Ofsted criticises vocational qualifications

Ofsted has criticised T levels, which include early years qualifications, for high dropout rates and poor engagement with employers.

However, the review found early years students had better access to work placements than those on other courses such as construction, and teachers with early education experience were easier to recruit and retain. Early years students had good access to resources, as providers had created early years classrooms and sensory rooms.

The education and early years T level was one of the first three courses introduced in 2020. Students on the Early Years Educator pathway hold a licence to practise on completion of the qualification, and employers can count them at Level 3 in the employment ratios.

The review found that while most students complete the course, many leave before the end. Initial assessment of students was weak in most providers, and theoretical content was often not covered in sufficient depth.” It also found that employers are often “poorly informed about the content and structure of T levels”.

Ofsted is calling for the Department for Education to substantially raise public awareness and understanding of T levels, promote the qualification to employers and to ensure assessment and content is comparable to similar courses.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: “As with many new qualifications, there are some teething issues with T levels, but in most cases providers and employers seem to be working well together to address them. However, we saw a range of shortcomings which providers and the Department for Education will want to address.

“When done well, they can be a strong option for learners who prefer a vocational route through education as a path to their intended career.”

Join our mailing list

Stay up to date with all our events, awards and publications.

Information you provide us with will be kept private at all times, and will be used for communication and research purpose only.