Ben Bradley MP is one of 118 MPs and peers that has written to the recently-appointed Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, urging him to make an “early reassessment” of the Department for Education’s plan to remove funding for the vast majority of applied general qualifications such as BTECs.
As a Further Education Ambassador, this is a topic that Ben feels particularly strongly about. He has argued in support of BTECs, stating that they are vital to help young people progress in areas like Mansfield and Warsop.
The letter was sent to support the #ProtectStudentChoice campaign, a coalition of 21 organisations that represent and support students and staff in schools, colleges and universities.
In July, the Department confirmed plans to introduce a twin-track system of A levels and T levels (a new suite of technical qualifications), where most young people pursue one of these qualifications at the age of 16. As a result, funding for most BTEC qualifications will be removed.
In their letter to the Education Secretary, the MPs and peers say this new system “will leave many students without a viable pathway after their GCSEs, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds” and report concerns from the education sector that “removing the vast majority of BTECs will lead to students taking courses that do not meet their needs, or dropping out of education altogether”.
The parliamentarians welcome the introduction of T levels but say that “it is not necessary to remove applied general qualifications to make T levels a success” and that it is “perfectly possible for both to co-exist with A levels in the future qualifications landscape”.
Under current proposals, larger BTEC qualifications (equivalent in size to 2 or 3 A levels) will be scrapped if the government deems they “overlap” with A levels or T levels. But the MPs and peers call for the option to study BTECs to be retained as they “are a different type of qualification that provide a different type of educational experience - one that combines the development of skills with academic learning”.
The letter concludes by urging the Secretary of State to “recalibrate” plans to move to a two-route model of A levels and T levels and asks for an assurance that “students will continue to have the choice to study a wide range of applied general qualifications in the future”.
Commenting, Ben Bradley MP said:
“This is a topic that I’m really passionate about and I’m keen to do everything I can to ensure young people can still access applied general qualifications. Employers respect qualifications like BTECs and view them as something worth having, and I know that they open up opportunities for kids across Mansfield and Warsop. Without them, there are many kids that would be left with nowhere to go.
“I’m using my role as Further Education Ambassador to repeatedly make the point that we shouldn’t push every young person down an academic path. Not everyone is academic, nor should we want them to be! Applied general qualifications give kids in communities like mine the chance to learn new skills and then progress in their careers. If Government is truly committed to levelling up then it’s vital that they aren’t scrapped because they’re incredibly valuable to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.”