On 6 September 2021, members of the House of Commons debated the future of BTECs and the Government’s newly proposed T-Level qualifications.
The debates, which were held as part of Monday’s session on education, included statements from Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan MP.
The Department for Education is proposing to remove funding for post-16 Applied General Qualifications (AGQs) as part of its review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 (A-Level or equivalent).
The Minister was questioned by MPs on the potential Impact of the Government’s plan to remove funding for BTEC qualifications.
In response to these questions, Keegan stressed that future qualifications must prove that they provide the skills needed by employers.
Keegan stated: ‘We will continue to fund high-quality qualifications that can be taken alongside—or as alternatives to—T-levels and A-levels where there is a clear need for skills and knowledge that T-levels and A-levels cannot provide. Those may include some Pearson BTECs, provided that they meet new quality criteria for funding approval.’
A number of members questioned the Minister on the Government’s reasoning behind removing funding from successful and widely appreciated BTEC courses.
According to Toby Perkins MP, ‘The Minister suggests she has widespread support, but 86% of respondents to the Department for Education’s own consultation disagreed with the Government’s plan to scrap funding for qualifications that overlapped with T-levels. Even the former Conservative Education Secretary, Lord Baker described it as “an act of educational vandalism.”’
When asked what steps the Government is taking to support the development of T-Levels, Keegan stated that the Government has ‘have provided a comprehensive package of support and investment to help trailblazing providers get ready to deliver.’
According to Keegan, these support measures include a total of £268 million in capital funding available for T-levels starting in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
TIGA, the trade association representing the video games industry, has written to ministers and submitted a formal consultation response calling for the funding to be retained and enhanced. In a consultation response submitted to the Department for Education earlier this year, TIGA outlined the following points:
- Funding for post-16 Applied General Qualifications (AGQs) should not be removed simply because there is an A-Level or T-Level ‘alternative’.
- Removing funding for pathways other than A-Levels and T-Levels will impose a binary system which could damage the talent pipeline for the video games industry and wider creative sectors.
- Current AGQs allow students to gain practical skills in design and development such as storyboarding, 3D modelling, animating, rendering, illustrating, coding and sound and motion capture. These are all important for the video games industry.
- England’s and the UK’s education system needs to be flexible to adapt to the changing needs of industry and employers.
- Reducing the pathways available to students will constrain the system’s ability to design and implement new qualifications at the rate that new roles are required.
Find the full T-Levels debate here.
Find the full BTECs debate here.