T levels still a work in progress

Today Ofsted has published the final thematic review report on T levels and the T Level Transition Programme (TLTP)

This found that confidence in teaching is on the rise, but some confusion remains among learners and employers.

The review was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to assess the early implementation of the new qualifications and follows on from Ofsted’s interim report released in October 2022.

The review shows that when T level learners receive high-quality information, advice, and guidance from experienced teachers, they are more likely to achieve good results and less likely to drop out. However, the initial assessment of students’ abilities at the start of their courses is often weak.

Read the ‘T-level thematic review: final report’.

The practical aspects of courses are generally taught well but teachers often struggle to teach theoretical content in sufficient depth. The quality of industry placements still varies considerably across individual providers and courses, with employers often being poorly informed about the content and structure of T levels.

Since our last report, the TLTP curriculum has generally improved with many providers showing good enrolment figures, but a large number of students are still not pursuing a T level course when they complete the programme.

Ofsted has issued several recommendations for providers including:

  • ensuring that students receive accurate information about T-level courses and the TLTP so they can make informed choices before they enrol
  • working more closely and collaboratively with employers to ensure that industry placements and work experience opportunities are more tailored to the courses
  • collaborating with other providers to share resources and best practice to further improve the quality and effectiveness of the curriculum, teaching and the assessment of T-level courses and the TLTP

Ofsted will inspect T levels as part of their regular inspections from September 2023.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said:

"As with many new qualifications, there are some teething issues with T levels, but in most cases providers and employers seem to be working well together to address them. However, we saw a range of shortcomings which providers and the Department for Education will want to address.

"When done well, they can be a strong option for learners who prefer a vocational route through education as a path to their intended career."