Further measures announced to boost quality of post-16 qualifications

Young people in education

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has today (22 July) made further interventions to make sure young people can access high-quality education after they have completed their GCSEs.

From 2020, A Levels, T Levels and apprenticeships will be the gold standard option for young people after they take their GCSEs, but if a student chooses another qualification the Government wants to make sure they are as high-quality and will set them on a clear path to a job, further education or training.

In March the Government announced proposals to only fund qualifications at Level 3 and below – excluding A Levels and GCSEs – that are high-quality, are necessary, have a clear purpose, and lead to good outcomes.

Damian Hinds has announced two further measures to support the Government’s ongoing review of qualifications at Level 3 and below, by:

  • removing funding for more than 160 duplicate qualifications from August 2020, ensuring that students take the newer, more rigorous versions
  • stopping any new qualification at Level 3 and below from getting approval for funding from 2020, to avoid adding to the already confusing and complicated system of over 12,000 qualifications already available at these levels

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

We want young people to be confident that whatever option they choose after their GCSEs will be high-quality, valued by employers and will lead to a good, well-paid job. This is at the heart of everything we are doing to reform technical and vocational education in this country.

I have previously said you cannot legislate for parity of esteem between technical and academic education – you’ve got to ensure high standards, then the esteem will come. Our unrelenting focus on improving the quality of the qualifications available is key to this.

The current system is confusing and complicated, with more than 12,000 qualifications available at Level 3 and below. We are reviewing qualifications to boost the quality of the options out there so more students and parents will trust them.

The first part of a two-stage consultation reviewing qualifications at Level 3 and below was launched on 19 March and ran for 12 weeks. It asked for views on:

  • only providing public funding for qualifications that meet key criteria on quality, purpose, necessity and progression
  • not providing public funding for qualifications for 16 to 19-year-olds that overlap with T Levels or A Levels

Analysis published by the Department for Education has highlighted a confusing landscape of over 12,000 courses on offer to young people at Level 3 and below, with multiple qualifications in the same subject areas available – many of which are poor quality and offering little value to students or employers.

The response to the first consultation will be published alongside the launch of the second consultation, which will set out more detailed proposals for change, including the criteria that will be used to determine whether a qualification will be approved for public funding.

The Government is currently reviewing the qualifications available at Level 3 and below, as well as Level 4 and 5 qualifications, to make sure they are high quality and provide young people with the skills and knowledge they need to progress further in education, training or get a well-paid job.

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