Post-GCSE Education: What Are T Levels?


In today’s blog, we take a brief look at the newly formulated T Levels for post-GCSE education and break down what T Levels are, what they offer and how they fit in with other existing post-16 and post-GCSE offerings.

What are T Levels?

T Levels are an overhaul of the technical education system in the UK. Philip Hammond announced £500m of extra funding for T Levels, calling the plans ‘radical’ as they aim to put technical education on the same footing as academic studies. The T Level is short for ‘Technical Level’ and they are new technical qualifications for people aged 16 and above and offer a technical alternative to A Levels. T Levels are 2-year courses designed in partnership with employers to give students the skills required to enter a specific industry. The government aims to offer T Levels from 2020 onward, and to be rolled out fully by 2023.

Why the Change?

The Department for Education (DfE) have stated that the current offering of technical qualifications is confusing at present and Philip Hammond has stated that the UK sits close to the bottom of international league tables for technical education. These plans aim to simplify post-16 choices for students who want on-the-job experience while also increasing the quality of technical education overall.

What Will T Levels Offer?

The DfE state that the T Level offers students the following:

  • Practical skills and core knowledge that is relevant to occupations in their chosen industry from the very beginning of the course.
  • An industry placement lasting at least 45 days in their chosen industry
  • English, maths and digital skills relevant to their chosen industry
  • Transferrable workplace skills

The T Level aims to offer classroom/workshop-based learning as well as on-the-job training in the following industries:

  • Digital
  • Construction
  • Education and childcare
  • Engineering and manufacturing
  • Health and science
  • Legal, finance and accounting
  • Hair and beauty
  • Agriculture, environment and animal care
  • Business and administration
  • Catering and hospitality
  • Creative and design

Interestingly, the core component of the T Level is split into two: one aspect covers the technical knowledge and skills required in a particular industry and sounds highly theoretical while the second aspect is an employer-set project that will allow students to apply their theoretical knowledge to a challenge or brief.

How do T Levels Fit in with A Levels and Apprenticeships?

The government has stated that the T Level will sit alongside the A Level and won’t be replacing traditional apprenticeships as an entry point into an industry or career. They will also hold the same equivalency to 3 A Levels. As such, students moving on from T Levels are able to move into a skilled occupation, higher or degree-level apprenticeships or higher-level technical studies or higher education.


In principle, the idea sounds like a positive one: the promised clarity can only be a good thing for young people making tricky choices if the T Levels work as intended. The mixture of theory coupled with real-world on-the-job experiences ought to contextualise learning for individuals who see little to no merit in academia or have a particularly clear career goal in mind already. As usual, it’s a ‘wait and see’ moment as we can’t predict the political landscape of the future but it’s certainly nice to see positive steps being made to bring technical education to the forefront in educational policy.

At Twinkl Secondary, we’ll definitely be keeping a close and keen eye on this to see how we can best support teachers, trainers and practitioners of the T Levels in the future.

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