‘Less than half’ of Btecs could see funding cut, says Zahawi

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi reassured peers that the decision to reduce the number of applied general qualifications would leave “no young person… without a clear and high-quality progression route”

Fewer than half of all applied general qualifications will lose funding when the government completes its reforms to level 3 qualifications, a letter from the education secretary has confirmed.  

According to the government note from Nadhim Zahawi to the House of Lords, “significantly less than half” of applied general qualifications, such as Btecs, will be subject to funding cuts. 

“We have set out the three tests that we are using to determine overlap with T-Levels, and we will publish the provisional list of qualifications that overlap with wave 1 and 2 T-levels in due course,” wrote Zahawi.

“It may be reassuring to know through this process we expect to remove just a small proportion of the total level 3 Btec and other applied general style qualification offer – significantly less than half.”

The Department for Education is seeking to simplify the level 3 landscape, making T-levels the predominant technical qualification from 2024. In July 2021, ministers announced plans to cut funding from post-16 courses, such as many Btecs, that are of “poor quality” or duplicate skills or content provided in apprenticeships, T-Levels, and A-levels, which “will become the main progression options after GCSEs”. The policy was set to begin in 2023 and finish by 2025, offering what ministers promise will be “clearer qualification and training routes” after key stage four. It was confirmed in November that the withdrawal of funding will now start in 2024.

We are not creating a binary system. Our aim is to ensure that students can choose from a variety of high-quality options
Nadhim Zahawi, education secretary

However, the policy sparked opposition. Former education secretary David Blunkett tabled an amendment to the skills and post-16 education bill, currently progressing through the House of Lords, that would prevent the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) from withdrawing funding for level 3 qualifications for at least three years – protecting Btecs until 2025.

Zahawi sought to quell concerns. “I want to reassure your Lordships that no young person will be left without a clear and high-quality progression route,” adding: “We are not creating a binary system. Our aim is to ensure that students can choose from a variety of high-quality options, of which T Levels, A levels, Btecs and other applied general style qualifications will play their part.”

Lord Blunkett told peers the minister’s reassurances showed “real progress”. 

Specifically, the letter spelt out details of the funding cut criteria. “Many currently have low numbers of enrolments (or none at all) and are not needed and some will not meet our new quality criteria. For instance, we will remove approval from around 1,800 qualifications because they have low/no enrolments (including around 40 Btecs) – made up of c.400 with low enrolments and c.1400 with no enrolments,” the letter said.

The list of qualifications to be defunded has not yet been published. An appeals process for awarding bodies would be established, a DfE minister confirmed to the House of Lords. 

Read more: Build relationships with schools to improve pupil outcomes, HE leaders told

Leave a Reply

Free live webinar & QA

Blended learning – Did we forget about the students?

Free Education Webinar with Class

Wednesday, June 15, 11AM London BST

Join our expert panel as we look at what blended learning means in 2022 and how universities can meet the needs of ever more diverse student expectations.

Send an Invite...

Would you like to share this event with your friends and colleagues?