into the delivery to achieve a really positive outcome at the end of theyear. To develop the students skills. Before they go on to industry placements, it's really important that they have a safe space to practice those clinical skills.So for example, with our hospital ward, as you can see here, the students can practice their skills in a safe environment. They're comfortable and it will really help them. Then when they move on to their their placements to have that confidence. It's a real springboard and it will help them to then demonstrate those skills in placements which they wouldn't have had that opportunity to do before if we didn't have these fantastic facilities?

Chris Wright – Assistant Principal

We've developed our T Level programs with an eye on making sure that there is current and relevant and up-to-date as we possibly can. And the way we've been able to do that is through the relationships we have with our industry partners, conducting a gap analysis almost on the curriculum and the specifications that we're working to and helping us identify where there are gaps and adapting that curriculum based on what they, as employers in the field, need today. An example of that is we looked at the specification for construction and the requirement about drones and being able to use drones and the digitization of the industry was a  key issue. So we developed in partnerships and bespoke add-on modules to our T level around drone pilots licenses.

And now each student who joins  a T level at the end of that leaves with a drone pilots license, making them that much more employable to the industry. One of the tools that we use to maximize achievement and celebrate student success is we've developed something called the T award.  Students are eligible for a range of benefits, including a £300 a year bursary.An industry standard equipment such as laptops, PC's, access to technology, and they're all entered into the world skills competition teams. They’re  provided with industry standard branded workwear, so the PPE that the students were is all branded both with the T level logos. But also with some of the sponsors and the industry Partners that we work with.

Tom, T Level  Student

So the end of year summer was like basically just gives the college a chance to recognize all the hard work students have done over the year and give them like rewards and recognition for all the stuff that done.  It feels amazing to be named T level student of the year because I'm the first student to ever do it in construction background and then the first student ever from the T level course to do it so it just feels amazing and all my hard work's been recognized.  Well I’ll be staying on with my provider Spatial Initiative, doing a degree course of them that they've offered me after I finished college, and hopefully I'll be staying on with them to complete my degree at university and hopefully I'll be offered a job.

Karen Wright – Assistant Principal

The best advice I could give to providers is about investing in the team, making sure that you really look at the team, look at what is needed.

Claire Prescott, Dead of Department

A great piece of advice for approaching this program, I think, is to look at the specification but consider it more holistically. There's lots of interlinking aspects of skills and knowledge across the the core T level specification units as well as the employer set projects in the clinical. So in order to sort of weave that together, first of all, it can it can obviously save time in terms of your delivery, but also it makes it far more engaging for the students if you're looking at most of the topics and not feeling like you need to work step by step through the specification in order.

Chris Wright – Assistant Principal

If you're thinking about starting the T level, stop thinking. Start doing.

And I would get started as soon as possible, and even if that's only setting aside small pieces of time on a regular basis, to begin looking at the specification, looking at what other people are doing, looking at who your industry partners might be and start those conversations with externals as soon as possible take as much information and as much experience from others, who’ve been through it as you possibly can, but they are a fantastic program. T levels are going to be something really unique and and really beneficial to the students. The students enjoy them, the employers like it. The employees particularly like being involved. So involve as many people as we possibly can, but stop thinking about it and actually start doing something.

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