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

Ofsted has today published the interim report of their review of the quality of the first T Level Courses and the T Level Foundation Year (previously named T Level Transition Programme). The full report is expected to be published in Autumn 2023.

T Levels were introduced as part of the wider reforms to the 16 to 19 education system and, alongside reformed Apprenticeships, are at the heart of the government’s commitment to offering a world-class technical education to young people.

The independent review was commissioned by the Department for Education to gather evidence about the quality of the rollout to ensure the ambitious standards we have set are being met. [1]

We welcome Ofsted’s findings, which offer insights that will help us shape policy and tailor our support programmes, as well as enable us to share best practice and lessons learned with existing and future providers and employers.

We are looking forward to Ofsted’s full report in a year’s time to see how the lessons from the interim report have helped providers take the necessary steps to further improve their T Level and T Level Foundation Year provision.

We encourage all providers to read the report and draw out insights that will help them confirm what they are doing right and identify how they can make improvements on their offer.

According to the report, the more effective providers:

  • ensured that learners were well-informed about the expectations of T Levels prior to enrolment
  • supported teachers through regular meetings, internal training sessions, and opportunities for continuous professional development (CPD) and industry experience
  • collaborated with employers to:
    • develop strong curricula that benefitted from employers’ expertise and up-to-date knowledge and skills
    • plan high quality industry placements that benefitted from providers’ insight into requirements and expectations, as well as ongoing monitoring and support
    • structure the curriculum in a way that learners got the opportunity to practise applying concepts that they had learnt in the classroom.
  • ensured that T Level Foundation Year teachers understood what learners needed to gain from the programme and used a range of assessment tools to check understanding, knowledge, and recall
  • secured work experience for T Level Foundation Year learners that was relevant to the course content.

In response to the difficulties and issues that the report has identified, the Department for Education is looking to:

  • strengthen the law, through the Skills and Post-16 Education Act, so that all pupils are offered the opportunity to have six encounters with providers of approved technical education qualifications and apprenticeships as they progress through school years 8 to 13. This legislation will come into force on 1 January 2023
  • invest c.£30 million over the financial year 2022-23 to support schools and colleges to improve their careers programmes for young people
  • continue work to engage higher education providers with T Levels and encourage them, alongside higher education mission groups, to publish clear entry requirements for T Levels. This will build on our work to date, which has secured confirmation from 128 higher education providers that they will consider T Levels for entry onto a course at their institution.
  • ensure, through the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), that lessons from the development and delivery of existing T Levels have been learned and Awarding Organisations provide high quality materials for future T Levels in sufficient time to enable providers to successfully prepare for delivery
  • continue to sponsor the T Level Resource Improvement Projects (TRIPs) scheme delivered by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), which supports providers and other stakeholders to work together to produce resources for planning and delivery, which are then made available to all providers
  • deliver regular training sessions on curriculum development and sequencing, in addition to the diverse training already on offer, to ensure providers can take full advantage of the flexibility of T Levels to structure curriculum content in a way that best serves the learners
  • engage directly with employers of all sizes throughout England to promote the benefits of T Levels and of hosting industry placements
  • provide a comprehensive Employer Support Package, which offers guidance, workshops and webinars, as well as tailored advice and direct hands-on support, to help build employer confidence, capability, and capacity to deliver high-quality industry placements
  • continue to grow the T Level Ambassador Network, which recruits T Level advocates across key industries to inspire engagement and showcase benefits
  • develop high-impact employer engagement strategies to help providers maximise the opportunities available within their locality and successfully source industry placements and T Level Foundation Year work experience
  • continue to gather evidence on how the strengthened T Level Foundation Year Framework for Delivery is being implemented. The new Framework came into effect in September 2022 and sets out firmer national expectations about the content of the programme and the core knowledge, skills, and behaviours students are expected to develop. It is supplemented by national technical outcomes specific to each T Level route.

The fact that Ofsted found that “providers are committed to making T Levels a success” and that “students appreciated the high-quality teaching” shows that despite challenges, we are on the right track to a well-designed technical education landscape of the highest standards. We will be working together with Ofsted, you the providers, and other stakeholders to ensure the vision becomes a reality.


[1] The survey had initially been planned to take place in the academic years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic had to be postponed.

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