New GCSE-level vocational engineering qualifications will be available to schools in the UK from September 2014.
The two new qualifications have received Ofqual accreditation and appeared in the Department for Education’s approved list of qualifications announced today.
The BTEC qualifications have been developed by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Pearson, the awarding organisation, as a redevelopment of the 14 to 19 Diploma in Engineering, after the Principal Learning element of it was deemed equivalent to only one GCSE following the Wolf report on vocational education in 2011.
Professor Matthew Harrison, director of Education Programmes at the academy, said: “We wanted to do something to put high quality, well-respected engineering back on the 14 to 16 curriculum. Redeveloping the diploma was the best way to do that.”
The BTEC was designed to address the leaks in the engineering education pipeline at GCSE level identified by the Perkins’ review of engineering skills published earlier this year, by offering students an introduction to engineering early on in their school careers.
According to the academy the BTECs are flexible and can be studied alongside other GCSEs or vocational subjects and have a strong focus on the practical application of the skills learned and on problem solving.
On top of specific knowledge in the sector, students taking the new BTECs will receive training in transferable skills such as self-management, team-working, problem-solving and communication.
A third BTEC First Award in Engineering Materials and Manufacturing is currently in development and should also be available from September 2014 after accreditation by Ofqual and will be submitted to the 2017 performance measures list.
Faith Wainwright, director of engineering firm Arup and member of the academy’s education committee, said: “Many people have the interest and ability to thoroughly enjoy engineering, and the new opportunities to learn through these BTEC qualifications is good news. I can see everyone benefiting from them.
“The BTECs will bring about a more diverse workforce, which is good news for employers, while pupils will pick up problem-solving skills and see how the practical application of science can make difference to everyday lives. The BTEC will give them a taste of engineering even if heading for a different career.”