Research into the T Level Transition Programme

Suzanne Straw and Eleanor Bradley

26 May 2022

Research report on the website

Between October 2019 and September 2021, NFER undertook research into the T Level Transition Programme on behalf of DfE. The research explored how the Transition Programme was prepared for, and delivered, whilst identifying learning for future delivery. The research focused on the first providers who started delivering their Transition Programmes from September 2020 in Education and Childcare; Digital; and Construction.

Key Findings

  • Providers were highly engaged in preparations and delivery and generally delivered Transition Programmes which were well received by students.
  • The first Transition Programmes differed from most existing level 2 courses in various ways:

    • more extensive diagnostics
    • the embedding of a smaller qualification or taking a non-qualification approach
    • the incorporation of project-based delivery – including employer-set projects
    • giving additional time to, and contextualising, English and maths
    • using a variety of methods to assess students’ progress and prepare them for the T Level.

  • The pandemic brought difficulties for providers in securing placements, with few students completing one.
  • Providers faced some challenges in students’ engagement and progress in English and maths GCSEs, with some perceiving students to have received higher centre assessment grades than reflected their ability.
  • The Transition Programme aims to support students’ progression onto T Levels but, in reality, providers reported that students were progressing onto a range of options.

The elements that providers felt had most effectively prepared students for T Levels were: technical units/modules aligned to the T Level; the development of English and maths competencies within the vocational context; exam papers and questions; the development of independent study skills; an employer-set project; placements and placement preparation; and time and workload management support.