NewVIc principal: 'How new T Levels could impact social mobility'

Students at NewVIc college

NewVIc has sent close to 2,000 BTec students to university in the last three years - Credit: New VIc

The current rhetoric about social mobility and levelling up looks to be nothing more than nice words that those in power like to use.

The reality is that they will be lost if we continue to replace the current BTec courses with the "gold standard" T Levels.

Now let me be clear here. Yes, there is a need to reduce the 12,000 vocational qualifications currently available and, yes, I genuinely believe that there is a place for T Levels.

A qualification that provides vocational learning with 45 days of work placement is an excellent model.

Where my view is significantly different from the powers-that-be is when they tell me that A Levels and T Levels will often have similar entry requirements.

NewVIc principal, Mandeep Gill, advised students to work hard to provide teachers with the evidence

NewVIc principal Mandeep Gill on the impact of introducing T Levels - Credit: NewVIc

Those that are making these decisions have often been fortunate enough to be educated in a way that led to studying A Levels and then going onto the best universities. 

Around 250,000 students study BTec Nationals - equivalent to A Levels - with a further 200,000 students studying other BTec qualifications.

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In the last three years at NewVIc, we have sent close to 2,000 BTec students to university, including to some of the best universities in the country.

Students from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to have these qualifications when entering university. Approximately 37 per cent of black students and 25pc of Asian students who entered university did so with BTec qualifications.

An equalities impact assessment concluded that many young people will be adversely affected by this proposal, with disadvantaged students having the most to lose.

So what does this mean for the future when a student doesn’t get enough grades to study an A Level or T Level?

The current BTec option provides a route to continue to study and progress onto bigger things, significantly improving social mobility. If we want to continue to do that, we need to ensure that these same opportunities are available.

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