James in the Education Select Committee
James in the Education Select Committee

Bury North MP James Frith has voiced serious concerns about the Government’s ability to deliver the first wave of T-Levels – new two-year technical qualifications set to be introduced in 2020 for 16-year olds – echoing the concerns of industry bodies and leading education organisations.

At a recent meeting of Parliament’s Education Select Committee, James challenged the Secretary of State on his Government’s ability to deliver the new qualifications in time.

In a highly unusual move this month, the civil servant who leads the Department of Education published a Ministerial Direction – a public declaration that officials do not believe a Government Minister’s policy is deliverable under normal circumstances – which requires the Minister to publicly acknowledge the concerns of civil servants before proceeding with a policy.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), which represents the construction industry, has warned that completion of a construction T-Level does not mean that a young person will be qualified to work in the construction industry. In a statement, the FMB said that the Government “must be realistic about how much can be achieved in two years of largely college-based learning”.

James said:

“The Government is playing fast and loose with our children’s futures. Their chaotic approach to the design and rollout of T-Levels is astonishing. A qualification that celebrates technical skills and a readiness for work is welcome, but at a time when they should be outlining details and clarity for schools, colleges, teachers and most of all students – who will be asked to take these new qualifications 18 months from now – the Government has nothing more to offer than ‘Watch this space’. The Government need to get a grip and listen to the concerns of MPs, civil servants and industry bodies.”

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