Too many schools closing doors to colleges offering vocational courses like T-levels, minister warns

Too many schools are closing their doors to colleges offering alternative vocational courses including the government's flagship qualification, a minister has warned ahead of its roll-out this year.

Lord Agnew has written to all schools in England calling for them to urgently give access to organisations pushing alternatives to A-levels so that teenagers can make the right choices for them. 

 

The intervention comes after colleges have raised concerns about their ability to promote T-levels to young people in schools where leaders do not want to lose potential A-level students.

 
 

Ministers have been pushing for teenagers to choose to study two-year T-levels – which are intended to have an equal status to A-levels – ahead of the first courses being introduced in September. 

 

Lord Agnew, the school systems minister, has said students are “too often” unaware of all the options, adding that it is “more important than ever” that heads allow them to speak to colleges. 

But a number of schools have been flouting their legal duty under the Baker clause as holding onto pupils, and the funding that comes with them, is prioritised amid budget pressures, sector leaders say. 

In the letter to schools, Lord Agnew says: “Too many young people are still not given the chance to learn of different environments open to them and find out if technical education is right for them. 

 

“I urge you to take action this term to open your doors to University Technical Colleges, FE colleges, apprenticeship providers and new Institutes of Technology. Now is the crucial moment when so many young people are thinking about their options for September. 

“I recognise it can be challenging, particularly when schools have their own post-16 offer. But we all have a responsibility to support young people to make choices based on their skills, interests and aspirations.”