Perceptions of quality and the shaping or misshaping of vocational education: the case of T level qualifications in England

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T level technical qualifications for 16–19-year-old students (International Standard Classification of Education level 3) were introduced in England in 2020. Ten T levels are currently available and more are planned, each one corresponding to a specific occupational area. The claim that T levels are high qual¬ity is central to their introduction and politicians have repeat¬edly described them as “gold standard”. That claim of quality is associated with T levels being developed “in collaboration with employers and businesses”; and quality is also linked to the form of their final assessment. Significantly, the quality of T levels is also associated with their stated equivalence to A levels, which are long established academic qualifications. This paper draws on interviews with T level teachers to examine these perceptions of quality and how they have influenced the design and deliv¬ery of T levels, leading to some divergence from their technical focus. We conclude by arguing that beyond a rhetoric of skills and employment, perceptions of quality in English vocational education and training (VET) including T levels, reflect the val¬ues of society, especially the primacy of academic and universi¬ty-based education, and that consequently T levels will struggle to gain favour among young people or wider society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLearning, teaching and policy making in VET
Subtitle of host publicationEmerging Issues in Research on Vocational Education & Training
EditorsLázaro Moreno Herrera, Marianne Teräs , Petros Gougoulakis, Janne Kontio
Place of PublicationStockholm
PublisherAtlas Akademi
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)9789174450514
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023
Event8th Stockholm International Conference of Research on Vocational Education and Training - Viking Line, Ship M/S Gabriella, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 11 May 202213 May 2022
Conference number: 8

Publication series

NameEmerging Issues in Research on Vocational Education & Training
PublisherAtlas Akademi


Conference8th Stockholm International Conference of Research on Vocational Education and Training
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