Exam boards seek judicial review over T levels

The body which represents exam boards has embarked on legal action against the Department for Education over the introduction of T levelsTes can reveal.

The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) has formally written to the DfE and the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), proposing a legal challenge to the government’s flagship technical education reforms. 

A pre-action protocol letter – the first stage in initiating a judicial review – was sent to the DfE and IfA yesterday. If no agreement is reached, the case could end up going before the High Court. This would put plans for the first T levels to be taught in 2020 in major doubt.

The FAB’s concerns including the timescales for the procurement exercise, and ongoing uncertainty which could disadvantage some awarding bodies, and even prevent them from bidding. The FAB also has concerns over the lack of stakeholder engagement in the licensing approach, and over the branding and intellectual property rights for the qualifications.

In the letter, Mr Eeles states: “We are taking these extraordinary steps, not because we disagree with the introduction and purpose of T levels, but because of the way the government has gone about the process of implementation.

“The rushed nature of these reforms is leading the government to put at risk the life chances and job prospects of the 30,000 learners who are expected to be enrolled in T levels from September 2020.”

The news of the legal challenge from the FAB comes one day after skills minister Anne Milton admitted to the Commons Education Select Committee that she would advise her children to “leave it a year” before starting a new qualification like T levels.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said “Although AELP has been strongly supportive of the concept of T levels, we completely understand why FAB have launched this action.  After Anne Milton’s comments to MPs yesterday, ministers should now take on board the permanent secretary’s advice and take stock of where we are on this.  In its rush, the government doesn’t seem willing to explore new models of delivery including working more closely with independent training providers who can give the young learners potential access to 380,000 employers for the required industrial placements.”

Read more Exam boards seek judicial review over T levels

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