Westminster Education Forum

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Next steps for the reform of level 3 qualifications - policy priorities, system design and implementation, adapting to the new offer, and supporting progression and attainment for all students

May 2023

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

This conference examined the future of the level 3 qualifications system.

It was an opportunity to discuss preparations for the delivery of a new suite of qualifications to sit alongside A Levels, T Levels and apprenticeships, following publication of the DfE’s Guide to the post-16 qualifications landscape at level 3 and below for 2025 and beyond, which contains information on approval cycles and future funding for level 3 alternative academic and technical qualifications.

The conference also took place with IfATE expected to publish their Big Conversation report during summer 2023, which will examine the breadth of the skills system, and the extent to which it supports national priorities and individual progression.

Stakeholders and policymakers assessed reforms to the approval process for alternative academic and technical qualifications in light of submissions from the awarding bodies, evaluating whether the changes effectively meet the needs of the labour market and help students develop the skills required for the future.

Delegates also looked at the alignment of ongoing level 3 reforms with the wider qualifications landscape, including at level 2.

They discussed the impact of these reforms on students - particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and what may be needed to provide clarity on the range of options available from 2025, including for adult learners and those with additional needs.

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote contributions from Louise Wright, Deputy Director, Technical Education and Qualifications Reform, Department for Education; and Karl Anderson, Head of Level 2 and 3 Policy, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

Sessions in the agenda focused on:

  • qualification reform at level 3: policy priorities for delivery of reforms - implementing an integrated regulatory process - outlining progression criteria - adapting to new approval processes
  • rollout: next steps for implementing level 3 reforms - evaluating system funding and capacity - helping providers adapt to reform - assessing timelines for delivery
  • regulation: assessing quality and progression criteria - simplifying funding approval cycles - minimising overlap with A levels and T Levels - implementing an integrated approvals process
  • qualification design:
    • aligning reform with the wider qualifications landscape
    • provision of varied options - a blended approach to academic and technical qualifications
    • best practice in instilling quality and standards
  • adapting to reform: clarity on student options - support for providers and awarding bodies - provision for mature students and individuals with additional needs - preparation for delivery in 2025
  • progression routes:
    • the role of reformed Alternative Academic Qualifications (AAQs) and technical qualifications in preparation for higher education and skilled employment
    • opportunities for employer partnerships - implementing guidance on post-qualification pathways
  • labour market: providing clarity and meeting the needs of employers - aligning reform with local and national skills gaps - latest thinking on the role of employers in the skills system

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from the DBT; Department for the Economy, NI; DfE; Department of Education, NI; DESNZ; DWP; HMPPS; IfATE; MOJ; Ofcom; and the Welsh Government.

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles