UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has revealed his ambitious vision to transform post-16 education in England, announcing the introduction of an innovative qualification called the Advanced British Standard (ABS).
The new qualification aims to merge A and T levels, revolutionizing the educational landscape.
In his speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Sunak emphasized the aim of achieving “parity of esteem” between academic and technical education.
The ABS will cover the best aspects of both A-levels and T-levels, giving students a broader and more flexible education, Sunak said.
The UK Prime Minister said one of the key changes proposed is an increase in the number of subjects students will study, rising from the traditional three to a minimum of five.
Sunak also highlighted plans to extend the number of teaching hours for students aged 16 and over, ensuring they receive at least 1,475 hours of tuition over two years, a significant increase on the current standard.
Additionally, the Prime Minister underlined the importance of all students studying English and mathematics up to the age of 18, reinforcing the commitment to equipping young people with essential literacy and numeracy skills.
To support the implementation of the ABS, Sunak announced an initial investment of £600 million over two years. This funding will include tax-free bonuses of up to £30,000 for teachers in key shortage subjects during their first five years in the profession, with the aim of attracting and retaining teaching talent.
While some have welcomed the government’s proposals, including the promise of a more comprehensive and complete education for students, critics argue that the plan ignores pressing issues such as teacher shortages and infrastructure problems in schools. .
The government will launch a consultation on the ABS implementation process later this autumn, followed by the publication of a white paper outlining the details.
In a broader context, Prime Minister Sunak also referred to initiatives to promote apprenticeships and pledged to discourage universities from offering programs that “do nothing for students’ life chances”, addressing concerns on degrees with limited employability prospects.
The announcement marks a significant step towards reshaping post-16 education in England, with the government aiming to ensure students are better prepared for future career opportunities and challenges.