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Skills minister ‘meets’ first T-levels students on virtual college visit

PUBLISHED: 15:57 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:37 22 October 2020

New T-level qualifications aim to bring post-16 vocational courses on a par with A-levels. Picture: City College Norwich

New T-level qualifications aim to bring post-16 vocational courses on a par with A-levels. Picture: City College Norwich

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A government minister has paid a virtual visit to students at a Norfolk college who are amongst the first in the country to study for a new qualification.

Minister for apprenticeships and skills, Gillian Keegan, who made a virtual visit to City College Norwich. Picture: David WoolfallMinister for apprenticeships and skills, Gillian Keegan, who made a virtual visit to City College Norwich. Picture: David Woolfall

City College Norwich is one of the first further education colleges in the country offering T-levels: qualifications equivalent to an A-level but offered in more vocational subjects like construction and social care.

Paston College, Norwich-based specialist IT trainers Develop and Thorpe St Andrew School are also among the first 44 places teaching the qualifications.

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Minister for apprenticeships and skills, Gillian Keegan, made a virtual visit to the college to speak to students who began the new courses in September and see how the courses were being taught within coronavirus restrictions.

City College Norwich is one of 44 schools and colleges in the UK to welcome the first cohort of T-level students. Picture: City College NorwichCity College Norwich is one of 44 schools and colleges in the UK to welcome the first cohort of T-level students. Picture: City College Norwich

She said: “I would have loved to have gone to City College Norwich in person but we did a virtual visit and they handled it brilliantly because they did manage to beam me in to each one of the classrooms where the T level students were studying the first subjects, digital and construction, and to meet the people delivering education and childcare course.”

T levels are the latest attempt by the government to bring post-16 vocational courses on a par with A-levels.

The two-year courses, designed with help from local employers, offer a mix of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during a nine-week industry placement.

Surveying and design for construction is one of the new T-levels beign taught at City College Norwich, and which includes work placement. Picture: Getty ImagesSurveying and design for construction is one of the new T-levels beign taught at City College Norwich, and which includes work placement. Picture: Getty Images

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The courses starting in September were able to offer students face-to-face teaching whilst following Covid guidelines.

Ms Keegan said: “That’s one of the reasons we were very keen to get colleges back. Because, whilst they did an absolutely brilliant job or moving everything online quickly, there is no doubt that the specialist equipment you get access to in a college is a big part of the experience.”

City College Norwich principal Corrienne Peasgood. Picture: New Anglia LEPCity College Norwich principal Corrienne Peasgood. Picture: New Anglia LEP

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The £500m scheme will see T-levels rolled out to more colleges next year with an extra 24 subject areas.

City College Norwich will be adding T-levels in building services engineering for construction, digital business and support services, health and science.

From September 2021, East Norfolk Sixth Form College in Gorleston will be offering T-levels in subjects including digital production, design and development and healthcare science.

The number of T-level courses will be expanded in 2021 and more colleges will be offering them including East Norfolk Sixth Form College. Picture: City College NorwichThe number of T-level courses will be expanded in 2021 and more colleges will be offering them including East Norfolk Sixth Form College. Picture: City College Norwich

City College principal Corrienne Peasgood said: “We were really pleased to be able to show the minister what is happening in the classroom.

“You can know about the theoretical aspects, but seeing it in action, even virtually, and talking to students and teachers you get a fuller understanding.

“Experiences from this first year will inform it going forward. And what came across, even online, was the enthusiasm and ambition of the students.”


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