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T Levels will be as famous as A Levels. Official – UK Government.

T Levels will be as famous as A Levels. Official – UK Government.

by Jon WestleyJanuary 17, 2022

Nadhim Zahawi, the UK’s Secretary of State for Education with responsibility for the evolution of the British curriculum, has toured UK TV and Radio channels today to fight off claims of “Party-gate” in No.10 Downing Street – but remarkably the bigger story has been his “TL” lapel badge (pictured above and below) advertising the importance of new T Levels in post-16 British education as the de jure alternative to gold standard A Levels. 

Confused commentators, seemingly unaware of T Levels for the most part, believed the TL stood for “Tory Leader” and that Zahawi was beginning his pitch to become the next UK Prime Minister should Prime Minister Boris Johnson not survive the controversial culture of parties seen as endemic in government work culture throughout the Covid 19 pandemic.

“Party-gate”, a term recalling the 1972 Watergate scandal in America, describes the culture of parties said to have taken place in the UK at Downing Street at a time when restrictions on the UK public saw them in lockdown and unable to go out or meet with others.

Nadhim Zahawi appearing on the BBC wearing TL T Level badge.

Nadhim Zahawi appearing on the BBC wearing the new TL (T Level) badge – as the campaign to raise awareness of the alternative to A Levels gathers pace.

On the UK’s talk radio station LBC, Mr Zahawi, in fact, explained that:

“T-Levels are a fusion between an apprenticeship and an A-level”

and went on to implore the media and public to get the message out urgently that T Levels are now the official alternative for students in British schools at Sixth Form to traditional A Levels:

“I need your listeners to tell their kids, tell their grandkids …. to now look at the opportunity of a T-level – and not just an A-level.”


T Levels, like their alternative A Levels (and BTECs)  are new qualifications which follow GCSEs. Each T Level is equivalent to 3 A levels. The 2-year courses, which launched in September 2020, have been developed in direct partnership with business and industry to specifically meet their needs for skills in a twenty-first century economy in which academic qualifications like A Levels are seen as less relevant.

The two-year courses, which launched in the UK  in September 2020, provide an equivalent route to universities to A Levels – but can also provide direct, qualified entry into business and industry. One major differentiator between A Levels and T Levels, is the requirement of a minimum 315 hours of student work in industry as part of the qualification.

T-Levels subject areas include:

  • Accounting
  • Agriculture, land management and production
  • Animal care and management
  • Building services engineering for construction
  • Catering
  • Craft and design
  • Design and development for engineering and manufacturing
  • Design, surveying and planning for construction
  • Digital business services
  • Digital production, design and development
  • Digital support and services
  • Education and childcare
  • Finance
  • Hair, beauty and aesthetics
  • Health
  • Healthcare science
  • Legal
  • Maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing
  • Management and administration
  • Engineering, manufacturing, processing and control
  • Media, broadcast and production
  • Onsite construction
  • Science

Currently 10 T-Level courses are available in UK schools and colleges, with all being phased in by 2023.  Students who complete their T-Level will receive an overall grade of pass, merit, distinction or distinction*. More on T Levels here.

To date, no school in the UAE has introduced T Levels. Technical stream alternatives to A  Levels are currently delivered in UAE schools through the stand-alone BTEC in British curriculum schools, or through the BTEC-founded International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme in IB schools.

Many now believe, however, that BTEC will be replaced by T Levels, this following the UK government’s withdrawal of funding in many subjects. More on the fight to save BTECs here.

The potential loss of BTEC, and its potentially forced replacement with T Levels, is currently being considered by schools across the emirates.

The official T Level advertisement follows:

© 2022. All rights reserved.

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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