What are T levels?

Meg Timbrell
Content & Social Media Manager
3 min read

The Sort guide to T levels - new technical courses that are equivalent to 3 A Levels.

The face of the education system and how young people go about entering into a career is rapidly changing around us. Arguably one of the most significant changes in the UK education system within our generation was implemented this autumn, with the introduction of T levels.

T levels are the latest unveiling by the UK government in an attempt to keep pace with the period of transition of education and job-hunting as we enter into the next decade. The aims of T levels are to prepare young people for entry into employment, and build a bridge between industries and potential young employees. They will become one of the three main options for students after GCSE study, to join A levels and apprenticeships that are currently available.

What are T levels?

T levels essentially combine ‘on-the-job’ experience (industry placement of at least 45 days or roughly 350 hours) with traditional classroom learning. You can think of it as combining the kind of experience you’d get during an apprenticeship with A level study. 

T levels are different to an apprenticeship which is 80% on the job and 20% classroom study. It suits students who have a good idea of what career they want to pursue. The industry experience can be offered as part of a block of days or weeks, single day release, or a mixture of these. 

Structure

  • Technical qualification - including core theory, concepts and skills for an industry area; and specialist skills and knowledge for an occupation/career 
  • Industry placement with an employer
  • Minimum standard in maths and English if not already achieved

What are the benefits of T levels?

It will help young people gain a taster within an industry they are interested in, without feeling they have to make a certain decision as you might have to with an apprenticeship. Nearly all students who have just completed GCSEs don’t have a clear career path mapped out ahead of them, and T levels might just be a step in the right direction to aid these decisions. 

What subjects will be available and when? 

Eventually, you should be able to do T levels in the subjects below:

  • Accounting
  • Agriculture, land management and production
  • Animal care and management
  • Building services engineering for construction (starting September 2021)
  • Catering
  • Craft and design
  • Design and development for engineering and manufacturing
  • Design, surveying and planning
  • Digital business services (starting September 2021)
  • Digital production, design and development
  • Digital support and services (starting September 2021)
  • Education and childcare
  • Finance
  • Hair, beauty and aesthetics
  • Health (starting September 2021)
  • Healthcare science (starting September 2021)
  • Legal
  • Maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing
  • Management and administration
  • Engineering, manufacturing, processing and control
  • Media, broadcast and production
  • Onsite construction (starting September 2021)
  • Science (starting September 2021)

However, not all of these subjects will be released immediately. The first three T level areas introduced in September 2020 were Digital, Construction, and Education and Childcare, with subjects in these areas including:

  • Digital: T levels in Digital Production, and Design and Development
  • Construction: T level in Design, Surveying and Planning
  • Education and Childcare: T level in Education

From September 2021, T level courses start in these subject areas;

  • Building services engineering for construction
  • Digital business services
  • Digital support and services
  • Health
  • Healthcare science
  • Onsite construction
  • Science

From September 2022, three new subject areas will be introduced: 

  • Accounting
  • Design and development for engineering and manufacturing
  • Engineering, manufacturing, processing and control
  • Finance
  • Maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing
  • management and administration

From September 2023, the government aims to implement all remaining T levels, including:

  • Animal care and management
  • Agriculture, land management and production
  • Catering
  • Craft and design
  • Hair, beauty and aesthetics
  • Legal
  • Media, broadcast and production

How does the grading system work?

T levels work on a pass/merit/distinction/distinction* system, with separate grades for the core component (from A* to E) and each occupational specialism (pass/merit/distinction). By the end of T level study you will also receive confirmation that you've achieved minimum requirements in English and maths, a certificate of completion of the industry placement, and confirmation of any additional mandatory requirements. 

What happens after T level study?

The benefit of the placement element of T level study is that students can build a rapport with potential employers or companies, giving them the possibility of being recruited immediately after their experience with them is over. 

Some T levels may also be a great pathway into university study to further an understanding of a field. But, unlike A level students, T level students will have gained not only specialist knowledge but actual industry experience to turn them into better candidates for jobs further down the line. 

For more information on T Levels, click here.

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