In its T-level Action Plan, the Department for Education says that in time T levels will replace most of the technical provision currently funded for 16- to 19-year-olds. This has led to uncertainty about the future of popular courses like performing arts and sports, which are not included in the 15 T-level routes.
Catherine Sezen, senior policy manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “In the AoC response to the T-level consultation, we called on the DfE to consider the approach to the needs of those sectors not in scope of T levels, such as travel and tourism, music performance and some art and design qualifications. All of these sectors have employment opportunities available and are worth billions to the UK economy.”
She points to the 2015 Employer Skills Survey from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. It shows that employment in arts and other services was greater than in construction, agriculture and financial services.
“In other high-performing European systems, such as Finland and Sweden, there are pathways for sport, the arts and travel and tourism,” Sezen adds.
Sam Parrett, principal of London South East Colleges, says that subject areas being excluded from the T-level framework will become unviable for both colleges and awarding bodies.
“This is likely to increase the financial pressure on colleges, potentially the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for some. It will also prevent many young people from studying exciting courses which can lead directly to fulfilling and worthwhile careers,” she says.
A DfE spokesperson said: “We proposed in the T levels consultation that there should be a review of government-funded qualifications at level 3 and below, including subjects not covered by T levels or A levels. We will publish our response to the consultation in due course.”