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T Levels: what they are
T Levels are new 2-year courses which are taken after GCSEs and are broadly equivalent in size to 3 A Levels. Launched in September 2020, these courses have been developed in collaboration with employers and education providers so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for entry into skilled employment, an apprenticeship or related technical study through further or higher education.
T Levels offer students practical and knowledge-based learning at a school or college and on-the-job experience through an industry placement of at least 315 hours – approximately 45 days.
The courses are available at selected colleges, schools and other providers across England.
T Levels are being gradually rolled out. The first 3 T Levels launched in September 2020, with a further 7 introduced in September 2021.
In September 2022, an additional 6 T Levels will be launched, with the remaining 7 beginning in September 2023.
We have published a list of the providers offering T Level courses up to September 2023.
How T Levels will work with other qualifications
T Levels will become one of the main choices for students after GCSEs alongside:
- apprenticeships for students who wish to learn a specific occupation ‘on the job’
- A levels for students who wish to continue academic education
- other qualifications not served by A levels or T levels, including sport science, performing arts and small qualifications designed to be taken alongside A levels
The Department for Education (DfE) is streamlining and improving the quality of the post-16 level 3 qualifications system. We are strengthening progression pathways, creating clearly defined academic and technical routes with high quality qualifications leading to further study, and/or skilled employment. This will help students to make good choices and see more easily how their study will help them to progress.
T Levels are based on the same standards as apprenticeships, designed by employers and approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute).
We expect the total time for a T Level to be around 1,800 hours over the 2 years, including the industry placement. This is a significant increase on most current technical education courses.
T Levels differ from an apprenticeship. T Levels prepare students for work, further training or further study. An apprenticeship is typically 80% on-the-job and 20% in the classroom and is more suited to those who want to earn a wage and learn at the same time, and are ready to enter the workforce at age 16.
How T Levels have been developed
Employers and providers have been working together to develop each T Level, with support from DfE and the Institute. Groups of employers have defined the skills and requirements for each T Level course by participating in T Level panels. This ensures that students taking T Levels will develop the technical knowledge and skills required by employers in that industry.
The T Level panels have developed the content for the technical qualifications which are part of each T Level programme, based on the same standards as apprenticeships. These plans are then tested and reviewed with students, education providers and additional employers.
The technical qualifications for 2020, 2021 and 2022 T Levels have now been approved by the Institute.
Structure of a T Level
T Levels require students to undertake both a technical qualification and an industry placement with an employer.
Students will also be required to work towards the attainment of maths and English if they have not already achieved grade 4 at GCSE, as they do on other 16 to 19 programmes. However, T Level students are no longer required to achieve either a grade 4 in English and maths GCSE or level 2 in functional skills to pass their programme.
The T Level Transition Programme is a 1-year post-GCSE study programme designed to support progression to, and success on, a T Level. It’s aimed at students who would like to do a T Level but would benefit from additional preparation and support before starting one.
The programme gives students the opportunity to study technical content aligned to T Levels and develop their English, maths and digital skills, alongside work experience and personal development.
You can see a list of providers delivering the Transition Programme in 2021 to 2022 and those planning to deliver in 2022 to 2023.
The T Level Transition Programme Framework for Delivery has guidance on how the programme should be delivered from academic year 2022 onwards.
Every T Level includes an industry placement with an employer focused on developing the practical and technical skills required for the occupation. These will last a minimum of 315 hours (approximately 45 days) but can last longer.
Employers can offer industry placements as a block, day release or a mix of these, and can discuss sharing part of the placement with another employer if necessary.
Providers will support employers offering industry placements. This will include assistance with paperwork, a careful planning process and support with designing the industry placement.
DfE’s employer engagement teams are working with employers of all sizes and providers on industry placements.
Employers interested in finding out more about industry placements can contact 08000 150 600, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the T Levels and industry placement support for employers website.
Grading and certification
Students who complete their T Level will get a nationally recognised certificate which will show their overall grade and a breakdown of what they have achieved.
The T Level certificate will include:
- an overall grade for the T Level, shown as pass, merit, distinction or distinction*
- a separate grade for the core component, using A* to E
- a separate grade for each occupational specialism, shown as pass, merit or distinction
It will also confirm that the student has:
- completed the industry placement
- met any additional mandatory requirements
A student’s overall T Level grade will be worked out from the grades they achieved on the core component and the occupational specialism(s).
Students who do not pass all elements of their T Level will get a T Level statement of achievement which will show the elements they have completed.
If students have attained maths and/or English qualifications at level 2, this will also be referenced on T Level certificates and statements of achievement.
Entry to higher education and UCAS tariff points
T Levels will provide several progression options for students. These include skilled employment, an apprenticeship and higher education.
To help T Level students progress into higher education, UCAS tariff points will be allocated to T Levels.
UCAS points will only be allocated to the overall T Level grade. Students must achieve at least an overall pass grade to receive UCAS points.
|UCAS tariff points||T Level overall grade||A level|
|168||Distinction* (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)||AAA*|
|96||Pass (C or above on the core)||CCC|
|72||Pass (D or E on the core)||DDD|
You can find a list of higher education institutions who have confirmed T Levels are suitable for entry onto one of their courses.
Register to deliver T Levels
Providers can register to deliver T Levels from September 2023.
The closing date for registration is midnight on 29 July 2022. We recommend that providers register as early as possible so they can take advantage of support that will be offered.
Providers can also register to deliver T Levels from September 2024.
Funding for providers
We recognise that significant additional funding will be needed for the successful introduction and delivery of T Levels.
T Levels involve more hours than most current technical qualifications at level 3 and providers will be funded for the extra hours involved and for organising industry placements.
Our guidance T Levels: next steps for providers has more information on how T Levels will be funded.
All T Level providers will receive funding for state-of-the-art specialist equipment and all providers, apart from independent training providers, can bid for funding to refurbish existing facilities or build new buildings. Over £400m has been made available so far for T Levels capital.
You can find more information at T Levels capital fund.
Support for professional development
To ensure that T Levels deliver great outcomes for learners, we are committed to ensuring that teachers and leaders have the support they need to deliver them well. The T Level Professional Development (TLPD) offer, led by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), has been available since May 2019 at no charge to all providers delivering and planning to deliver T Levels.
The offer is shaped around the needs of providers and their workforce alongside relevant regional, employer and curriculum needs.
The 6 key elements of the TLPD offer are:
Training needs analysis (TNA) - organisational TNA helps providers to identify any gaps in organisational knowledge around T Levels. Staff can access an individual TNA to help identify any gaps in their skills and knowledge around T Levels.
Understanding T Levels - courses to help staff in different roles understand T Levels and how they can support their successful introduction.
T Level role and route-specific training - pedagogical and subject-specific courses, and other activities structured to meet an individual’s professional development needs.
Professional development for leaders - courses and mentoring support for staff in leadership roles to help with T Level planning and implementation.
Networks and TRIPs - route-specific networks and T Level resource improvement projects (TRIP) providing opportunities to produce resources for planning and delivering T Levels.
Industry Insights - opportunities for staff to increase and update their knowledge by:
- undertaking placements within industry
- accessing industry-relevant mentoring
- participating in group industry collaboration
- engaging in industry-led workshops
The first T Level courses started in these subject areas:
- design, surveying and planning for construction
- digital production, design and development
- education and childcare
T Level courses started in these subject areas:
- building services engineering for construction
- digital business services
- digital support and services
- healthcare science
- onsite construction
T Level courses will start in these subject areas:
- design and development for engineering and manufacturing
- engineering, manufacturing, processing and control
- maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing
- management and administration
T Level courses will start in these subject areas:
- animal care and management
- agriculture, land management and production
- craft and design
- hair, beauty and aesthetics
- legal services
- media, broadcast and production
Find out more
Visit our T Levels website where you can add your postcode to find colleges, schools or other providers who are offering T Levels. You can also find guidance at the Get the Jump content hub.
Watch our industry placement videos to hear from students and employers who have benefited from industry placements.
To find out more about industry placements, contact 0800 0150 600, email email@example.com or visit the T Levels and industry placement support for employers website.
The T Level action plan has detailed information about how we’re developing the T Level qualifications for post-16 students.
We also have information for providers about the next steps towards delivering T Levels.