A FIRST cohort of students is studying a digital T Level after Northumberland College expanded its range of the new qualification.
Over the last two years, the Department for Education (DfE) has invested massively into Northumberland College to take its provision of technical qualifications to a new level. Working with local employers and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) within its annual curriculum planning cycle, the college has now expanded its provision of T Levels, answering the local demand for specific skills.
T Levels are technical qualifications combining classroom learning alongside an industry placement and are designed for young people as an option following GCSEs. The qualification takes two years and students spend 80 per cent of their time in the classroom and 20 per cent in the workplace. T Levels are designed to lead to a higher apprenticeship, to university or to skilled employment.
In preparation for the delivery of these qualifications, investment from the T Level Capital Fund has created industry standard workshop facilities at Northumberland College, including automation and robotic labs; a 360-dgree immersive hub to create a virtual reality environment and new technical farming and livestock handling facilities.
The college was already delivering T Levels in Education and Childcare and as of this September Agriculture, Land Management and Production and T Level in Digital Production, Design and Development.
The Digital T Level will be delivered at Northumberland College’s Ashington Campus and the qualification explores areas such as programming, coding, the use of data and the different platforms of delivery in the digital industry. It will also look closely at the area of cyber security.
Northumberland College Vice Principal for Quality and Curriculum Lee Lister said: “Our new Digital T Level will give students an amazing platform to work with an employer – such as a software or IT company – while studying and gaining the skills employers are looking for.
“Strategically, we believe that T Levels are the right way forward for the county and the college. We co-design our programmes with local employers, giving students the very best chance of gaining a relevant qualification and being career ready. T Levels deliver a more rounded, confident and skilled student because employers have shaped the course’s content and the students have been exposed to these employers through an enhanced industry placement and employer set project.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure our staff also have the right skills and experience to teach T Levels, and over the next few years we’re going to be adding more T Level subjects to our curriculum.”
Next year the college will add a T Level in Business Administration at its Kirkley Hall campus.
“Again, this is an area of skills development that Northumberland needs and we see the qualification adding to a collective drive to improve rural business success and economic growth across the county,” explained Lee.
“We believe a business administration qualification will also increase the number of rural entrepreneurs and to this aim we’ve invested heavily in areas such as our dog grooming facility, zoo and technical farm and sheep facilities” he added.
Northumberland College is the largest training provider in the county with centres in Ashington, Kirkley Hall, Berwick and Blythe. For the first time in its history, the college enrolled more than 1,000 16-18 year old students this academic year.
The college is part of Education Partnership North East (EPNE), which also incorporates Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College. EPNE was an early-adopter of T Levels which are being delivered at its other colleges.