The new BTEC level 1 Applied Science – is it for your school?

The team at Pearson have been busy updating and promoting their new level 1 BTEC qualifications. This follows a move to the new assessment framework in line with other BTECs but is it a good qualification to use with your lower attaining students in the same way its predecessor was?

I’ve sat through webinars and read the material on the website  – I hope I’ve not got the wrong end of the stick! I’ve focused on the appropriateness and relevance to students in a school setting – I don’t know enough about FE to comment.

So what’s changed for the better?

  • Differentiation – now three levels of pass so is likely to appeal to a wider range of learners.
  • The focus of the qualification now makes it more suited for students who have completed ELC or GCSE (In my last school we didn’t offer science to P16 due to the lack of a suitable qualification)
  • More of a focus on practical skills (and it’s still 100% internal assessment)

Barriers to adoption by a school

  • The new assessment regime makes this qualification less suited to students with SEN than the old version. There is an expectation that students are working more independently and there will be less scaffolding than allowed under the original level 1 BTEC. That poses serious barriers to many level 1 learners. In line with the revised level 2 BTECS, feedback is different and Pearson states “Feedback from the initial work should tell the learner WHAT is missing but not HOW to achieve it”.  There is a special retake process but this can only lead to a pass grade.
  • The qualification still doesn’t carry performance measures or count towards progress 8. In this situation, you have to stop and ask yourself what qualification is most appropriate to my learners? If they are unlikely to pass GCSE Science or on the border-line of a pass, this qualification is unlikely to be for them.
  • For KS4 learners, ELC is co-teachable with GCSE whereas this qualification would not be. The new L1 BTEC would be best taught to a discrete group, most likely at KS5 (and not many schools offer a P16 pathway that isn’t A-level)
  • There is overlap but not coverage of the GCSE specification content. This qualification was not written to be a GCSE replacement but an alternative qualification for students aged 14 and over.
  • Although a level 1 qualification, some of the tasks are quite challenging and require a different teaching approach to ELC and GCSE

So where does this leave the qualification?

Whilst interesting, this is a niche qualification that most secondary schools will skip past for the reasons detailed above. If this qualification interests you and you would like to find out more, the link to the  BTEC L1 page is here.

One thought on “The new BTEC level 1 Applied Science – is it for your school?”

  1. I couldnt agree more. My experience of teaching the new BTEC L2 and the allowed feedback (this is what is missing) was a bit of a disaster – however, over the two years the Pearson guidance on feedback changed and whilst you cant “tell” pupils what to do you can be quite specific in what is missing..semantics, yes, rediculous, certainly a farce, absolutely. More to the point – getting SEN pupils to work independantly? Mainstream struggle so what about an autistic pupil? I have gone to ELC with GCSE.

Leave your comment here..