Performing Arts BTEC could be scrapped in post-16 qualifications reform

Harriet Clifford
Thursday, January 14, 2021

The consultation on the future of post-16 technical qualifications is taking place this month, with Drama teachers spreading the word on social media about a proposed scrapping of BTEC Performing Arts.

BTEC Performing Arts will not be funded if the changes go ahead
BTEC Performing Arts will not be funded if the changes go ahead

Kozlik mozlik

UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, the deadline for the consultation survey has been extended from 15 January to 31 January 2021.

In the second stage of the Department for Education’s ‘Review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 in England’, it has been proposed that 16- to 19-year-olds wanting to study a technical subject can choose from 24 ‘T Levels’ and ‘additional specialist qualifications’ that can be studied alongside T Levels. 

This would mean that BTEC Performing Arts and other vocational qualifications such as Cambridge Technicals in Performing Arts, RSL Vocational Awards, UAL performing arts qualifications and other vocational creative and performing qualifications would no longer be funded. There is no replacement T Level in Drama or Performing Arts. 

The government consultation document states that ‘this will mean that all technical qualifications should offer the firm prospect of a sustainable job and career.’ 

It continues: ‘We plan to remove qualifications that overlap with A levels. We are proposing there should be qualifications that can be taken instead of A levels, but only if they help young people access specialist HE courses, such as our providers of world leading arts education. We expect these will be limited in number.’ 

Elsewhere, it says: ‘We are not proposing to fund qualifications which do not provide any value for HE progressions over and above an overlapping A level.’ 

The DfE is also proposing to fund a small range of academic qualifications that should be taken alongside A levels, including ‘small qualifications in performing or creative arts’, which will need to be ‘valued’ by specialist Higher Education institutions. 

Outlined in the proposal are a limited number of ‘well-recognised, small qualifications’ that can be taken alongside a student’s main study programme to support HE progression but ‘do not form the core aim’. These include performing arts graded qualifications. 

Actor, teacher and director @ShazDrama has spoken out about the proposed changes on Twitter, saying in recent Tweets, 'They do not value the subject as a vocation' and that, ‘we need to get the industry behind this. The worst step for diversity and inclusion in 40 years. Just when the industry is pushing for inclusivity.’ 

Other drama teachers and theatre practitioners have voiced their concerns about the proposed changes, describing them as ‘scandalous’ and a ‘joke’.

Read the full consultation and share your views before the 31 January here