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Cambridge well represented in 'T-level' advisory panels

By Gemma Gardner

scientist, doctor, asistent working at the laboratory using pipette
scientist, doctor, asistent working at the laboratory using pipette

Technical education overhaul will be steered by Cambridge companies.

The assistant headteacher at Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology is one of a number of representatives from the city appointed to the Department of Education’s new advisory T-level panels in the biggest-ever overhaul of technical education in Britain.

At the heart of this shake-up is a set of new technical qualifications called T-levels, which aim to simplify vocational training in Britain.

Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Education, announced the T panels as part of this package of reforms designed to ensure that young people and adults benefit from a high-quality technical education system that meets the expectations of modern employers.

These panels will be responsible for developing the outline content for new T-level course and are made up of employers, professional bodies and providers.

Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology assistant headteacher Alistair Easterfield, who will sit on the science panel, has been named alongside 15 others from employers, professional bodies and providers from Cambridge, including two Arm employees as well as additional representation from the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership and from GlaxoSmithKline.

The subject areas covered by these panels are digital; education and childcare; construction; health and science; legal, financial and accounting; and engineering and manufacturing – the six routes the government announced last month would be delivered in 2020 and 2021.

Arm’s senior corporate responsibility manager Simon Humphrey has been appointed to the data and digital services T panel, and Khaled Benkrid, Arm’s senior director of education and research, has joined the panel for engineering and manufacturing: design, development and control.

Mr Humphrey, who has made social mobility a key feature of Arm’s education strategy, said: “Serving on the T panel to shape a qualification that works both for young people and for industry is an honour.

“Arm has a business requirement for future talent, and significant experience of inspiring young people into STEM careers.

“Both T-levels and degree apprenticeships offer an alternative route to university for young people keen to pursue a career in technology.”

Last month’s T-level action plan set out that while only a small number of providers will offer the first three qualifications from 2020, all pathways from the first six “priority routes” will be delivered by selected providers the following year.

This will be followed by further expansions until the “vast majority” of providers will offer T levels by 2024, said the government, adding that the process to determine which providers will deliver the qualifications in 2020 will be confirmed by the government this autumn.

“There is a growing gap between what educational institutions are teaching, and the knowledge and skills required in today’s job market, especially in engineering disciplines.

“Failure to address this education/skills gap has serious socio-economic consequences. This gap can only be bridged by a concerted collaborative effort between educational institutions, government and industry to fundamentally reform technical education in Britain,” said Mr Benkrid, an ex-university lecturer.

Among the other Cambridge-based companies to be represented on the panels are Saipem UK Ltd, Amazon, Countryside Properties, Lovell Partnerships Ltd, Morgan Sindall, Skanska UK Plc, AECOM, Accenture, the Royal Society of Chemistry and MedImmune.

There are 187 members in total across the six panels, which range in size from seven to 15 members. The roles are all paid, with chairs receiving £2,000 per quarter while each member’s employer receives £1,000 per quarter.


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