New T-levels introduced at Black Country colleges in course shake-up

The first T-level exam courses – described as the greatest shake-up of technical education for 70 years – will be introduced at four schools and colleges in the Black Country.

The courses will be held at, top, Sandwell College and, bottom, Dudley and Walsall colleges
The courses will be held at, top, Sandwell College and, bottom, Dudley and Walsall colleges

The T-levels, which are technical qualifications at A-level standard, will be taught at Dudley College of Technology, Sandwell Academy, Walsall College and Walsall Studio School.

They are among just 10 further education providers across the Midlands chosen to taken part in the scheme which was part of Prime Minister Theresa May's general election manifesto.

Across the country, 52 schools and colleges have been named as the first T-level providers. The first three subjects will be construction, digital, and education and childcare, which will be taught from September 2020.

A further 22 courses being rolled out in stages from 2021, with courses covering sectors such as finance and accounting, engineering and manufacturing, and creative and design.

Dan Parkes, principal of Walsall Studio School, said: "We are thrilled to be pioneering excellence in the field of technical education as we further develop qualifications that employers value and real-world experiences for students that prepare them for the world of work.”

Neil Thomas, principal of Dudley College of Technology said: "We are excited about the impact that T-levels will have in the future. Colleges have an important role to play in supporting the productivity of the regions they serve by providing the technically skilled workforce needed by local employers.

"We look forward to working with partners to introduce these qualifications and further strengthen the links between education and industry.”

The course content will be created by panels of employers with a three-month compulsory industry placements. Standards will be checked by Ofqual and the Institute for Apprenticeships.

A consultation on the T-level scheme sought views from across the world of business and education, as well as young people themselves. Leading employers including Lloyds, IBM, and Siemens, all responded underlining their strong support for new T Levels.

The new qualification is part of a wider programme to transform technical education. Alongside T-Levels and the introduction of more high-quality apprenticeships, a network of Institutes of Technology (IoTs) will be introduced across the country, offering top-quality training and apprenticeships in higher-level technical skills – A level equivalent up to degree level and above – helping to bridge a skills gap in areas like advanced manufacturing, infrastructure and digital.

The Government took another step towards establishing IoTs this week by announcing the proposals that will now move to the final stage of the Government’s competition. This includes proposals for the West Midlands from North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, Solihull College and Dudley College of Technology.

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