T Levels – vocational training in agriculture is changing

An image of a young female student giving a bottle of milk to a baby lamb

Vocational training in agriculture in England is changing. From September 2023, a new vocational qualification in agriculture called T Levels will be offered by agricultural colleges.

What are T Levels?

T Levels are a new vocational qualification designed to be a next step after GCSE’s and an alternative to A levels or an apprenticeship. They are:

  • Two-year courses
  • Equivalent to three A levels
  • 80% classroom-based learning and 20% industry placement
  • Work focused with an industry placement, which must be at least 315 hours long (approximately 45 days)

What does T Level stand for?

T Level stands for Technical Level.

The roll out of T levels across occupations started in 2020 with T Levels in construction, digital and education and childcare being the first ones.

More occupations are being added between now and 2025 and the launch date for agriculture is September 2023.

Will other courses, such as BTECs, still be available?

T Levels in agriculture will launch in September 2023 in selected colleges across England.

Colleges not offering T Levels in September 2023 will continue with BTEC and other level 3 courses. However, the current plan is that by September 2025 funding for BTECs and other level 3 courses will be withdrawn and a T Level in agriculture will be the only level 3 vocational qualification from that date.

What are the career options after T Levels?

Career options for students who complete a T Level in agriculture are:

  • To go into skilled employment
  • Continue further study with options to go onto a university course
  • Start a farming apprenticeship

What does a T Level in agriculture cover?

The T Level in agriculture is split into three main components:

Common Core

Common Core – material that covers agriculture and horticulture but also other related land-based occupations such as land-based engineering.

Core Pathway

Core content specific to either:

  1. Horticulture and Crop Production, Trees and Woodlands
  2. Livestock production

Occupational specialism

On completion of the Core Content sections students next go on to complete one occupational specialism either:

  • Ornamental and Environmental Horticulture and Landscaping
  • Crop production
  • Trees and Woodlands Management
  • Livestock production

What is the difference between an apprenticeship and a T Level?

Apprenticeships are designed for students who wish to learn a specific occupation ‘on the job’. An apprenticeship is typically 80% on-the-job and 20% in the classroom. Apprenticeships are suited for those who want to earn a wage and learn at the same time and are ready to join the workplace at age 16.

By contrast, T Levels offer students practical and knowledge based learning in a school or college environment and on-the-job work experience through a nine week industry placement.

Will T Levels include studying maths and English?

T Level students will need to work towards attainment of mats and English if they do not have grade 4 GCSE. However, grade 4 in English and maths GCSE or level 2 in functional skills is not needed to pass a T Level.

Where can I find more information?

More information on T Levels is available at: Introduction of T Levels | GOV.UK

How do I find out if a T Level in agriculture is available in my area?

The T Level in agriculture will launch in a limited number of colleges in September 2023. To find out which colleges are offering the new course visit: T lLevel Course Finder | GOV.UK

Useful links

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query someone from NFU CallFirst will contact you. If needed, your query will then be passed to the appropriate NFU policy team.

You have 0 characters remaining.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.