What are T-levels?

As the chaos around the publication of this summer’s exam results fades, the ongoing effects of the pandemic are causing changes in education – Open Days in our local Sixth Forms and Colleges are taking on a different feel as virtual experiences, and the number of apprenticeships available for school leavers has been affected by the economic downturn.

You may not have had a chance to start thinking about your child’s options, or you may be wondering where to start your research? Well, in fact, there is a new option for 16-year-olds – T-levels.

T-levels are two-year technical courses that provide an alternative to A-levels and other Level 3 options, like BTECs or apprenticeships. And we are set to see a lot more of these on offer across Greater Manchester in the years ahead.

Designed in collaboration with employers, T-levels are offered across a range of subjects and aim to plug some of the skills shortages that England faces – something that has never been more important in the COVID climate.

They blend classroom learning (80%) with on-the-job experience (20%), with a guaranteed industry placement of around 45 days. Equivalent to 3 A-levels, they will provide the knowledge and experience needed for skilled employment.

On completion, T-levels will support applications for university courses and other higher education pathways, such as higher and degree apprenticeships.

Generally, those wanting to study T-levels will need to achieve a minimum of 5 GCSE passes, including maths and English. However, there is an intention to create bridging courses – an additional year of study for those who narrowly fail to meet that benchmark.

The very first cohort of T-level students in Greater Manchester started a course in Digital Production, Design, and Development in September 2020. A further nine T-level subjects become available from September 2021.

By September 2023, it is expected that 25 different T-level subjects will be available across the region.

Like A-levels, there are no tuition fees to study a T-level, as long as they are started before the age of 19.

As with all decisions around what to study, it pays to look closely at the detail and compare it with the alternatives. But this is an option that should not be overlooked, especially if your child already has an inkling around their choice of career path.

Want to find out more?

This website will give you the chance to delve deeper into the detail and find out which Colleges and Sixth Forms across Greater Manchester will be offering T-level subjects for a September 2021 start.


Written by Ian McGarry, GM Higher Information, Advice and Guidance Manager

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