Education Blog

Question: Will studying BTECs hold my daughter back after school? 

The Telegraph, 1 September 2016 – Read the article in full here.


Vivienne Durham: Good  A-level grades will offer the widest option of post-18 university choices

Your query is one that concerns many parents and you are right to anticipate the implications for your daughter, post-sixth form.

BTECs were developed as courses which offer valuable qualifications for post-16 students and adults whose skills are vocationally focused rather than suited to examinations requiring written essays and academic study. 

New BTEC Nationals are being phased in, during 2016 and 2017.  When applying to university, BTECs at Level 3 carry Ucas points equivalent to A levels.

More than 150 UK universities offer degree courses for which BTECs are accepted as qualifying qualifications. In 2015, over a quarter of students accepted in to higher education held at least one BTEC.

However, good  A-level grades will offer the widest option of post -18 university choices for your daughter, including academic courses.  If she studies A-levels, your daughter is likely to be able to gain a place on either vocationally focused – or academic – degree courses.

Good A-level grades will offer the widest option of post -18 university choices for your daughter, including academic courses.

Although she will be able to access almost all university courses with excellent A-level grades rather than BTECs, very few university courses require BTECs rather than A-levels.

A-levels still tend to be the gold standard for employers. Many organisations seek evidence of a good academic attainment – which A-levels indicate – and will then offer their own vocational training programmes.

A recent CBI report confirmed that a degree in science, technology, engineering or maths (the so-called STEM subjects) gave undergraduates a clear advantage in the jobs market. The A-level route is usually  needed for such degree subjects.

In a nutshell, if your daughter is reasonably good at passing written examinations, I would recommend the A-level route so that she keeps her future options open.

Vivienne Durham, schools advisory director at Enjoy Education and former head at Francis Holland School, Regent’s Park

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