LAST year, Bridgwater & Taunton College became one of the first further education institutions in the country to offer the new T Level qualification.

The college’s Taunton campus started offering the new post-GCSEs qualification, which is the equivalent of three A Levels, in September 2020. 

One student who started working towards a T Level last year says he is 'really enjoying' the hands-on nature of the course, while a college tutor has emphasised the value of gaining workplace experience while still in education. 

The two-year T Level courses focus on vocational skills and aim to help students into skilled employment, higher study, or apprenticeships by combining classroom learning with an in-depth industry placement.

T Level students spend 80% of their time in the classroom and 20% of their time with their placement provider putting the taught content into practice. 

The courses, which are assessed through a combination of examinations and a practical skills test, have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses to ensure the content meets the needs of their industries 

Thrilokesh Ramakrishnan, a second-year student on a digital T Level course at Bridgwater & Taunton College, is enjoying the practical nature of the course, which drew him to study a T Level rather than venture down the more traditional A Level or apprenticeship routes.

He is particularly enjoying learning about programming and putting those skills into action on placement at Carrier Pigeon, a Taunton-based digital advertising agency.

He said: “It’s really good. I really enjoy the practical aspects, especially with the industry placement.

“It’s enjoyable how it’s not all theory. It’s more hands-on in that way.”

He added: “The main thing that appealed to me about the T Level was the industry placement.

“Being able to get work experience while at college was one of the main reasons why I chose to do a T Level instead of A Levels.”

At Carrier Pigeon, he creates social media posts, works on advertising campaigns – including recording audio and video content for them – and uses editing software.

The work he has created during his T Level can be seen throughout Taunton town centre on digital screens Carrier Pigeon uses to promote local businesses.

Offering advice to current year 11s who will be considering their next steps, Thrilokesh said: “If you don’t just want to do theory and if you want to get work experience while at college, then the T Level would be good for you.” 

Somerset County Gazette: PLACEMENT: Bridgwater & Taunton College T Level students workingPLACEMENT: Bridgwater & Taunton College T Level students working

When T Levels launched last year, Bridgwater & Taunton College offered the qualification in three major sectors.

The college’s offering of T Levels expanded this year as more courses launched nationally, and more courses are set to be added next year.

David Matravers, course leader in Digital T Levels at Bridgwater & Taunton College, believes the new qualification’s emphasis on work experience sets it apart from other options.

He said: “It’s a really good opportunity, especially in the current climate of work where lots of young people are getting refused work because of their lack of experience in the workplace.

“The whole purpose of the T Level is to allow them to gain that experience.”

Mr Matravers currently has 15 first-year T Level students on his digital pathway and 15 second-year students.

Because the courses were only launched last year, he says they are “fully up-to-date” – something that is vital with digital technology evolving so rapidly – and will help students get jobs.

“As opposed to more traditional level three courses like a BTEC or A Levels, T Level students get to go out to an employer for a significant amount of time – 315 hours, or about nine weeks,” he said.

“They fully engross themselves in what it’s like in working life, rather than just being sat in the classroom all the time.

Mr Matravers added: “The main reason that people come to college is to get employed so, when we offer T Levels in every single area, it will give them that experience and allow them to develop those skills that they don’t necessarily learn in the classroom.  

“That’s what I’m seeing in students now, especially the second years that have done their industry placement.

“Their attitude towards work is so different now that they have seen what it’s like out there, and that’s the experience that you can’t get on other courses.”

Students on a digital T Level pathway at the Taunton campus have carried out digital at a range of companies including Numatic International – maker of the Henry vacuum cleaner – and Enmore Golf Club.

Some of his students have been offered part-time paid work at their placement provider after carrying out their unpaid placement.

Thrilokesh and some of his coursemates completed their 315 hours at Carrier Pigeon.

Oliver Pyle-Santini, managing director at Carrier Pigeon, told the County Gazette how much the placement students have helped his business.

Carrier Pigeon uses digital screens to promote start-up, out-of-home and local independent businesses.

In the last academic year, the business had four T Level students carrying out placements there, two of whom have transferred over to this year.

He also has one new student from Bridgwater & Taunton College working with him this year.

Last year, Oliver also had an Exeter College student on placement with him.  

Alongside creating advertising content for clients, his placement students helped develop the agency’s website.

He said the students were willing to learn and could be taught new skills quickly.  

“These guys all came in with open minds and open hearts, and that was really appealing for me to have,” he said.  

“A lot of the software and tech that we’ve built now, I wouldn’t have built without them being there and influencing me.

“Working with students has been really eye-opening for me.

“Teenagers have less of an idea of limitation because of the time that they’ve got in front of them and because of the technological advancements that they’ve lived with.

“What that gives me is a bit of a window into what’s happening going forward.

"Being a tech company, that’s really useful to see almost a glimpse into the future.

Speaking about his working relationship with Bridgwater & Taunton College, he said: “I can’t speak highly enough or often enough about the college.

“They embraced my quirkiness – I’m not your average nine-to-five person – and were really keen to engage with me directly.”

Somerset County Gazette: NEXT LEVEL: T Levels were introduced last year and will continue to expandNEXT LEVEL: T Levels were introduced last year and will continue to expand

Course leader Mr Matravers has recommended that school students who may be interested in a T Level programme concentrate on their GCSEs, especially maths and English, and try and contact local businesses they would be interested in doing a placement with – or even volunteer with them.

The National Careers Service has all the information and advice about the choices on offer so young people can choose the best path for them. For more information, visit

For more information about studying T Levels at Bridgwater and Taunton College, visit