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Government announces funds to help teachers prepare for T-levels

The government will provide £8m to help train teachers for the introduction of new technical T-level qualifications

The government has announced it will be funding a professional development programme for teachers ahead of the roll-out of technical T-level qualifications.

The £8m of funding will be used to give teachers and other staff the skills and knowledge needed to deliver the new technical A-level equivalent due to be available in 2020, one of which will be focused on careers in digital.

Dubbed the T-level Professional Development Programme, the training developed by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) will help teachers understand what the new qualifications will involve, as well as industry knowledge to help them deliver relevant skills.

Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton said the introduction of T-levels is an “important change” that teachers need to be prepared for.

“T-levels will widen the choices for young people, offering them more than one route to a rewarding career,” she said. “T-level will equip young people with the knowledge and skills for further study in education or in the workplace. This new programme will help teachers to build on their skills and gain the additional knowledge they need to make new T-levels a success as soon as the starting pistol is fired.”

The government announced its plans to introduce T-level courses in October 2017, claiming these technical-focused qualifications will aim to fill the technical skills gap in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. The first courses in education and childcare, construction and digital are set to be taught by more than education providers and schools from September 2020, with 22 more subjects at this level to be introduced in 2021.

The qualifications are designed to lay out a clear career path in occupations related to each qualification by breaking the subjects down into a number of specialisms relevant to their chosen careers – many believe alternatives to university, such as apprenticeships or vocational style qualifications could be a more appropriate path into the science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) sectors.

As well as ETF, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and other organisations in the further education industry will help to identify what skills will be needed to deliver T-levels and help impart these to teachers.

Jenifer Burden, director of programmes at the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, said the not-for-profit would be focused on shaping “professional development offered to T-level teachers, including building subject-specialist pedagogy”.

The ETF will be responsible for working with each provider to work out what training needs they have, creating individual training packages based on the expertise already existing in these bodies.

In recent years, the government has struggled to meet its target for recruiting computing teachers, and many believe there is not enough support for teachers who are teaching Stem subjects, with most feeling they do not have the skills needed to teach concepts such as coding.

There is also a concern that the technology industry is so broad, it is difficult for teachers to fully understand what roles exist in the sector or what these roles will involve. T-level teacher training will be available from Spring 2019.

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