You've heard of O levels and A levels – but what about T levels?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:30 30 January 2019
Students at a Norfolk school will be the among the first in the region to study on a new kind of educational course.
Thorpe St Andrew School is one of a handful of schools around the country – and the only one in East Anglia – selected for the pilot of T levels: qualifications equivalent to an A level but offered in more vocational subjects like construction and social care.
A number of further education colleges – including City College Norwich – have also been chosen for the pilot.
What is a T level?
T levels are the latest attempt by the government to bring post-16 vocational courses on a par with A levels.
The two-year courses will be equivalent to three A levels, like level three NVQs or BTEC ordinary national diploma (OND) courses.
The first T Levels will be delivered in digital, education and childcare, and construction will be taught from September 2020.
Designed with help from local employers, they will offer a mix of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during an industry placement.
‘An exciting opportunity’
Thorpe St Andrew School principal Ian Clayton said offering a range of choices was important in a school with some 1,800 students.
He said the extra educational option would offer students who did not want to study A levels “something more suited to their learning styles but also their career aspirations”.
“We have a tradition of very strong vocational performance and T levels are an enhancement of that,” he said.
“For Thorpe St Andrew School to be selected as the only school in the eastern region to offer these qualifications is a great testament to us and our staff.”
He added that staff and students would take the opportunity to help shape the T level courses “to make sure they are fit for purpose and fit for our young people”.
Anne Milton, minister of state for apprenticeships and skills, visited the school and sixth form in Laundry Lane on Thursday to meet year 10 students who will be in the first cohort with the option to study T levels.
She said: “Thorpe St Andrew School will be one of the first schools delivering T levels so it is a very exciting time for the school.
“What has been striking is the huge enthusiasm from staff.
“The school already does quite a lot of vocational courses. T levels are an innovation in that area so this is an exciting opportunity to give pupils level three [A level equivalent] qualifications that will take them into skilled employment or into higher education.”
Ms Milton said the new qualifications were designed to ensure “equal opportunities” for students whatever path they chose to take after GCSEs.
“T levels are making sure people have an alternative route. The courses are designed by employers so the content is very industry-specific and it will be exciting to see them come to fruition in Norfolk.”
Ms Milton also visited City College Norwich, which will be offering T levels in construction, education and childcare and digital skills from 2020.
Principal Corrienne Peasgood said: “We were delighted to welcome the minister of state to our college and to be given the opportunity to show her the work our college is doing to help ensure young people across the county are able to progress and achieve their dreams.”