It may be a new year, but the same concerns about the introduction of T levels continue to echo around the FE sector and the wider education world.
The Trades Union Congress has joined the long list of organisations, teachers and parents who have spoken out about the challenge of implementing the new qualifications.
Iain Murray, the TUC’s senior policy officer, raised concerns about funding levels at a Commons Education Select Committee inquiry into the “fourth industrial revolution”.
He said that the UK was “in dire need” of a high-quality technical education system, but warned that the current time frame for the introduction of the new technical qualifications – which are due to be taught from September 2020 – is “quite challenging”.
In May last year, Department for Education permanent secretary Jonathan Slater recommended that the introduction of T levels be delayed for a year – even going so far as requiring education secretary Damian Hinds to submit a ministerial direction to push them through in the planned timescale.
Murray said: “Our concerns are around [whether] the FE system, especially with the levels of funding in the FE system at the moment, [has] adequate funding to deal with the introduction of T levels, in particular, [its ability to] support for the workforce in the FE sector.”
The government has promised an extra £500 million annual funding for T levels (eventually), but the Institute for Fiscal Studies previously warned that this would barely cover cuts the sector has already suffered.
Indeed, the annual funding will initially only stand at £60 million in 2018-19, not reaching £500 million until the qualifications have been fully rolled out in 2023. And who knows who will be in government by then.