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Btecs could be scrapped as teachers and students ‘deeply concerned’ by Government ‘defunding’ plan

The i 15/06/2021 Will Hazell

Teachers and students have said they are “deeply concerned” by plans from the Government which could see funding removed for Btec qualifications.

Eleven education organisations – including the UK’s biggest teaching union and the National Union of Students – said the move would “leave many students without a viable pathway at the age of 16”.  

In England, the Department for Education is consulting on plans to introduce a binary system where most students would either take A-levels or the Government’s new T levels qualification at the age of 16. 

As a result, funding for the majority of Btecs and other ‘applied general qualifications’ would be removed. 

In a statement, 11 education organisations – including the National Education Union, the NUS and the Sixth Form Colleges Association – said they were “concerned that moving to a binary system of T levels and A levels will lead to many of the newly-reformed, high quality, applied general qualifications being defunded”. 

They warned that cutting funding for the qualifications “will leave many students without a viable pathway at the age of 16 and will hamper progress to higher education or skilled employment”. 

The statement says that the DfE’s own impact assessment concluded that students from disadvantaged backgrounds “have the most to lose” if the qualifications are defunded. 

“The present implementation timeline is not feasible, particularly given the unfolding impact of the Covid pandemic,” the statement adds. 

Bill Watkin, chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, said: “The Government’s plan to sweep away the majority of applied general qualifications like Btecs will make it harder for many young people to access higher education and harder for many employers to access the skills they need.

“Ministers must protect student choice and guarantee that applied general qualifications have a major role to play in the future”.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that ending the funding would “pull the rug from under the feet of 200,000 young people who benefit each year from taking these proven and established qualifications which provide a great pathway to university courses, training and careers.” 

He added: “It is a hugely unnecessary risk which will hit disadvantaged youngsters hardest.” 

The Government has defended its plans by saying there is currently a “confusing landscape” of over 12,000 courses on offer, with multiple qualifications in the same subject areas available, including many which are “poor quality and offer little value to students or employers”. 

The DfE was contacted for comment. 

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