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How might the impending general election shape the post-16 qualification reforms?

Withdrawal of funding from post-16 qualifications will be one of the most significant reforms in recent times, and have a huge impact on the sector, but the impending general election creates great uncertainty around the future landscape. 

When will the next general election take place? 

The Prime Minister has the power to set the date of the next election. In theory, this could be any time until the end of January 2025 – however, an election in December or January seems unlikely, given that polling suggests that this would be unpopular with the electorate.  

Although some commentators have suggested that we may see a spring election in May or June, most expect the election to be held in November.  

The timing of the election will be very important to the post-16 skills sector, given each of the major parties has indicated very different plans relating to this policy.  

What is the current state of the post-16 reforms?  

From August 2025, all Level 3 academic and technical qualifications must meet new criteria and all others will have funding approval withdrawn. Only qualifications which are deemed “necessary, high quality and have a clear purpose” will be approved.  

The reforms will mean that A Levels and T Levels become the ‘qualifications of choice’ at 16-19 – however, other technical and academic qualifications will also be available. 

At NCFE, our team of specialists is developing exceptional technical products that cater to the needs of providers, employers and learners. We believe that in the long term, we have a solution that will ensure that excellent qualifications will still be present and funded if the review goes ahead in full.  

How will a general election change the landscape for technical education?  

Depending on the results of the general election, the post-16 qualification reforms could take different paths. Let's explore the potential implications of three possible outcomes: 

If the Conservative Party remain in power 

If the Conservative Party remain in power, we’ll see the reforms go ahead in full, with a further round of defunding of qualifications which overlap with wave 3 and 4 T Levels in August 2025, and more reformed qualifications being launched.  

If the Labour Party wins power 

If the Labour Party win a majority, they’ve indicated they will pause and review the existing policy. If this happens before August, then the existing landscape will remain, however, if it’s after August, then some qualifications will have already lost funding, and it’s unknown whether Labour would look to restore funding to such qualifications.  

They’ve also said very little about whether they would continue to approve reformed qualifications in line with the review.  

What happens if it’s a hung parliament? 

A ‘hung parliament’, where no party wins an outright majority, would mean even more uncertainty. Parties could try and work together to form a coalition or govern by a simple majority on each issue (confidence and supply). However, in such a scenario, it’s likely that post-16 qualification reforms would not be a priority. 

It's clear that the future of post-16 qualification reforms hangs in the balance as the nation prepares to cast its votes. 

What can providers do now to secure a positive future?  

Talk to our experts. Our team is here to offer hands-on support and continuity for your learners and you can reach out for a no-obligation discussion with our specialists. Whether you're considering switching your provision or simply need guidance through the reforms, we're here to help.  You can book a consultation and talk to us today. 

Ready to find out more information about the reforms? You can also read our recent blog outlining 4 proactive steps that you can take during the post-16 reforms. 


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