The government's plans for the new T-level qualifications risk another generation of young people leaving college "with a qualification that has no value", the NEU teaching union has warned.
In its submission to the Department for Education’s consultation on the implementation of the new qualifications, which are meant to be on a par with A levels, the unions said that while they were "desirable, they are not necessarily deliverable".
NEU joint secretary Mary Bousted said because the government had given no indication of how many young people it expected to take T levels, it was "impossible to know whether sufficient work placements are likely to be available".
"If large numbers of students take T levels, it is highly unlikely that relevant and good-quality work placements will be available in the volume required, particularly as young people will be expected to go on placements of up to three months to gain the qualifications," she said. “Without knowing proposed student numbers, it is also impossible to know if the funding proposed is sufficient.
Lessons to be learned
Ms Bousted added: “If few students take T levels, they will just add another qualification to what government has said is a complicated system of vocational qualifications that it wants to simplify. And low student numbers will do nothing to ensure parity of esteem between academic and technical education."
The narrow, academic school curriculum would be a barrier to young people being given the opportunity to take and complete T levels, she said, and this would be exacerbated "by the currently poorly funded careers advice and guidance available to students under 16".
“Lessons should be learned from previous vocational education reforms, many of which, such as the 14-19 Diplomas, were subsequently abandoned and failed to create a stable skills system. Otherwise, there is a serious risk that yet another generation of young people will leave college with a qualification that has no value.