The Prime Minister has announced plans to develop a new qualification framework called the Advanced British Standard for 16 to 18-year-olds which will bring together the best of A levels and T levels into a single qualification framework.
The Advanced British Standard will ensure technical and academic education are placed on an equal footing, with every student also studying some form of maths and English to age 18.
We have launched a consultation on the new qualification framework and are inviting feedback from education providers and other stakeholders on how best to design and implement the Advanced British Standard.
You can find the consultation here on Gov.uk. It will close on 20 March 2024.
Here, we tell you everything you need to know about the Advanced British Standard and what it will involve.
How many subjects will the Advanced British Standard include?
While most A level students only take three subjects, students who take the Advanced British Standard will typically study a minimum of five subjects.
Some of these subjects will be studied in more detail as ‘majors’, while others will be ‘minors’. For example, a student could take three majors alongside two minors.
Students will also spend more time in the classroom, increasing taught hours to a minimum of 1,475 hours over two years. This is almost 200 more taught hours than a typical A level student in England studying three subjects currently receives, and will bring teaching time closer to countries like Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway.
Does this mean everyone will have to study English and maths to the age of 18?
Yes, every student will study some form of maths and English to age 18, making sure that fewer young people leave school without achieving the basics of literacy and numeracy.
This change will bring England further into line with other major western economics such as France, Germany, Japan and the USA.
Does this mean A levels and T levels are being replaced?
Once rolled out, we anticipate the Advanced British Standard will supersede the current varied qualification offer, building on the best of A levels and T levels and bringing them into a single qualification framework.
We will continue the rollout of T levels as a robust and well-respected technical option.
From this September, 18 T level courses are available at over 160 schools and colleges across England, in subjects as diverse as health and science, agriculture, digital, and legal services, and T levels remain a great option for young people.
When will the Advanced British Standard be introduced?
It will take around a decade to fully roll out the Advanced British Standard.
Until then, A levels and T levels will continue to be offered as rigorous, high-quality options for 16- to 18-year-olds and we will work closely with schools and colleges to support them to offer them.
We will work closely with the sector, taking account of the results and outcome of the consultation, to develop and deliver this important reform in the most effective way possible.
How will you make sure that schools and colleges are prepared for these changes and that there are enough teachers?
These changes will take time to put in place, and will be developed in close consultation with parents, pupils and teachers.
An initial funding boost of £600 million over two years will help to lay the groundwork for the Advanced British Standard.
This includes an additional £30,000 for teachers teaching key STEM and technical shortage subjects and working in disadvantaged schools and all FE colleges in their first 5 years of their career.