Change is a constant feature in education and every new academic year seems to bring some major transformation in policy, curriculum or qualification structure. As we approach the end of this academic year and look forward to the next, it can sometimes feel like a real challenge to keep up with the current pace of change.
On 3 April, the awarding organisation name was officially changed from Edexcel to Pearson. This means that all BTEC qualifications will now be officially titled ‘Pearson BTEC’ rather than ‘Edexcel BTEC’.
We have also been introduced to the ‘Next Generation BTEC First’ suite of qualifications. The subject list includes Business, Health and Social Care and Children’s Play, Learning and Development. Some titles have already been accredited for first teaching from January 2013 although most will begin in September. The suite consists of:
- Pearson BTEC Level 1/Level 2 First Award (120 GLH)
- Pearson BTEC Level 1/Level 2 First Certificate (240 GLH)
- Pearson BTEC Level 1/Level 2 First Extended Certificate (360 GLH)
- Pearson BTEC Level 1/Level 2 First Diploma (480 GLH)
These new qualifications build on BTEC’s established principles of supporting your Level 2 learners to apply their developing skills in a work-related context. For example, the new Business qualifications focus on how business organisations operate and the skills needed to work in business. Similarly, Children’s Play, Learning and Development has ’Principles of Early Years Practice’ as a key mandatory unit, providing an essential foundation for understanding the childcare and early years sector.
New improved principles
The development of the Next Generation BTEC Firsts has been guided by Professor Alison Wolf’s review of vocational education. The Wolf report confirmed the importance of a broad and balanced curriculum and this is embedded in the five key principles of the new BTEC Firsts:
- high quality and rigorous standards with a common core and external assessment
- a robust quality-assurance model to support you and your learners
- a range of options offering breadth and progression (with opportunities to develop skills in English and mathematics)
- the opportunity to achieve at Level 1 (recognizing that some of your learners may fail to achieve a full Pass at Level 2)
- the introduction of work-related units to improve your learners’ chances of future employment
The new BTEC First qualifications that have already been accredited will be recognized in headline measures in the 2015 performance tables for Key Stage 4 (England only). This is good news for recognition of the achievement of year 10 learners starting a two-year Key Stage 4 in September 2013, or for your year 9 learners who started a three-year Key Stage 4 in September 2012.
BTEC qualifications form the largest part of this approved list, which currently includes the following:
- BTEC Level 1/Level 2 First Award in Children’s Play, Learning and Development
- BTEC Level 1/Level 2 First Award/Certificate/Extended Certificate in Business
- BTEC Level 1/Level 2 First Award/Certificate/Extended Certificate in Health and Social Care
Good news for us all
It can sometimes be challenging to engage learners at this level of study, but this new suite of qualifications provides a clear pathway for your learners to progress either to an academic or more specialised vocational route. These new qualifications provide manageable stepping stones that will help your learners to develop essential skills which are not only valued by further and higher education institutions but are also highly regarded by employers.
Janet Stearns, BTEC consultant and Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies