L last night the combined opposition - and some conservatives - passed an amendment in the House ofes Lords in an attempt to prevent the government from suppressing most of the technical skills available in this country. These degrees were obtained by over a quarter of a million students last year.
This question is part of 'a little-known government policy skills and the post-16 education bill . Although not on the in the face of the bill , the slaughter was to be implemented in what he describes as a 'hard stop' in funding the existing range of national BTec degrees for specialist vocational qualifications . Unfortunately, last night's effort to protect existing high professional qualifications resulted in a tie, so the amendurance of former Conservative Education Minister David Willetts fell to the last hurdle.
The policy was announced by the Department of Education in a series of documents released on July 14 - the very week before schools closed for the summer holidays (a good time to bury bad news, if any). These documents contained the "definancing" policy of most BTecs and diplomas from August 2023 and August 2024, in order to ensure that they did not conflict with the new T levels, for professional qualification cations.
This is a revolutionary policy, and it is a scandal that it is not in the face of the bill: as secondary legislation of a government billl wider, which means that it 's very difficult to debate, modify or delete. In our combined years in Parliament (84 years), none of us have experienced such an outrageous constitutional act from a government. We want to send a very strong message to the Commons to expose this policy.
The five documents released on July 14 were the government's response to the consultation it had launched. in January - at least he had the decency to admit that 86% of respondents opposed his policy. So much for a government that listens. This utter failure of accountability or serious engagement with parliament is breathtaking. We want to save the government from itself - and the young people from the disastrous journey they are on.
We are not against the T-lsevels: they can be very good qualifications for some students wanting professional training. equivalent to A-levels, but it is important to understand that these new courses are only 25% practical and 75% academic. This means that they are suitable for students with the best grades of GCSE: 6-9. They would be beyond the reach of students with lower grades, who are currently taking a broad and highly relevant job-oriented BTec.
Last year, less than 1,300 students started studying for a T level and we won't know their results until August of next year. We don't know how many started a T level last month, or how many managed to get the 45 days of work experience every student should have, but the numbers surely won't be.significant. What we do know is that last year 250,000 young people obtained a national BTec diploma, which prepared them for the world of work, or a transition to an appropriate university course.
The amendment passed yesterday in the House of Lords said there should be no funding for technical skills for four years. This would allow time to judge whether the T levels have become integrated and whether the students like to follow them; if employers want them; and whether universities regard them as suitable qualifications for college entrance.
The July papers attempted to measure the impact of these changes and revealed that students who traditionally take Advanced General Qualifications (AGQ) and Joint Programs (BTec)tend to have achieved lower GCSE scores than their peers who progress to A-level studies (i.e. disadvantaged students). They are also more likely to be Black, Asian, and minority students, to have data SEND , or have received free school meals.
The documents also mention these proposals could lead to students with disabilities" being more strongly negatively impacted by their inability to reach level 3 in the reformed landscape ". Well, if this is the future landscape for young people, let's abandon it now. None of us have ever seen any new policy impact document admitting that black, Asian, minority students, free school meals, and students with disabilities will get away with it.ns fine.
Because all this policy is being introduced on the sly - by not putting it in the bill - most people don't. have not heard of or do not know about its disastrous impact on students. So we send a special message to the data House of Commons when it receives this bill: we need it scrutinized and examined in detail, and most importantly, that its unacceptable enormities be removed, before the great advantages of technical skills are definitely damaged.
- David Blunkett is Member of the House of Lords, former Labor MP and former Education Secretary. Kenneth Baker is a member of the House of Lords, former Conservative MP and former secretary for education.n