Young people in England can currently choose between three types of Level 3 qualification at the age of 16: academic qualifications such as A levels, technical qualifications that lead to a specific occupation, and applied general qualifications such as BTECs that combine the development of practical skills with academic learning.
In July 2021, the Department for Education confirmed plans to replace this three-route model with a two-route model of A levels and T levels (the new suite of technical qualifications), where most young people pursue one of these qualifications at the age of 16. As a result, funding for the majority of BTEC** (**shorthand for all Applied Generals) qualifications will be removed.
The #ProtectStudentChoice campaign coalition of organisations that represent and support staff and students in schools, colleges and universities is deeply concerned about this plan. The shared priority is to #ProtectStudentChoice by ensuring that Applied General Qualifications continue to play a major role in the future qualifications landscape.
UVAC has joined this public campaign. We would note UVAC supports ALL Applied Generals and not just BTECs. From our perspective we greatly value Applied Generals as:
- They have a key role in supporting progression to HE, we would note their key role in widening access and participation and supporting progression in some key subject areas e.g. health and social care
- They offer a distinctive choice and we fear with a binary choice learners could be pushed down pathways e.g. ‘academic’ A levels or ‘technical’ T Levels that did not best meet their needs
- We do not see Applied General as a threat to the successful roll out of T Levels; indeed, we believe preserving choice is one of the best ways of ensuring the success of T Levels as the option for individuals with a commitment to working in a particular sector/occupation