HMC response to the review of post-16 qualifications at Level 3 and below in England

11 April 2019
Posted by HMC Press Office

Responding to the DfE consultation on the future funding of BTECs, HMC Executive Director, Mike Buchanan said:

“We have concerns about the risk to the future of BTECs as part of the mix of qualifications available to young people alongside A Levels and, in the future, T Levels.

“More than one in five HMC schools offer one or more BTEC subjects. Exercising independence of choice about qualifications that best suit the needs of the children and young people in their care is at the centre of HMC schools.

Level 3 courses such as BTECs prepare pupils for life beyond school, on whatever path that takes them.  Very few jobs are neatly and purely either ‘technical’ or ‘academic’ and the BTEC qualifications provide a pathway to those jobs and for those pupils who do not fall neatly into either category and those who are not yet ready to make choices for employment that will stay with them for a lifetime.

“Many useful skills, as well as valuable knowledge, are built up by BTEC programmes and the education system should not force a dichotomised choice between ‘academic’ and ‘technical’.

“For pupils who do not want a purely academic route and T levels are too specialist, BTEC courses provide an opportunity in which pupils learn these valuable skills and knowledge, and which make them useful members of society, as well as assets to businesses in particular, and the economy in general.

“Some T levels require access to specific types of industry for placements, which is not always geographically available.  Few HMC schools are likely to offer T Levels.

The careers landscape is packed with jobs undertaken by those who are able to understand the sector in which they work, can marshal resources, and make appropriate decisions, but who would not need to be intellectually especially able, nor be required to undertake the technical elements of jobs within it.

“Removal of funding from BTECs will minimise opportunities for the whole range of pupils in post-16 education and the ability of schools to provide an appropriate education for their students.

“To use enrolment as a proxy for quality as the DfE is proposing is misguided. Quality should be the measure, not enrolment.”