Education Partnership North East: A provider's perspective on T Levels

Education Partnership North East provide a range of T Levels and have successfully worked with Sunderland Council and local businesses to produce successful outcomes.

What T Levels do you offer?

Sunderland College:

  • Digital Production, Design and Development
  • Building Services Engineering for Construction
  • Design, Survey and Planning for Construction
  • Health – Adult Nursing
  • Laboratory Science
  • Education and Childcare
  • Engineering Maintenance, Installation and Repair
  • Engineering Manufacturing, Processing and Control

Hartlepool Sixth Form:

  • Health – Adult Nursing
  • Laboratory Science
  • Education and Childcare

Northumberland College:

  • Health – Adult Nursing
  • Education and Childcare

How have you been working with councils to ensure students have placements?

Education Partnership North East and Sunderland College has worked successfully in partnership with Sunderland Council for many years, prior to T levels, to co-ordinate work experience and meaningful work related engagement for students.

During the Capacity Delivery Fund (CDF) industry placement pilot we linked together to trial T Level style placements within council departments including IT, Building Services and Business Support. Input, support and feedback from council department managers was an important part of the process to refine our industry placement planning ready for the delivery of T Levels. Since the T Levels commenced for us in September 2021, we are delighted to have the continued support of Sunderland Council in offering outstanding placements for students.

How does the process work?

Within Sunderland Council there is a central contact for Work Experience in the People Management department. Department Managers who are interested in hosting a student will provide a job summary for their T level industry placement opportunity and curriculum use these to match students. Placement interviews are an important part of the placement process, as they allow both student and host to determine if the match is suitable before the placement activity commences.

Why should councils offer placements for T Level students?

Work placement students can be a real benefit to their host organisation – they bring enthusiasm, new skills and fresh ideas. Employer hosts provide T Level students an opportunity to apply their studies and knowledge in a real world setting which aligns to their chosen area of study, occupational specialism and future aspirations.

What success stories do you have?

Our first cohort of T Level students commenced their industry placements from January 2022. As their placements have progressed we are delighted with their progress and feedback, including increased confidence, communication skills and soft skills application.

Engineering student Sam Billingsley was selected to be part of a national campaign to promote T Levels while on placement with Sunderland Council as part of the CDF Industry Placement pilot.

The 18-year-old spoke about his work experience at the Chester Gate housing development being managed by Gentoo which also includes improvements to roads, highways and infrastructure around the area.

“I am really enjoying the extended industry placement. It’s meant I’ve been getting hands on experience of large civil engineering projects in the city, like here at Chester Gate. I am also gaining an appreciation of how the City Council manages these on a day to day basis.”

Mark Jackson, the Council’s Assistant Director of Infrastructure, Planning and Transport, added: “The council regularly hosts students in further and higher education as they develop their practical skills.

“And, yes, students who have come to the council on work experience and placements have subsequently come to work here on apprenticeships after receiving their qualifications.

“We were very pleased that Sunderland City Council was selected as the only case study in the North East to highlight how the T Level qualifications can work and how they can offer a route into work and a career.”

This summer, Sunderland College celebrated the achievements of its T Level students as they complete their first year.

Declan, who is studying T Level Design, Surveying and Planning at City Campus, has been working with Sunderland-based architects Building Design Northern for two days a week.

He said: “I have developed my knowledge on the professional side of the industry and learnt many things I may not have had a chance to in a classroom.

“A real benefit of my placement has been learning how an architect and engineering practice operates. Being taught by industry experts has also been extremely helpful in showcasing what it’s like to work in architecture. In future, I want to pursue a career in architecture, and my placement at BDN has well and truly cemented my decision.”

Fellow student Robbie, who has completed an industry placement at construction firm Bowmer & Kirkland, added: “I would recommend studying T Levels as they open a lot of opportunities and pathways for your career.

“I have been able to go out on sites, use various equipment and experience different areas and techniques of construction which has helped give me a have a better understanding of the industry.”

I would recommend studying T Levels as they open a lot of opportunities and pathways for your career

Robbie, T Levels student

Many local businesses and organisations, which also includes Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, are embracing T Levels as a great way to bring in new ideas and the latest skills, and a new way to find, nurture and secure young talent.

Silicon Valley-based Infostretch, a specialist in digital engineering services, was among the first employers in the North East to support the new qualification.

Martin Williams, Head of Infostretch UK, said: “As employers, we have a crucial role to play in shaping future skills, growth and productivity.

“Engaging with Sunderland College and the ambitious young people embarking on their T Levels is a win-win situation for employers and students alike. Alongside their classroom learning, we’re giving students real life experience of what it is like solving some of the world’s most exciting digital challenges.”

Victoria Moyse, Work Experience & Placement Lead at Education Partnership North East, which includes Sunderland College, added: “We’re incredibly proud to be celebrating the success of our first T Level students this summer.

“We were among the first providers in the country to offer these brilliant new qualifications, and it has been fantastic to see how they have been embraced by young people.

“We are excited to see our students build on their success next year and where they will progress to once they have finished their courses – whether that be straight into the world of work, university, or other post 18 options such as an apprenticeship.”

How did your T Level students do this year? (2021/22)

T Levels commenced for Education Partnership North East in September 2021. Our first wave of students are currently progressing into the second year of their studies. In the 2021-22 academic year, 62 students successfully commenced T Level industry placement across the following T Level pathways: Adult Nursing, Education & Childcare, Digital Design Production & Development, Construction Design Survey & Planning and Building Services Engineering.

Further information