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LABOUR’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner condemned government plans to introduce new “T-level” technical qualifications today as being nothing but “meaningless spin.”
Vocational qualifications, intended to have an equal status to A-levels, in construction, childcare and various digital and online vocations will be on offer to students in England from September 2020.
Further courses covering sectors from finance, accounting, engineering and manufacturing will be introduced in stages.
Education Secretary Damien Hinds said on the Andrew Marr show this morning that “T levels represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform technical education in this country so we can rival the world’s best-performing systems.”
The government has signalled that the courses will be shaped by businesses, in tandem with the Department for Education (DfE).
The plan has met condemnation and suspicion from across the political spectrum.
Prominent writer and musician Akala led the attack on the new scheme on Peston on Sunday, saying that the T-level plan is little more than a scheme to attack social mobility and give state-educated children “working-class jobs.”
Similarly, Professor Alan Smithers of the University of Buckingham expressed his concerns, saying that parents should be “wary” of “encouraging their children to take [T levels].
“It must be absolutely clear they will be of value to employers before kids risk their futures.”
Even bosses’ organisation the Confederation of British Industry has expressed concerns that the courses, which are intended to make British workers as skilled as continental workers, have been rushed through and will lead to catastrophe.
Labour’s Ms Rayner blasted the plan as “meaningless spin” and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
She doubted that Mr Hinds’s plans could be “feasibly implemented” in time without significant financial and practical disruption and derided the decision as “desperate.”
“World-class technical education cannot simply be delivered by press release while avoiding the impact of years of cuts on the sector,” she said.
Ms Rayner pledged that Labour in power would “transform” further education by ensuring schools and colleges receive the right funding and that high-quality training is available for all those who desire it.
Earlier this month Jonathan Slater, the senior mandarin at the DfE, formally registered concerns about T-levels, saying it would be “challenging” to ensure that the first three courses will be ready by 2020 to be taught at a “consistently high standard.”
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