Review of Post-16 Qualifications at level 3: Second stage consultation closing Friday 15 January

13 January 2021

*STOP PRESS* Consultation deadline extended to 31 January.

The government is consulting on whether level 3 qualifications, other than A Levels and T Levels, should be funded in the future. The proposals could mean qualifications such as BTEC Nationals and UAL Diplomas are no longer funded.

The deadline to respond to the Department for Education’s Review of Post-16 Qualifications at level 3: Second stage consultation is Friday 15 January. You can respond online, and as always do remember you do not need to answer every question.

The full list of questions is included as an appendix in the consultation document and you can choose just to answer questions pertinent to arts education, including questions 9 through 15. You can also raise any issues you feel have not been asked about in your responses to question 26 and 27.

Our response to the consultation

The CLA wants England to have a world class practical and theoretical education system with low value qualifications removed. We believe these proposed reforms risk creating an unhelpful binary pathway between academic and technical routes that does not work for the creative industries, arts and cultural sector, in which many roles require both practical and theoretical knowledge.

We are also concerned that these reforms risk decreasing the number of young people progressing to study creative subjects at degree level, and will have a detrimental impact on the ethnic and economic diversity of the cohorts progressing to university.

The Impact Assessment of the reforms has found students with SEND, people of Asian, African and Caribbean heritage, and students who previously received free school meals (FSM) are more likely to be affected by the proposals. This narrowing of the talent pipeline will limit the ability of our world class creative industries to evolve, continue to grow and to meet the challenges of post-Brexit Britain.

We believe that creative BTEC Nationals qualifications and larger three A Level equivalent qualifications should continue to be funded. They provide a valued and robust practical and theoretical qualification that enables progression on to HE and useful for ensuring more at risk young people access higher education.

Responses from colleagues in Further Education

The feedback from the FE sector and HE sector is that large 3-A-Level equivalent qualifications prepare students well for high-quality HE study and subsequent careers in the creative sector.

Colleagues believe the system is not as broken as the consultation documents suggest. FE Colleges stress that they provide good study and employment destinations, and can supply evidence of their value. Those working in further education have also challenged the logic of 'neatening up' the system when the various types of qualifications support learners with different needs.

Colleagues have significant concerns about the timeline of reforms proposed in the consultation. We do know yet know if the T Levels will deliver the outcomes young people need and the government want. Abolishing existing successful arts qualifications without tested new ones in place is risky, especially during a pandemic when young people are already being adversely affected.

Some colleagues have pointed out that a large proportion of jobs in the creative industries sector will either be for micro and SMEs, or the self-employed. In those environments people need the nimble and self-teaching cognitive skills of graduates, with specific methods, practices and sector knowledge. Qualifications that support a wider range of students to progress on to degrees, such as BTECs and UAL Diplomas, are helpful in this environment.

You can also read what Pearson, the awarding body for BTECs, has written about the consultation.

Respond to the consultation online by Friday 15 September.

Every response helps inform the decisions that are made. The Department for Education is interested in hearing from employers, students and parents as well as those working in education. Please remember that your view does count even if you are not an expert in the area.


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