Our response to the Department for Education consultation on the Advanced British Standard

May 7, 2024

We’ve responded to the Department for Education’s consultation on a proposed new qualification framework for 16–19-year-olds, the Advanced British Standard (ABS).
Our Response 

1. We believe the Advanced British Standard’s most valuable contribution will be achieving parity of esteem for T-levels and A-levels. We need to ensure that the two routes (A-levels/ABS Standard and T-levels/ABS Occupational) are individually respected for achieving the aims that they are designed for, and students have equal opportunities whichever of the options they choose.

2. Bridging the information and knowledge gap in universities hosting T-Level work placements. There needs to be careful consideration given not to remove the placement value (45 days) as lowering the number of days would decrease the value of the experience.

3. A university requires a central dedicated placement coordinator role, as there is no capacity to coordinate the work placement process. Along with this is the barrier of expertise, there is a lack of understanding of what is required. If this is to become common practice in universities, funding is needed to help manage the process. This would enable universities to address knowledge gaps such as upskilling, direction, and support.

4. In order to ensure that providers offer the ABS occupational, funding and a central project is necessary to influence and recruit employers in a national placement employer database (maybe one in each area so one for science, one for engineering). This will remove the barrier of sourcing own placements and therefore encourage providers to offer the occupational route. It will mean Placement coordinators will be able to access a database of local employers and direct contact for placements to source student placements.

5. The UK ITSS’s Apprenticeship report highlights a “lack of diversity within the profile of technicians working in higher education. Apprenticeships and technical education offer a new route to attracting diverse talent to work within technical careers in higher education and research institutions. Further Education colleges providing T-Levels and apprenticeships offer an untapped talent pipeline for university technician workforce.”

6. The ABS Occupational route should ensure smooth continuation of the development underway in the current T-level route. The current and future T-levels routes should be clearly catered and linked to apprenticeships and/or degree apprenticeships. For example, ABS Occupational routes have significant potential to clearly linked to the five critical technologies in the government’s Science and Technology Framework.


Click here to download the summary pdf

Author: Farheen Akhtar, Policy and Engagement Manager