DfE Advanced British Standard consultation

The Department for Education (DfE) has proposed far reaching reform of A levels and T levels and a cull of other level 3 qualifications. A proposed Baccalaureate-style qualification framework for 16 to 19 year-olds, the Advanced British Standard (ABS) offers greater breadth to 16-19 education than existing level 3 qualifications. More information on the proposals can be found in this EPC explainer.

The EPC joined a National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC) taskforce including Engineering UK, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Council to lead on an Engineering sector response. We led and sought EAN member feedback on the elements relating specifically to grading and assessment. The NEPC response to which we were key contibutors is here.

A more detailed EPC response was made using the DfE easy read service. You can view the EPC response here.

Our key messages were:

  • A wider curriculum to 18 is welcome.
  • The continued division of academic and technical routes perpetuates the longstanding binary academic and technical divide.
  • Reforms may particularly disadvantage those providers who support the very students this proposal has at its heart.
  • Resolving the teacher crisis is a critical dependency to the success of this initiative.
  • To limit and curtail qualification choice at level 3, the DfE must satisfy itself and the sector that other level 3 qualifications, such as BTECs, do not serve an important purpose which will be lost in implementation of the ABS.
  • A future-proof education system must recognise the importance of personal attributes that ensure our next generation is work ready.
  • We welcome greater Engineering’s presence in the curriculum, but urge that government works with HE providers and subject experts to ensure that a single subject approach is fit for purpose and supports progression.
  • A broader base and higher quantity of Maths at level 3 is welcomed in Engineering but we have reservations about making it compulsory.
  • There is a valuable opportunity here to decompartmentalise the curriculum to harness the golden threads of education and join up all components within a unified approach.
  • There is a crucial need and opportunity to look radically at the way we view and implement assessment at level 3.
  • A single grade for the ABS would be highly reductive and unhelpful. It would risk raising the stakes without adding value.
  • Consultation thinking around pathways to HE is notably under-developed. University involvement in the formation of the ABS is essential.
  • It is problematic that the scope of the Advance British Standard extends only to England. No mention is made of how this will be managed within a UK system.


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