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T-Levels have given me so many opportunities

Greg Devine


Graduating students throw mortarboard hats into the air

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For those that don’t know, T-Levels are the new qualification available as a post-16 option. They’re an alternative to A-Levels and BTECs, and they provide a great option for students who wish to have more focused study on a certain topic.

I completed a digital production and design T-Level that focused on computing. If I’d opted for A-Levels, I would have been able to pick computer science, but I would’ve had to supplement this with other course choices.

As part of the first cohort of students to take T-Levels and, more recently, receive results at the end of said course, I feel that I’ve been given many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I’d chosen A-Levels. Chances are, without taking the qualification, I wouldn’t be writing this article. One of the requirements to pass the course is to take up a workplace placement. Mine just so happened to be at ITK’s sister company, Novus.

Thanks to the success of that placement, I have secured part-time employment at ITK, which is something I will do at university, alongside studying for my degree. This will put me in great stead, compared to other students, as I’ll be able to supplement my maintenance loan with an additional wage. It’s a job I really enjoy as well—and writing articles for ITK will give me a much-needed break from my university studies.

As my classmates and I were the first crop of T-Level students, my college was very keen to produce a lot of marketing material. Barnsley College is a well renowned and respected educational organisation; to be the face of T-Levels within an Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding Institution’ is something I can be proud of. Pride isn’t the only thing to come out of their marketing, I really enjoyed being a part of it. I love acting and have done it throughout my time in school. I chose not to take drama, or a similar subject, and I found myself craving to be on stage or in front of a camera. This yearning was satisfied, thanks to their marketing videos.

I built a great reputation at Barnsley, so when their new Sci-Tech innovation building opened, I was asked to be present at the launch. The Education Secretary at the time, Nadhim Zahawi, was in attendance, and I had a long conversation with him. He really liked my attitude as a student, and to hear that a high operating member of parliament found me inspirational, and that he had no doubts that, with my mindset, I would have a successful career, is incredibly rewarding. Mr Zahawi even mentioned me by name in the House of Commons—something my family and I, and the college, are all extremely proud of.

The BBC was also in attendance during the opening ceremony, and I was asked to do an interview. I ended up on BBC Look North…something not everybody gets the chance to do, especially whilst being recognised as a model student. I talked about how great the facilities were at the college’s new building and how they will help me and future generations to be successful in our region—one that’s incredibly underfunded.

anchor-woman preparing to interview someone whilst holding a microphone

Further opportunities came when I was personally invited to the House of Lords for a T-Level celebration event. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled in person, due to the 41-degree weather in London; a virtual event was held instead. I gave a short speech about my experience with T-Levels and how they could be improved. I received an email shortly afterwards that thanked me for my talk and which recognised how well I’d done.

More recently, I received my results. I got the distinction I needed to go to Newcastle University to study Computer Science. This is just another thing I can be proud of, given that it’s equivalent to three As at A-Level. When I went to pick up my results the BBC were there; again, looking to interview me. This time, it wasn’t Look North but the national news. My interview was the first story in the 6pm slot, which means around four million people saw it.

T-Levels really are the future. They allow academic students who still want some vocational experience to receive a qualification that even prestigious universities wouldn’t turn their noses up at. I’ll always be grateful for the many opportunities offered to me, thanks to my qualification. I’ll continue to be part of the T-Level family, as I’ve been invited to become an ambassador and alumni. This will look fantastic on my C.V., especially considering I want to go into teaching.

Maybe you or someone you know is thinking about their options, post-16. I’d definitely recommend looking into T-Levels…they’ve brought me so many opportunities, and I personally believe these will only increase as time moves on. They really are the next level qualification.

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