In its review of post-16 qualifications and below, the Department for Education (DfE) announced their aim of developing a new streamlined qualifications system for students aged 16 and over. In consultations in 2019 and 2020 the DfE set out their intention to remove funding approval from level 3 qualifications that overlap with T Levels.
In 2021, a one-year extension to the removal of funding approval was agreed, meaning that technical qualifications that overlap with Wave 1 and 2 T Levels will now have funding approval removed in August 2024 (previously August 2023).
In May 2022, DfE published the provisional list of technical qualifications that will be in scope for defunding from August 2024 for 16-19 learners in England. Only 7 of the 160 qualifications identified are Cambridge Technicals. The qualifications affected are the Cambridge Technicals in Engineering and the Cambridge Technicals in IT. Both qualifications have content that overlaps with T Levels in Waves 1 and 2. We are appealing these qualifications.
Aside from the qualifications identified as overlapping with T Levels, all remaining qualifications (excluding A levels and T Levels) will need to go through a new approvals process in order to be eligible for funding in the future (from September 2025).
The DfE have said that the new criteria for academic and technical qualifications needs meeting for qualifications to get approved for funding in the future:
All qualifications will need to follow regulations set by Ofqual to be eligible for funding approval.
We are looking to develop new Level 3 qualifications that enrich key stage 5 curriculums. Our new qualifications will complement existing A Level study programmes by providing students with the practical and essential skills they need to better prepare themselves for entry into higher education and university.
We will be redeveloping our Level 3 qualifications and sending them to the DfE for approval. We’re currently awaiting confirmation of the timeline for this approval process from the DfE.
We want to ensure our new qualifications meet the needs of teachers and students. If you teach a vocational qualification at KS5 and would like to be involved in the development of our new qualifications and provide input into their design and content, why not join our teacher panel?
Joining the panel is simple. We’ll ask you a few registration questions, so we can accurately target our questions to you, then once registered you’ll be able to take part in online activities such as mini-surveys and discussion forums. All your feedback on these activities goes straight to our development team.
We’ve created a graphical timeline which explains the re-development process and shows the next subsequent steps and the estimated key dates. We’ll update the timeline so that you can keep track of progress.
Q: When are reforms going to happen? Will all qualifications change at the same time?
A: We are already working on the qualifications to replace our current suite of Cambridge Technicals. We will release them in two waves to coincide with DfE defunding of existing qualifications. New Cambridge Technicals will be available for first teaching in September 2025 and September 2026.
Q: After the reforms what choice of routes will be available to 16-year-olds?
A: Students will have the choice to study a mixed curriculum of 2 A Levels alongside a Cambridge Technical, a full T Level programme or an apprenticeship.
Q: The reforms affect what type of vocational qualifications?
A: The change in funding by the DfE means all L3 post-16 vocational qualifications will need to undergo reform and meet strict new criteria in order to be funded.
Q: The reform affects which Cambridge Technical qualifications?
A: All Cambridge Technicals are affected by the reform and require redevelopment.
Q: When will the current Cambridge Technicals lose their funding?
A: Funding is withdrawn in two waves:
We are developing replacement qualifications to be available for first teach in September after each defunding date, so there are no gaps in provision.
Q: So, if a large qualification doesn't overlap with a T Level subject, will it be allowed to continue?
A: All vocational Applied General qualifications, regardless of size need to meet new DfE criteria to gain funding and performance table points, even if they do not overlap with T Levels.
Q: The reform affects large qualifications, but what about smaller vocational qualifications such as 360 GLH qualifications?
A: All 360 GLH qualifications will need reforming and meet new DfE criteria to gain funding and performance table points.
Q: Can I teach the smaller qualifications alongside other qualifications?
A: We are designing our smaller 360 GLH Cambridge Technical replacement qualifications to complement a mixed A Level/Applied General curriculum.
Q: Can I teach the new qualifications alongside A Levels or T Levels?
A: The 360 GLH Cambridge Technical replacement qualifications will be designed so you can teach them alongside A Levels. T Levels are full programmes of study and aren’t taught alongside other L3 qualifications.
Q: In which subjects are you developing new qualifications?
A: We are developing new Cambridge Technical qualifications in the following subject areas:
Q: Will OCR be offering any new subjects?
A: We will be developing qualifications in these two new subject areas:
Q: Is OCR going to be offering T Levels?
A: We don’t currently offer any T Levels. The DfE’s tendering process for awarding organisations, limits a single provider to offer each T Level.
Q: I've thoughts about the new qualifications, is there a way for me to share these or get involved in the development of new qualifications
A: We would love to have your feedback on the development of our new qualifications. You can join our online community panel of KS5 teachers and get involved.
Q: If the BTEC I currently teach currently is defunded, is it easy to switch to a new Cambridge Technical qualification?
A: Switching to Cambridge Technicals is quick and easy, we have a dedicated switching guide, and our customer support team is on hand to assist should you need it
Q: What support, resources and training will be available for the new qualifications?
A: We’ll provide a full package of support, including resources, CPD events, and digital services in the run-up to first teach. We’re also working with leading publishers to develop textbooks and teaching and learning resources.