BTEC National Grade Statistics Released

The BTEC National grade statistics from the 2018 BTEC National cohort have been released by Pearson, but what do these results show us?

With the changing of the guard from the 2010 BTEC National to the newer 2016 BTEC National being somewhat stunted, due to concerns over the examinations and the constant extension to the final enrolment date, have schools & college’s been moving to the new qualification?

Also, have the results of BTEC students been significantly affected by the addition of external examinations to the BTEC?

What Can We Learn?

Looking at the BTEC National results, some obvious things stand out:

  1. Nearly 62,000 students studied the 2016 BTEC specification. This is still dwarfed by the 232,414 studying the 2010 specification, but most colleges that did switch would still have had their second years on the old specification. That being said, a lot more college’s have stuck with the old specification than move to the new one.
  2. High grades on the new specification are on average much lower than the old specification. D*-D grades on the Extended Certificate make up 34.3% of the grades achieved. The equivilanton the 2010 spec had 45.4%.
  3. That being said the new specification actually enjoys a greater pass rate and high grade results increased by 7% from last year on this level of the qualification. U results went from 8.4% down to 2.9%. Possibly as a result of the new N grades added to the exams.
  4. The 5 most popular BTEC qualifications are business studies, health & social care, applied science, information technology & sport. This holds true on the new specification as well as the old.
  5. There are still some very severe gender differences within BTEC studies with Information Technology & Sport leaning heavily to male students and Health & Social care towards Female. Applied Science does have a very even split and Business, while having a higher number of male students, is more even than the other subjects mentioned.

The BTEC Level 2 qualification results have also been released. These students were amongst the last cohort we’ll see from key stage 4 students, though the course continues to be run in colleges. There was small fall in both number of students and in the results. It will be interesting to see the effect of the new BTEC Tech Awards that are being taught for the first time this year.

The most popular BTEC First qualifications were the sport, health & social care, business, performing arts and information & creative technology qualifications.

Where From Here?

Principles Of Computer ScienceObviously a lot of schools and college’s are holding off on the switch to the new specification, I believe many hoping they’ll be able to continue running it until the T-Levels are released (piloted in 2020 with main release in 2021).

That’s probably a little optimistic and we’ll see more and more switch. Generally I think the new qualification brings a lot of benefits to the students and is worth the switch.

To help with the delivery of the 2016 BTEC Level 3 qualifications KnowItAll Ninja has courses for the BTEC National in Information Technology in units:

Of course we also have courses for the BTEC Level 2 Information & Creative Technology, covering:

There is also a soon to be released course for the BTEC National Computing qualification covering Unit 1 Principles of Computer Science. This will be followed with a course for Unit 2 Fundamentals of Computer Systems later in the academic year.

The Principles of Computer Science course is expected to be released in early December.

I also have courses in development for the BTEC Tech Award in Digital Information Technology and the BTEC Tech Award in Enterprise. So, keep an eye out for these qualifications coming this academic year.

All these courses will enjoy the presentations, well explained content, key topic videos, quizzes and gamified learning you’re used to from

Also, keep an eye out on the Facebook and Twitter pages as more and more free content is being added to them all the time.

New BTEC Level 2 ICT Qualifications

We’ve recently seen announced two new BTEC Level 2 ICT qualifications that will start first teaching in September 2017.

These are the BTEC Level 1 / Level 2 Tech Award in Information Technology and the BTEC Level 2 Technicals in Digital Technology.

Given the new BTEC First in Information & Creative Technology has only been taught for a few years now, this might cause some concern over having to change qualification again. However, the BTEC First registration date has been extended until 2019, which  means this offers a lot of flexibility for teachers.

So what do these new qualifications offer us? Should we switch right away, or wait until we need to switch? To help you, I’ve summarised some of the key information on these new qualifications.

BTEC Tech Award in Information Technology

This qualification is simultaneously assessed at level 1 & level 2 and only has a single option worth 1 GCSE (120 GLH).

The first registration and first teaching date for the course is September 2017 and first assessment date is Spring 2019 (so don’t start teaching it September 2017 if you want to deliver it in 1 year).

The BTEC Level 1/2 Tech Award Units

The qualification is broken down into three units, one of which is assessed externally via a traditional written exam, and the other two internally. All units must be passed at at least level 1. These units are:

  • Exploring Uses of Information Technology
  • Developing a Spreadsheet Solution to Model Data
  • Creating an Interactive Product

Externally Assessed BTEC Units

Component 1: Exploring Uses of IT is the externally examined unit from the qualification. The exam can be taken February & May/June of each year from 2019 onwards and will be worth 40% of the students overall grade in the qualification.

The external assessment will come in the form of a short answer written exam paper. Their will be a total of 60 marks available and students will be given 75 minutes to complete the exam.

Students can achieve a Pass, Merit or Distinction grade at either Level 1 & Level 2 from this test.

Of course KnowItAll Ninja will provide a revision course for this unit to help your students prepare and get the best mark possible in their BTEC Tech Awards in IT qualification.

Internally Assessed BTEC Units

Component 2: Develop a Spreadsheet Solution to Model Data and Component 3: Creating an Interactive Product are both assessed through traditional BTEC internally assessed coursework.

Students can achieve a Pass or Merit grade at Level 1 or a Pass, Merit or Distinction grade at Level 2.

BTEC Level 2 Technicals in Digital Technology

This is a much larger suite of BTEC Level 2 ICT qualifications. The qualification offers three pathways to students:

  • Data Management
  • Digital Applications
  • Networking & Cybersecurity

Unlike the BTEC Level 2 Tech Awards, these qualifications are focused more closely on work-based skills. The goal of the qualification is to prepare students for apprenticeships rather than a route to level 3 study (though this can lead to further BTEC Level 3 studies).

They’re also designed only for post-16 students and all versions of this qualification are equivalent to 3 GCSE’s (360 GLH).

The BTEC Level 2 Technicals Units

Unlike most previous BTEC qualifications of this size, there are no optional units. Every unit is mandatory. There are six units to each pathway, four of which are common to all three pathways (a little strange given how different in topic each path is).

The four common units are:

  • Set Up and Configure Technology Systems
  • Current and Emerging Technologies
  • Security Protection and Risk Management
  • IT Service Solutions

As mentioned, the final 2 units depend on your pathway. So, Pathway 1 will see units on Database Tools & Techniques and Organisational Data Systems. Pathway 2 will see units on Digital Application Development and Organisational Uses for Digital Media Systems. Finally, Pathway 3 will see see units on Network Technologies & Applications and Installing & Maintaining Networks.

Most units will be assessed through the traditional BTEC internally assessed assignment. However, Unit 3: Security Protection and Risk Management will be assessed through an external on-screen test. Also, Unit 5: IT Service Solutions will be assessed through an externally assessed task.

The External Assessments

Both external assessments can be taken as early as January 2018 and students will be allowed one resit. The onscreen test is available on-demand, while the task will have four opportunities in the year on a quarterly basis.

The on-screen test will consist of a mixture of multiple-choice and short answer questions (the same as the current BTEC First I&CT qualification). The exam will have 60 marks and students will have 75 minutes to complete it.

The externally assessed task is a practical activity completed in controlled conditions. The task will have 45 marks and students will have 3.5 hours to complete it in.

Again, KnowItAll Ninja will provide a revision course for this unit to help your students prepare and get the best mark possible in their BTEC Level 2 Technicals in Digital Technology qualification.

So Which Qualification to Choose?

Well, obviously you don’t need to right now. The older BTEC First in Information & Creative Technology will be running for at least a couple more years.

However, planning for the future, if your a school then you will be moving towards the BTEC Tech Award in Information Technology. If you currently deliver a 2 GCSE version this will be a problem as there is no 2 GCSE version. You’ll need to hope for a replacement for the traditional BTEC First I&CT.

College’s will likely deliver the BTEC Technicals in Digital Technology. This is due to it being the 3 GCSE option. Again, whether this will be a replacement for the old BTEC First ICT or an alternative, is unclear. Certainly it is a very different course indeed.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out on KnowItAll Ninja if you’re planning to deliver any of these courses. I’ll be developing them for the externally assessed unit and you’ll have presentations, videos & quizzes to help your students succeed.

You can check out our courses for Unit 1 The Online World and Unit 2 Technology Systems right now. Subscribe your students for the year for just £2 per student.

BTEC Level 2 and Level 3 Results Announced

Pearson have this week announced the results for this summers’ Edexcel BTEC First and National entries and it has highlighted some interesting trends across the STEM subjects.

More Students Studying STEM BTEC Subjects

The first trend of interest, and a positive one, is that the number of students choosing to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects is continuing to increase. This shows the government and industry drive towards these subjects is having a real impact on students choices which bodes well for the future.

At both level 2 and level 3 there has shown to be a 5% increase in students studying an ICT BTEC, with ICT maintaining it’s place as one of the five most popular subjects (along with Applied Science, Sports Science, Business and Health & Social Care).

The overall entries are stable with the previous year, though this obviously follows from a major drop on BTEC courses at level 2 in 2013 following the introduction of the examined elements.

Also of particular interest to ICT is that while male students are still more common on BTEC courses in this subject area (72,811 males compared to 26,006 females across Level 2 & 3) the female students had greater high achievement with 45% of females compared to 33% of male students achieving a Distinction* grade.

Reduced High Achievement in Edexcel BTEC Level 2

There is one piece of data that I am sure is a concern to teachers of BTEC First qualifications and that is the reduction of high achievement within the new NQF qualification structure.

In 2015, 40% of students studying the old Edexcel BTEC Level 2 ICT specification achieved a Merit grade or better. This compares to just 20% of students studying the new NQF BTEC Level 2 ICT specification.

BTEC Level 2 Information and Creative Technology Percentage of Merit to Distinction* grades.
BTEC Level 2 Information and Creative Technology Percentage of Merit to Distinction* grades.

Undoubtedly part of this is teachers getting used to delivering on a the new specification, it was such a change from the previous one that it required completely new assignments and classroom resources which would have required a huge amount of extra work on teaching staff.

However one does also have to look at the impact of bringing in the external assessments into the qualification and how this has impacted on final results of students studying BTEC Level 2 courses.

While BTEC don’t release information on individual unit performance a quick straw poll of teachers delivering on the NQF BTEC Level 2 Information and Creative Technology has shown that in Unit 1 The Online World and Unit 2 Technology Systems students are very rarely achieving distinction grades.

In fact the vast majority of students are achieving U, L1 Pass and Pass grades in these units.

This means that those students who achieve U and L1 Pass grades then need to achieve a Merit to Distinction grade in Unit 3 in order to achieve at least an overall Pass at Level 2.

You can see some improvements from the 2013/14 results to the 2014/15 results which shows teachers are getting more used to the specification (an increase from 14% to 20% of students achieving a Merit or better). However there is still a long way to go to start matching up with results of old.

While many have welcomed the extra academic rigour you have to be concerned that around 15% of students who complete the course are achieving beneath a level 2 pass.

This would compare to just 0.1% of students on the old specification (note: obviously the old specification did not include a L1 Pass grade, so this is U grades only).

Improving NQF ICT BTEC Level 2 Results

Luckily there are a number of resources being released to support the delivery of Unit 1 The Online World and Unit 2 Technology Systems, not least KnowItAll Ninja which offers gamified revision to students studying the BTEC Information and Creative Technology.

If you aren’t currently using KnowItAll Ninja for your BTEC ICT Level 2 revision then you should have a look right now.