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Catering becomes latest casualty in T level debacle

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

A blog written by Terry Fennell Chief Executive and Responsible Officer

News recently in is that the new Catering T level has hit the bumpers, delayed for not one but two years until 2025, due to so called ‘quality concerns’. Many believe that ‘low interest’ from prospective learners and employer supervision concerns for under 18’s on 45 day placements, were more likely causes. All this despite the Government offering £1,000 incentives.

What frustrates me the most is that it is our colleges, after spending months preparing to deliver the new qualification, investing in facilities, and recruiting learners, that are left high and dry. And Catering is not the only one – three other T levels intended for launch in September have also been parked without warning. This is massively disrupting for colleges who are already under intense pressure to maintain high quality learning in an ever-changing landscape.

It saddens but shouldn’t surprise me. FDQ have campaigned hard for food qualifications to be given greater priority by government. With some success too – the FDQ Level 3 Diploma in Professional Bakery is now approved for funding as part of the ‘Free Courses for Jobs’ initiative, meaning adults can access this course for free.

And fortunately, FDQ’s proven Level 2 and Level 3 Professional Bakery Certificates and Diplomas will continue to attract the usual funding for 16 to 19 year olds so can safely bridge the gap until 2025, when hopefully the problems with the Catering T level are ironed out.

But the fact remains that government and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education have not given food and drink, one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the UK, the standalone T level it deserves. In fact only two of the existing approved T levels have any food teaching content at all.

· Science T Level – Food Science

· Engineering, Manufacturing, Process and Control T Level – Food and Drink Advanced Process

As always, FDQ will continue to work hard on behalf of the industry we all love and seek any opportunities to raise its profile at the highest levels. In the meantime though I will be sure to keep you all informed on the Government’s level 3 reform programme. Plans for cycle one were finally published in January and cycle two is due to open in the Autumn. In both areas FDQ has until 2025 to develop new qualifications - before then though its business as usual.

If anyone has a question about T Levels in food and drink and/or our level 3 developments please give me a call at the office or email me at



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