Research published on the first year of the T Level Foundation Year

On 26 May, the Department for Education published two research reports containing findings from the first year of the T Level Foundation Year previously T Level Transition Programme (academic year 2020 to 2021). These reports contain a wealth of provider and student perspectives on how the first year went, which will be of interest to providers designing and implementing their own T Level T Level Foundation Years.  The Department has produced some slides for providers, pulling out six lessons from the research on what providers thought worked well (see below), examples of practice, and a selection of findings on what students thought about the programme.


What providers thought worked well: 6 lessons (see slides for more detail)


  1. Building close links between T Levels and T Level Foundation Years
  2. Deploying more extensive diagnostics than usual practice, in terms of time and scope, which assesses a range of skills
  3. Using a smaller qualification, or non-qualification approach, and ensuring content and assessment are closely aligned to the T Level
  4. Allowing more time for English and maths (E&M), close links between technical and E&M staff, and working with employers to create industry-relevant tasks where students apply their E&M skills
  5. Using project-based work, particularly with employer involvement, to develop independence, critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork skills
  6. Using a variety of assessment methods to assess students’ progress and prepare them for the T Level, including exam preparation


The published reports consist of:


  • A qualitative study conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to understand how providers prepared for and taught the T Level Foundation Year in the first year, what they thought worked well and what was challenging, and what students thought about the programme – full report available here
  • Quantitative survey findings from the Technical Education Learner Survey (TELS), which sought to understand the motivations, experiences and satisfaction levels of the first cohorts of T Level Foundation Year and T Level students – full report available here


This research has provided valuable insights from both provider and student perspectives that have informed the updated Framework for Delivery from September 2022.

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