The Federation of Awarding Bodies initiated a judicial review proceeding in connection with the implementation of T-levels. The FAB insisted this was not a disagreement with the purpose of T-levels or the way the government had gone about the process of implementation, instead there were concerns over several elements of the procurement exercise, and the approach of licensing a single body for qualifications.
The Department for Education published the draft invitation to tender for T-levels, revealing several changes to plans which had been criticised by awarding bodies.
Damian Hinds, Education Secretary, had been deeply disappointed by the T-levels legal challenge.
“We owe it to young people in England to give them a technical education to rival that in Germany or Holland or Switzerland.”
Anne Milton, Skills Minister, stated that despite requests for a meeting from the FAB, she currently had no plans to meet with the organisation during the ongoing legal action.
“I can’t go into the ins and outs of the judicial review,” she said. “I’ve made myself very available. Up to this point, anybody who wants to come and see me, I would have met with them and I know that the T-level team [has] worked very hard and met with awarding bodies prior to the draft ITT being published.”
Milton had been criticised for speaking as a parent, saying she would advise her children to “leave it a year” before taking the first T-levels. She says her comments had been “taken out of context”.
“What I was saying, and I was speaking as a mother, was highlighting the importance we place on getting really high-quality qualifications, we want really good products,” she said. “And secondly, in order to make sure that young people and their parents are aware, the first stage in that is understanding why they might be reluctant to do a brand-new qualification.”
When asked whether she felt young people would be well-advised to take the first T-levels in 2020, she replied: “I think they would be extremely well-advised to do so…These will be the gold-standard technical qualifications; what, actually, everybody has been waiting for, for a long time.”
The FAB has since withdrawn its threat of a judicial review after the government watered down its rules in the procurement process for T-levels. The federation believed that after weighing up the continued value of pursuing a judicial review, the “board does not believe that issuing a claim in the High Court at this time is the most optimal way of settling our concern.”
Speaking on this U-turn, Damian Hinds said “I welcome this decision and commitment from the Federation of Awarding Bodies to support T-levels and work with the government on their development.”