T time for B&FC students and the education secretary

Published on 08/03/2021 by DTHACK

Senior government officials including the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, invited Blackpool and The Fylde College students to discuss a brand new further education qualification. 

Education and childcare students Katie Albert and Jess Burrell were among the first in the UK on the T Level qualification, supporting learners to achieve their career ambitions and stand out from the crowd by including work-based learning and an extended industry placement. 

Katie and Jess joined Mr Williamson and Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, on a virtual roundtable to discuss their T Level experiences and hopes for the future. 

Jess explained: "It was great chatting to other students doing T Levels and it was useful being able to share my thoughts with Gavin Williamson."

During the Microsoft Teams call Mr Williamson revealed he grew up on Norbreck Avenue and that "Blackpool is one of my favourite places in the UK."

Fast track to career success

Jess added: "When I first heard about T Levels the first thought that popped into my head was it being equivalent to 3 A-levels. 

"I then found out it was a very practical course that would help me gain lots of professional skills and included an extended placement. 

"Not only would I come away with a great qualification, I would also gain skills on the course that many people would have to learn after starting their job."

Jess started her T Level in September 2020– the first time this qualification had been offered. “I expected the T Level was going to take a lot of time and work - but it’s all nicely balanced out and everyone is really supportive. 

"There hasn’t been a time where I’ve not had help if I’ve needed it."

Jess is now preparing for her extended T Level placement at a local school. "I'm really looking forward to meeting teachers and working with the children," she said. 

Becoming a teacher has been Jess' lifelong dream. "I loved being in school and seeing how much a teacher could impact someone’s life. That inspired me to want to do the same and now I want to go to university and achieve that ambition." 

Jess had some useful advice for students considering T Levels. "You have nothing to lose - and everything to gain. I have been given so many opportunities I don’t think I could of got from any other course. It’s equivalent to 3 A Levels and you get career experience - it couldn’t be better." 

You can watch highlights of the virtual roundtable below.

What are T Levels? 

T Levels were launched in September 2020 and designed with industry to create the next generation of business leaders. 

B&FC is the north west’s only college to offer the first three T Levels – in construction, education and childcare, and digital. 

One T Level is equivalent to 3 A Levels and provides UCAS points for university admission. T Levels are all about careers and employability, including a guaranteed industry placement and immersing the student in college spaces replicating the working environment. 

Another major advantage of T Levels is skills acquired on the course, which are typically only gained once they’ve been hired. This gives T Level students an advantage over peers when competing for jobs. 

Employers have shown great interest in T Levels since curricula are geared towards their success. B&FC expects many of its first T Level cohort finishing in July 2022 will be offered the chance to learn while they earn on higher and degree apprenticeships. 

The portfolio of T Level courses will grow significantly over the next couple of years. Students leaving school this summer can also choose from health and science T Levels and an expanded range of digital and construction courses. In September 2022, T Level students will also be able to select business and engineering courses. 

And in 2023 there will be about 25 T Levels available in subjects ranging from hair and beauty to human resources. 

T Level students will need 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including English and Maths.

Those who have narrowly missed the grades but are passionate about career routes will be offered the chance to level up on transition programmes. 

Learn more about T Levels at Blackpool and The Fylde College.