BTEC students` progression to university

Reducing the barriers for tacit
knowledge: BTEC students’ progression
to university
Linking London Higher Education Collaborative
Conference: Supporting Learner’s Progress to HE
Data proves BTEC students’ progress to
HE is on the rise
 What is Vocational?
 The future of Vocational Education
 NewVIc
 Barriers to success
 Discussion
Data proves BTEC students’
progress to HE is on the rise
BTEC are now the single biggest cohort of L3
progressors to HE from London colleges:
BTEC (full-time):
Other vocational/PT:
AS Level:
Other vocational/FT:
(on basis of main level 3 qualification)
Entry Rate
English 18 year old entry rate by qualifications held
5.8 per cent of the 18 year old population entered holding BTECs, almost twice
the rate in 2008
Acceptance Percentage Rate
25.5% of UK 18 year olds were accepted for entry in
2013 holding at least one A level
5.8% of UK 18 year olds were accepted for entry in
2013 holding BTECs, almost twice the rate of 2008
Half this increase has been for applicants holding BTECs
in combination with A levels.
The BTEC + A level entry rate is growing the fastest.
This is likely to be driven by increasing numbers of
students taking A level and BTEC combinations.
Entry Rate for those holding BTECs
The data would suggest there is little difference by background;
increases to new highs for all groups in 2013
The entry rate for the English 18 year old population holding BTECs
shows relatively little differentiation by background.
Around 6 per cent of the 18 year old population in each background group
were accepted for entry in 2013 holding BTECs, with the exception of the
most advantaged areas
English 18 year old entry rates by POLAR2 group (accepted applicants holding
Increasing Proportion of Acceptances
In higher tariff institutions (=>375 pts), for every 100 acceptances
holding A levels there are around three acceptances that hold
BTECs. This ratio has been relatively constant since 2009.
In medium tariff institutions (>260<375 pts) the ratio of
acceptances holding BTECs to acceptances holding A levels has
been increasing year-on-year to reach a new high in 2013 of 19
BTEC acceptances for every 100 A level acceptances.
Lower tariff institutions (< 260 pts) accept the highest proportion
of applicants holding BTECs relative to A levels, increasing from 35
BTEC acceptances per 100 A level acceptances in 2011 to 49 in
Please note the tariff point banding is based on the tariff score of
applicants, not the HEI entry requirement, and is used to produce a roughly
even spread of institutions in each band.
English 18 year old ratio of acceptances holding
BTECs to acceptances holding A levels
Acceptance rates increased for both A level and BTEC holders in 2013.
Acceptance rates for those holding BTECs increased to highest ever recorded
The acceptance rate for those who hold A levels is higher than the
acceptance rate for those holding BTECs.
However since 2010, the difference in the acceptance rate for those
holding BTECs has reduced from 7% in recent years to only 5% in 2013.
For those holding BTECs the acceptance rate in 2013 is 81%, the highest
recorded. For those holding A levels the acceptance rate is 86%, 1% point
lower than in 2008.
Acceptance rates for English 18 year olds by type of qualification held
What is Vocational?
Identify the Vocational Careers
What is Vocational Education?
Enable people to consider what kind of
lives they want to lead - ‘to become’
 Make sense of the changing world
 Be empowered citizens
 A means to transform society - not simply
serve the needs of the economy
Forms of Vocational E&T
 School-based
 Work-based
 Dual system
 Apprenticeship (model of learning)
 Internship - Work Experience
 Workplace
 Professional Formation and Development
 Vocational learning in everyday life
Complex Pedagogy
Collective as well as individual learning
horizontally and vertically
 Develops codified, procedural, personal,
cultural, and tacit knowledge
 Recontextualises, translates and applies
disciplinary knowledge to form vocational
 Gives a central role to practice and trial
and error - forms of feedback vary
True Vocational: Tacit Knowledge
The skilled carpenter knows just how a given
variety of wood must be handled, or what type
of joint will best serve his purpose at a
particular edge. To say that he ‘knows’ these
things is not to claim that he could put his
knowledge into words. That is never entirely
possible...The practitioner’s knowledge of the
medium is tacit. It is essentially a practiced
Powerful Knowledge
‘Practical learning’, ‘Learning by doing’ dangerous terms
Downplay ‘formal’ learning and knowledge –
suggest many jobs are not ‘knowledge-based’ –
English problem of not valuing ‘ordinary’ jobs
German concept of ‘Beruf’ – every occupation has a
corresponding body of vocational knowledge/theory
– therefore – associated vocational pedagogy
True empowerment comes through access to
learning that takes individuals beyond current
The Future of Vocational
The Future of Vocational Education
‘Technical Level Qualifications’, which are
vocational qualifications for students wishing to
specialise their studies around a specific
occupation (for example, Laboratory Technician)
or occupational area (for example, Science,
Engineering and Production Technicians).
‘Applied General Qualifications’, which are
vocational qualifications for students who wish to
continue their general education through applied
learning and then progress to further learning,
probably at university.
The Future of Vocational Education:
Tech Level qualifications
Tech Levels are level 3 (advanced) qualifications for
student wanting to specialise in a technical
occupation or occupational group.
 These qualifications will:
◦ Support progression into recognised occupations, such as
engineering, IT, accounting or professional cookery
◦ Be recognised by a relevant trade or professional body, or
by at least five employers registered with Companies
House that are representative of the relevant industry
sector or occupation.
◦ Many higher education institutions have also given their
support for Tech Level qualifications.
The Future of Vocational Education:
Applied General qualifications
Applied General qualifications are level 3
(advanced) qualifications which provide
broad study of a vocational area.
These qualifications will be:
◦ Recognised by at least three Higher Education
Institutions as fulfilling entry requirements to
a range of HE courses, either in their own
right or alongside other level 3 qualifications
◦ Supported by a range of employers and
professional or trade bodies.
Tech Vs Applied General
Synoptic Assessment
Required for both Technical Level and
Applied General qualifications.
External Assessment
Required for both Technical Level and
Applied General qualifications.
Amount not specified in percentages and
we are seeking further
Grading is required for both Technical
Level and Applied General
qualifications. Pass/Fail not enough, but
Pass, Merit Distinction is OK.
Employer Involvement
Stipulated for Technical Level qualifications
Evidence of progression required for both
Technical Level and Applied
General qualifications within the first 2
years of a qualification being
Tech Vs Applied General
 Applied:
What NewVIc does?
Different entry requirements for different
 Assignments are written which require
long prose and academic writing
 Some areas set internal examinations
 Program teams review entry
requirements for their subject degrees
and make sure the students have the
relevant entry reqs, such as an A level in
Maths for Computer Science
Barriers to Success
Lack of academic writing skills
 Express through examples not theory
 Given all sources by teachers
 Low expectations by teachers and
 Lack revision and exam technique
Discussion Topics:
How to best support your students to
 What are the barriers that you see?
 What could universities do to support
BTEC progressing students?
“Sext” Horae Canonicae
You need not see what someone is doing
To know if it is his vocation,
You only have to watch his eyes:
A cook mixing his sauce, a surgeon making a primary incision,
A clerk completing a bill of lading
Wear the same rapt expression.
Forgetting themselves in function,
How beautiful it is,
That eye-on-the-object look.
W.H. Auden 1954
Linking London - Progression of London College Level 3 Learners to HE,
Hugh Joslin and Sharon Smith, University of Greenwich
UCAS 2013 End of Cycle Report
Annex C – OFFA commissioned analysis from HEFCE on Trends in Young
Participation by selectivity of institution
Unwin, L (2014), ‘Vocational Pedagogy’, paper presented at Newham Sixth
Form College, April 30th 2014.
CANONICAE: ‘PRIME’, ‘TERCE’, AND ‘SEXT’". Literature and Theology 11 (1):

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