Student record

Calling on our MPs to protect student choice – FE News

Earlier this year, the government unveiled its plan to fund 160 Tier 3 qualifications, including 38 BTECs, by 2024. These qualifications are set to be phased out as they are meant to overlap with the rollout of T-tiers.

The prospect of funding for these qualifications is deeply worrying. Of the 662,000 students aged 16 to 19 currently in the vocational stream, 66,000 are enrolled in the 160 diplomas that will be abolished. 1 in 10 registrations will be impacted by these decisions. These statistics worsen when we consider that 27% of BTEC students are the “most disadvantaged” in the system.

Among the diplomas to be abolished is the BTEC diploma in health and social action. Not only is the qualification “extremely popular and respected by universities and employers”, but the health and social care sector continues to be threatened by growing skills shortages and high turnover. How can this decision be justified when, this year, there were 1,300 level T courses, ie less than 2% of the total volume of learners. The UK also faces a growing skills gap, with skills shortages costing the UK economy a record £6.6 billion a year. We need more options for high-quality learning and skills development, not less.

The introduction of the T-level curriculum was a significant step forward in terms of providing students with a background course option in their area of ​​interest. However, it should be noted that T-levels and stand-alone vocational qualifications perform very different functions. Currently, students can take a mix of A-level, BTEC and/or equivalent courses to support their learning. While one T-level is equivalent to three A-levels. At 15, those who choose to follow a professional or technical path will be forced into a binary decision between A-levels or T-levels. Additionally, many careers, such as engineering, are highly dependent on academic, professional, and technical learning styles. We must therefore ask ourselves, in a world of work that demands more and more flexibility, why do we choose to restrict our students’ options rather than expand them?

For these students, the Applied General Diplomas, such as the BTEC, are the gateway to higher education or skilled employment. These qualifications have transformed the life chances of thousands of young people and have made huge contributions to both social mobility and local economies. Removing them will leave many students without a viable path at age 16 and hamper their progression to higher education or skilled employment.

The stakes are high and it is time to act.

On monday 18e Julythere is a debate about the future of BTECS in Westminster Hall. This debate was triggered by the #ProtectStudentChoice do not refund BTEC petition which received 108,329 signatures earlier this year.

Any MP who cares about education and maintaining opportunities for the young people of this country should attend. We need politicians brave enough to take a stand on this.

By Alice Barnard, Managing Director, The Edge Foundation

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