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'Don't let applied generals fall by the wayside'

The future of the applied general qualification is uncertain as the government works to present a 'binary choice' between A levels and T levels

The introduction of T levels should not come at the expense of the applied general set of qualifications, the chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) has said

The future of the applied general qualification is uncertain as the government works to present a 'binary choice' between A levels and T levels

The introduction of T levels should not come at the expense of the applied general set of qualifications, the chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) has said.

Speaking on the Tes FE podcast, Bill Watkins, SFCA chief executive, told host Sarah Simons that while he is not against T levels, his “big worry is that applied generals are going to go by the wayside” and the association is now eagerly anticipating the publication of the government’s response to its T level consultation.

He added: “T levels absolutely should be an opportunity for the sector and the young people studying in it but from a sixth form college perspective they should be an opportunity but not at the expense of applied general qualifications which are currently under review.”

The government said in its T level action plan that “T levels will replace most of the technical provision currently funded for 16 to 19 year olds” leaving a question mark over the future of the applied general.

'Loss of revenue'

Mr Watkin said that ministers will not necessarily push more learners on to T levels by dropping the applied general to present a “binary choice” between T levels and A levels. He pointed to figures that show that 83 per cent of teenagers currently choose an academic route post-16, so a step change would be needed.

Mr Watkin also said that the impact of the new qualification will be felt much sooner than many appreciate.

“The scary thing about this is that although the introduction of T levels seems some way off, and has so much work still to be done, its actually the current year 9 cohort who will actually be in the ‘guinea pig’ year,” he added.

Last week, Tes analysis revealed that a third of the T level occupation clusters, which will form the basis of the new qualifications, are designated as “apprenticeship-only” and therefore will not be delivered in the classroom.

Mr Watkins stressed that this would have a big impact on the sector. “If students are going to be directed away from those taught courses in colleges to an apprenticeship-environment, colleges are really going to feel the loss of students and the revenue attached to those students.”

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