TAUNTON Deane MP Rebecca Pow has called for BTEC career-focused qualifications to be retained.

Her comments came after plans were announced to withdraw funding for most BTECS and other applied general qualifications from 2024.

Speaking in a debate in Parliament yesterday (Monday, July 18), she described them as them as invaluable for students and a steppingstone to successful careers.

In her House of Commons intervention, Ms Pow said: "BTEC courses have transformed the lives of hundreds of students from the outstanding Richard Huish College and Bridgwater and Taunton College who have progressed on to further academic studies or into jobs especially in the health sector, teaching, construction and IT and many link directly into the needs of business.

"There is also a big uptake from those with special needs and disability and from deprived areas.

"Scrapping opportunities that the BTEC provides will leave many students without a viable pathway at the age of 16 and will hamper progress to higher education or skilled employment.

"I support the Government’s plans to have a more tailored focus on skills linking to employment, but let’s not throw out options or indeed a system that in many cases is working well."