The value of the first T-level contracts handed to awarding bodies was significantly below the figure initially advertised due to lower projected student numbers.
Tes understands that, while the collective value of the three contracts was initially advertised as being £17.5 million, the actual value of the contracts signed with Pearson – for two T levels pathways – and NCFE was revised down significantly, partly due to a significant drop in projected student numbers.
Excluding the development rebate element of the contracts, the total value at the end of year four of the programme of the three contracts is believed to be around £8.5 million – less than half of the original figure.
In the original invitation to tender issued in July, the number of students projected across all three pathways by the end of the fourth year of teaching was around 51,000. However, by the final tender document, this had been revised down to around 34,000, a third less than the original projection.
Shadow FE minister Gordon Marsden said Labour had been warning the government that it needed to get a clear message out about T levels for teachers, learners and their parents.
“I think it is concerning for what is supposed to the government’s flagship policy in this area that the value of these contracts has been revised down significantly. It suggests the government expects student numbers to be more modest in the early years of T levels or it could be issues to do with costs or simply they want to take this rather more slowly. There needs to be a far greater degree of transparency about why this has happened.”
Senior policy manager at the Association of Colleges Catherine Sezen said: “The technical education reforms are vital to help our country become more self-sufficient in skills and to give more young people the transition into working lives that they deserve. It is crucial that the 2020 awarding organisations work closely with the 2020 providers to ensure we have specifications which are fit for purpose to meet student needs and business requirements.”
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