The awarding organisations for the first three new T levels have been announced.
NCFE has been awarded a contract to deliver the education and childcare T levels, and Pearson has been awarded contracts to deliver T levels in design, surveying and planning, as well as digital production, design and development. The three contracts were expected to be worth £17.5 million in total, according to the original tender documents.
The first of the new T-level subjects will be taught from 2020 and the first providers to offer these new routes were announced in September. Fewer than half of the 54 providers chosen are FE colleges, while 13 schools were picked.
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Controversy over procurement
The government’s decision to only allow one awarding organisation for each T level was a matter of much controversy last year. However, despite a threat of legal action from the Federation of Awarding Bodies, skills minister Anne Milton held on to that commitment.
“We want to select the awarding organisation with the right vision, to get the best for the young people taking T levels,” she said last July.
Education secretary Damian Hinds said this was "a major step forward in our work to upgrade technical education in this country".
"We have made significant progress to implement these vital reforms, which are on track for delivery from 2020," he said.
"Working alongside the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, the awarding organisations will play a vital role ensuring T levels are high quality and deliver the skilled workforce employers need."
Sir Gerry Berragan, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, said: "I am really pleased at the pace the work has developed and the institute will continue to build on the work of the Department for Education.
"Technical education offers a real and exciting alternative to A levels for young people, with T levels now sitting alongside apprenticeships. We remain committed to the pace of the roll-out and look forward to working with these suppliers as they develop the first T-level qualifications."
T levels were developed following a report by Lord Sainsbury into technical education.
He said: "My panel recommended the single-provider model for two reasons. Firstly, greater clarity. There are currently more than 3,000 level 3 qualifications eligible for public funding for 16- to 18-year-olds, spread across more than 100 different awarding organisations. We cannot expect every employer in the land to know which of these qualifications are any good, and actually deliver the knowledge and skills they are looking for in new recruits.
"Secondly, we wanted to remove any possibility of a race to the bottom on quality, where awarding organisations are incentivised to compete for market share on the basis not of rigour, but instead on which qualifications are easiest to pass. I am delighted that we have reached this milestone in the roll-out of the T-level programme."
'Strengthening technical education'
Rod Bristow, president of Pearson in the UK, said: "The award of these licences recognises our long-standing collaboration and partnership with employers of all sizes to design, develop and deliver world-class qualifications in these industries.
"T levels represent a significant opportunity to strengthen the recognition and value of technical education in England. We look forward to continuing to work with the government, employers and providers to ensure their successful implementation, and to support learners, as they begin their programmes of study from next September."
Stewart Foster, managing director of NCFE, said the organisation was "excited to be at the forefront of the implementation of T levels".
He added: "T levels mark a revolution in technical education and the CACHE-developed technical qualification will help ensure that learners entering the education and childcare workplace have been trained to the highest of standards.
"We would like to thank the sector for the huge amount of support offered to us throughout this process and look forward to continuing to work together."