Ofqual: Scrapping BTECs could create 'barrier'

Ofqual: Stopping funding applied generals could create 'barrier to progress' if students' choices 'unduly restricted'

Stephen Exley

Scapping applied generals could create a barrier to students' progress, warns Ofqual

Disadvantaged students could see their education progress blocked by the scrapping of BTECs and applied generals, exams regulator Ofqual has warned.

In its response to the government consultation on the future of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below, Ofqual stresses the importance of a “broader range of publicly-funded qualifications” than just T levels and A levels to “ensure greater equality of opportunity”.

The consultation closed yesterday. It was the first part of a two-stage consultation on post-16 qualifications. It is based on the premise that A levels, the new T levels and apprenticeships will be the “gold standard”, with all other qualifications (except GCSEs) in the scope of the review. These include applied generals such as BTECs and Cambridge Technicals. The government says the rationalisation will help to “streamline and boost the quality of education”.

Background: Ofqual blasts 'confusion' over BTECs

Opinion: 'Why GCSEs won't be scrapped – but BTECs could be'

More news: Parents ‘not comfortable’ on post-16 options

T levels and A levels the 'gold standard'

In March, the Association of School and College Leaders and the Sixth Form Colleges Association warned that the move would be "rash and reckless".

Ofqual’s submission states: “The need for some flexibility in the size of qualifications on offer is important. In particular, learners with SEND, or those with caring responsibilities for example, may need to study part-time or more flexibly and so may face difficulty accessing a T level which is equivalent in size to 3 A levels.

Choices could be 'unduly restricted'

“We know that many learners study applied generals – sometimes in combination with A levels – in order to progress to university. If T-level study is not suited to a learner, if they are not ready to specialise in an occupation, or they are unable to access the qualification for any other reason, then there is a risk that a barrier to progress may be created if their alternative choices are unduly restricted.

“This may particularly (but not only) affect disadvantaged learner groups. The continuing opportunity to progress for these students will be a crucial factor in considering which qualification routes should receive funding alongside T levels. For all the examples of learner characteristics above, a broader range of publicly-funded qualifications may ensure greater equality of opportunity in accessing suitable qualifications.”

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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