A celebration of T Levels: one year on

Launched in 2020, T Levels were designed in collaboration with employers and businesses to meet the needs of industry and prepare students for work, further training, or study. Many providers have now completed their first year of delivery, with more getting ready to begin their T Level journeys from September 2021.

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has been supporting staff through the T Level Professional Development (TLPD) offer, by providing them with the teaching skills, subject knowledge and confidence they need for successful T Level delivery. In this blog, we hear from some of our Area Relationship and Development Leads (ARDLs) as well as further education staff and learners about the first year of T Levels, and why there is so much to celebrate.


Punam Khosla, ARDL (North) writes:

“The first year of T Level delivery has provided some wonderful opportunities for learners to engage with more practical learning, both within the college setting and with employers. This has enhanced the employability skills of learners and provided them with current industry knowledge and confidence, preparing them for the real world of work and progression opportunities.

The ETF’s TLPD offer has been instrumental in supporting providers with the delivery of T Levels. Providers have engaged with training and developmental opportunities to meet both organisational and individual needs at all different levels. From business support staff to teaching staff and managers to governors, the TLPD offer provides professional development opportunities for various roles within an organisation.

Providers have engaged with many aspects of the offer, ranging from online courses to in-house training for Understanding T Levels, the New Teacher Programme and Teaching T Levels to name but a few. The Mentoring programme has been very beneficial and has given sector colleagues the opportunity to reflect on their professional practice whilst being supported by a mentor. Accessing the route specific Networks has given providers great collaboration opportunities to share effective practice with other providers nationally.   

ARDLs have worked together with providers to determine any emerging development priorities as they deliver T Levels, and this has also provided peer mentoring opportunities for colleagues where needed. The ETF’s Professional Development Platform, which hosts CPD, networks, and wider resources, has been designed to be user-friendly and accessible, and providers can dip in and out to get support they need.”


Rosemarie D’Ambrosio-Winter, ARDL (South West), states:

“I am very proud to be the ARDL for the South West, with six South West Wave 1 providers now confidently striding into their second year. The academic year 2020/21 saw most providers completing their T Level TAGS, assessments for the Core, Employer Set Project and securing industry placements for their learners under the most restrictive of conditions; whilst planning new builds and looking towards 2021 delivery and recruitment.

Despite delivering in a year like no other, Wave 1 providers have continued to be generous in sharing their time, experiences, and expertise. During the last academic year they openly contributed to networks, appeared at national and regional events, contributed to and delivered TLPD course material, and collaborated with and supported Wave 2 colleagues.

The second year of the 2020 roll out sees Wave 1 providers tackling their chosen specialisms and associated assessments, with learners looking to complete their industry placements. This academic year also sees the launch and delivery of the newly released T Levels such as Health and Science, Onsite Construction, and additional Digital T Levels, plus planning for 2022 delivery. Thank you to all of the South West providers – you know who you are.”


T Level providers give feedback on their first year of delivery:

Matt Reynolds, Vice Principal of Teaching, Learning and Development at Cirencester College: “T Levels have been liberating qualifications to teach. Both teachers and learners have found that teaching around experiences, case studies, and having a really close connection with employers, has worked really well.”

Louise Rowley, Vice Principal at Bridgwater and Taunton College: “We’ve had all three initial T Levels running, which was a really positive experience for the students and they’ve learnt an awful lot. I think what we’ve seen is how ambitious the T Levels are in terms of the knowledge and the curriculum, so they’ve made great progress over the year.”

Chris Holmes, Teacher of Computing at Runshaw College: “During the first year of T Levels I have been able to use my years of experience in industry and link this into various parts of the curriculum. Having this experience has assisted me in being able to prepare the T Level cohort for a career in software engineering. I’ve been impressed at how well the curriculum lends itself to the practices that occur in industry, from planning out a software development project to creating and performing tests on programs to make sure they meet specifications.”


Education and Childcare T Level learners at Strode College tell us what they’ve enjoyed about their course so far:

Education and Childcare students in class

“A T Level is a brilliant option to take after school as it has a mixture of both practical work and written work, which is perfect for all different types of students. The course requires determination and hard work, if you put in the effort your grades will reflect this”.

‘I enjoy the T Level course. You learn about essential procedures, create PowerPoint presentations, simulate actual teaching, make activity plans, and have placements where you work with children.”

“T Levels provide you with an equal mixture of practical and theory work. You have many opportunities to see if this course is what you want to do as a career, such as the practical work within the class as well as the placements you get to go on outside of college.”

Throughout this first year of T Level delivery, many providers have contributed to our TLPD blog; giving advice to other providers delivering T Levels, demonstrating how the ETF’s TLPD offer has supported them, and showing why these new qualifications are a great option for post-16 learners. We look forward to another successful year of delivery and continue to support staff on their T Level journeys.


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