Education and employer groups write to Education Secretary over plans to scrap BTEC

Leaders of 29 teacher and employer groups writing to the recently appointed Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, to express concern over the government’s plans to cut many BTEC qualifications.

The letter was sent as the Ministry of Education prepares to launch the next phase of its Level 3 Post-16 Qualifications Review in which many general applied qualifications such as BTECs will be scrapped to make way for a system where most young people study either A-levels or a T-level (new technical qualification) at the age of 16.

The 29 signatories – leaders of employer groups and organizations representing students, staff and leaders of schools, colleges and universities – are members of the #ProtectStudentChoice: don’t delete the BTEC campaign coordinated by the Sixth Form Colleges Association.

In their letter to the Secretary of State, the leaders write that ‘for a significant number of young people, general applied qualifications will continue to offer a more effective route to higher education or skilled employment than A or T levels’. They then make three recommendations that “would allow us to achieve our shared ambition of creating a world-class education system for 16-19 year olds, but without putting young people or employers at a disadvantage”.

The first recommendation is to remove 134 general applied qualifications from the scope of the next government review, as they have only recently undergone a rigorous reform process and it would be “bureaucratic and unnecessary” to subject them to a new approval process.

The second is to exclude 33 health-related courses from the review because “Given their importance to healthcare workers, it would be very damaging to the NHS to cut funding for these qualifications.”

And the third recommendation is to allow medium or large BTEC qualifications (equivalent to Levels 2 or 3 A) to be eligible for re-approval. Under current plans, only small general applied qualifications (equivalent to Level 1 A) and a small number of large qualifications which are deemed not to overlap with T Levels will be considered for government review.

Commenting on the letter, James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association which coordinates the ProtectStudent Choice campaign, said:

“We hope the Secretary of State will implement the three practical recommendations in this letter from the Protect Student Choice campaign before embarking on the next phase of the post-16 qualifications review. The education and employer leaders who signed the letter all share the government’s ambition to create a world-class education system for 16 to 19 year olds, but believe these proposals must be adopted to avoid disadvantaging young people and employers. General applied qualifications such as BTEC have a vital role to play alongside A and T levels in the future qualifications landscape.

  1. The letter to the Secretary of State for Education can be found here.
  2. More information about the #ProtectStudentChoice campaign can be found here.
  3. You can find more information on the Ministry of Education Level 3 Post-16 Qualifications Review. here. The next phase of the review is expected to begin in “Fall 2022”
  4. This answer to a recent parliamentary question shows that only 134 of the 5,200 qualifications under government review are Level 3 applied general qualifications

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