BTec results 2021: What are they and when are results out?

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Two student mechanics repairing carImage source, Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of students are due to receive their BTec results this week.

These exams are aimed at people interested in working in a particular industry, such as engineering, hospitality and childcare.

How will results be decided this year?

BTec students will receive teacher-assessed grades this year - no external assessments or algorithms will be used. This is the same as GCSE and A-level students.

The exception to this is BTec students taking qualifications that can only be required through practical assessment, such as an electrician. In these instances, external assessments will still be used to check skills. They were adapted to allow for social distancing.

Students will receive their results on the same days as A-level and GCSE students, which will be 10 and 12 August respectively.

What are BTec Nationals and BTec Firsts?

BTecs - which stand for the Business and Technology Education Council - are practical qualifications that are aimed at specific job or career sectors.

Construction, electrical engineering and art and design are just some of the many BTec qualifications that are available.

Courses are assessed through exams, practical coursework and often, placements.

Other vocational qualifications such as City and Guilds are also available.

BTec Nationals are studied over one or two years and are similar to A-levels. Many students take a combination of BTecs and A-levels. BTecs can be used to get into university, although many use them to have occupation-specific skills.

BTec Firsts are equivalent to one or more GCSEs, and are often taken alongside them. They can be helpful for people trying to get into further education colleges.

What do I do if I'm unhappy with my grades?

You can ask your school or college to appeal to the organisation running your BTec.

You can also appeal directly.

The awarding organisation will review the result and send you a final report.

If you're still not satisfied you can make a complaint to the regulator Ofqual.

It might also be possible to complete your assessments in the autumn, although you should check based on your course.

Image source, Getty Images

Who takes BTec Nationals and why?

It was estimated just under 250,000 students completed BTec Nationals in 2019, compared with about 245,000 who sat A-levels.

A further 200,000 are estimated to sit BTec Firsts and other BTec qualifications.

BTec Nationals can be sat by any age group - in fact, most are taken by those over the age of 22, as they develop practical career skills.

The most popular subjects in 2019 were business, sport and health and social care.

About 20% of university students in England are accepted after studying only BTec Nationals. Another 10% are accepted into higher education with a combination of A-levels and BTecs.

Midlands and northern students use Btecs for university the most. % of acceptances by region and qualification,  2016.  .

BTec Nationals are particularly popular among white working-class students, according to research by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank.

In 2016, 31% of this group who were accepted into higher education had studied only BTec Nationals.

Students from ethnic minority backgrounds are also more likely to have these qualifications, including 37% of black students.

Minority groups use Btecs more to enter university. % of acceptances by ethnicity and qualification,  2016.  .

What criticism has there been of vocational qualifications?

According to Ofqual, there are currently more than 12,000 vocational qualifications at all levels, offered by more than 150 awarding organisations.

Beyond BTec, other organisations, such as City and Guilds and the OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations), also offer vocational qualifications. There are 34 different qualifications available for plumbing alone.

Image source, Getty Images

Between 2005 and 2015, the proportion of students receiving top grades for the "old style" BTecs increased from 21% to 61%. In 2016, a new-style BTec replaced the qualification which had seen the inflation take place.

Grade inflation can mean that employers and universities do not have like for like comparison between different years of students.

What are T-levels?

The government is now introducing a new T-level qualification, which it hopes will redress a potential imbalance between technical and academic qualifications for over-16s.

These new two-year courses will follow on from GCSEs and be equivalent to three A-levels. The first two-year T-level courses started in September 2020 but most of them will be introduced in 2023.

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