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SFCA tells government to think again on applied generals


Commenting on today’s proposals to phase out most existing applied general qualifications, Bill Watkin, Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association said:

“The proposals set out today have the potential to be hugely damaging to the prospects and life chances of young people in England. It is clear that the government intends to sweep away the vast majority of applied general qualifications like BTECs and students will only have the option to study A levels or T levels from the age of 16. But for many young people, studying a BTEC qualification will be a much more effective route to higher education or skilled employment. Closing down this route means that thousands of students will be left without a viable pathway after they have finished their GCSEs – that’s bad for young people, bad for social mobility and bad for the economy. We’ll continue to work with the 10 education bodies in the #ProtectStudentChoice campaign to encourage the government to rethink these simplistic and regressive proposals.”


  1. The Department for Education’s proposals are set out in the Review of Post-16 Qualifications at level 3: Second stage The ministerial foreword states that: “T Levels and A levels should be the programmes of choice for 16 to 19 year olds taking level 3 qualifications”. It is proposed that funding will start to be removed for other qualifications “that do not have a place in the new 16 to 19 landscape” from September 2023 (for technical qualifications) and September 2024 (for academic qualifications). The official response will be published here tomorrow. 
  2. More information about the accompanying #ProtectStudentChoice campaign can be found here
  3. The most recent data for participation in education, training and employment in England (end of 2019) shows that 864,304 16 to 18 year olds are studying at Level 3. The majority (55%) are studying A levels only, 19% are studying applied general qualifications (in some cases alongside A levels) and 4% are studying technical qualifications. Because of recent changes to Department for Education performance tables, 22% of students are categorised as studying an ‘Other Level 3’ course. We conservatively estimate that at least half of the students in this group are studying older-style applied general qualifications, which is why they feature in this category. So in total, we estimate that at least 30% of 16 to 18 year olds studying a Level 3 qualification in England are pursuing an applied general qualification – 259,291 young people. 
  4. For more information, please contact James Kewin at the Sixth Form Colleges Association: 07887 990120
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