Scrapping BTECs 'could make student grades worthless'

Forcing students to choose between A levels or T levels does not give a greater guarantee of progress, says ASCL

Students with additional learning needs and those already holding BTEC qualifications could suffer if applied general qualifications are scrapped, warns the ASCL union

Scrapping BTECs could lead to more young people dropping out of education, according to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

In its response to the government consultation on post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below, the association said that abolishing applied general qualifications – of which BTECs are the most popular – would not give a greater guarantee of progress.

“Forcing students down a path of either A levels or T levels at age 16 does not give a greater guarantee of progress towards a student’s ‘intended outcome’. On the contrary, our view is that this risks leading to more students dropping out of education altogether,” says the response by the association, led by general secretary Geoff Barton (pictured).  


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“Adopting a middle ground of an applied route that sits between academic and technical routes is, in our view, likely to result in better outcomes for the cohort at level 3 than presenting all students with a binary choice between an academic or a technical route,” the union adds.

According to ASCL, scrapping BTECs could also have a disproportionate impact on students with special educational needs, with 13 per cent of students who take applied general qualifications having special educational needs  – compared with 4 per cent who take A levels.

 “Consideration must also be given to the impact of these changes on the thousands of people who have undertaken qualifications that may now be considered worthless, or no longer understood over time by employers,” the consultation response concludes.

ASCL published a joint statement with the Sixth Form Colleges Association in March, which warned that stopping funding for BTECs would be "rash and reckless".

“Applied General qualifications are tried and tested, and recognised by universities and employers. It would be rash and reckless to scrap these qualifications in favour of T levels, which are untried and untested,” it said.

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