What does the tl badge stand for? T Levels explained

Hint: It's the new national qualification to know about

a collage showing the T Level badge and education minister James Cleverly
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

Viewers have spotted Education Secretary James Cleverly wearing one on television during A Level results day and are wondering, what does the tl badge stand for?

We're used to seeing MPs in parliament wearing badges to promote certain causes and initiatives. From cancer charities to gender rights awareness. Most recently, Boris Johnson wore a wheat pin to throw his support behind #BackBritishFarmingDay.

Education Secretary James Cleverly is the latest government minister spotted wearing a badge of significance during A Level results day 2022. Emphasising two letters - TL - many are keen to understand what it represents. We explain the meaning behind the badge and how the scheme is being offered as an A Level alternative.

What does the tl badge stand for?

The letters tl stand for 'T Level' with the badge baring the official logo of the new learning initiative by the UK government. T levels are a 2-year qualification for 16 to 19-year-olds that teach technical skills (hence the 'T') which aim to prepare students for the world of work. Each T Level equates to 3 A Levels.

"T Level students spend 80% of the course in the classroom, learning the skills that employers need. The other 20% is a meaningful industry placement, where they put these skills into action," states the government website. "The government has developed T Levels to deliver world-class technical education and give you a new choice after GCSEs."

T levels official government logo

Credit: Gov.uk

This new education option is offered as an alternative to apprenticeships, A levels and other college courses for students aged 16+. 448 education facilities across the country are currently offering this qualification. 

You can check whether your local school is on board by searching your nearest T level provider here.

T level courses

As of September 2021, there are 10 different T Levels being offered. Though the Department of Education have promised that 23 different T Level courses will be available by 2023.

Current T Levels include:

  • Building services engineering for construction
  • Digital business services
  • Digital support and services
  • Design, surveying and planning for construction
  • Digital production, design and development
  • Education and childcare
  • Health
  • Healthcare science
  • Onsite construction
  • Science

Government ministers wearing the tl badge:

James Cleverly

Education secretary James Cleverly (appointed 5 July 2022) appeared on Good Morning Britain wearing the TL badge during an interview on A Level results day.

The 2022 A Level results day is also a big day for those studying the new qualification - as according to the government website: "around 1,000 students will receive T Level results for the first time".

"Today is also a really exciting time for our pioneering T Level students, as the first ever group to take this qualification will pick up their results. I have no doubt they will be the first of many and embark on successful careers," Mr Cleverly said in a statement".

He also wished everyone receiving their academic results today the best of luck. 

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Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi was rarely seen without the tl badge in interviews when he was Secretary of State for Education between 15 September 2021 – 5 July 2022. It's understood that the MP wore the badge to promote the initiative and spread awareness of the new qualification. Zahawi has since been appointed the Chancellor of the Exchequer (effective 5 July 2022).

Zahawi last wore a tl badge during an appearance on Good Morning Britain in January 2022. Though he was not discussing the T Levels but rather being interviewed over a different government matter.

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Mr Zahawi led the debate on T Levels in parliament during November 2021. This was as part of the second reading of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill in the House of Commons.

"I am a firm believer in T-levels," he said. "As I have said before, I want them to become as famous as A-levels, and I want to ensure that we get them right. As many young people as possible should have the advantage of studying for and successfully completing a T-level."

T-Levels has in the past caused controversy when the then-education secretary Mr Zahawi announced that the government were scrapping the requirements to study English and Maths.

Previously T Level students would need to pass their English and Maths GCSE in order to pass their T Level course. However, in January 2022 the government removed this as they thought the rule was preventing students from signing up to T Levels.

"We are absolutely clear that English and maths should remain central to T-level programmes," Zahawi said at the time. "But we do not want to unnecessarily inhibit talented students from accessing T-levels simply because of the additional hurdle that reaching level 2 in English and maths represents. That is why I can also announce today that we will remove the English and maths exit requirements from T-levels."

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Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.