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【SCMP Education Post:What is BTEC?】Three Great Schools which offer BTEC qualifications

School Guide


A British Education offers Hong Kong children irrefutable academic breadth and choice. Among the most renowned qualifications are GCSEs, A-levels, IB and Pre-U. Yet, it is another qualification – the BTEC diploma – which is capturing the attention of pupils and university admissions administrators alike …


BTEC qualifications cover a range of subject disciplines and come in different levels right up level 7, which is equivalent to postgraduate study. Here, however, I will choose to focus on the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma, which is a secondary school leaving and vocational qualification equivalent to A-Levels.


Whereas A-levels are generally exam-based, level 3 BTEC Nationals are career-based vocational qualifications which provide students with the necessary skills for employment and Higher Education. Typical subject areas include Travel and Tourism and Engineering.


It is estimated that around 100,000 BTEC students apply to university every year


Level 3 BTECs can be studied alongside or instead of A-levels and the usual form of assessment is of a continuous nature – coursework and practical projects. Therefore, for Hong Kong pupils who do relish revising for exams, BTECs could be an interesting solution. Given the emphasis on project work and practical work-related activities, the BTEC develops key soft skills such as teamwork, presentation skills and critical thinking.


The standard 18-unit extended BTEC level 3 diploma is equivalent to three A-levels and universities are taking notice of the value of the qualification. For arts and practical degrees, there is an argument that BTECs can put students in a more advantageous position compared with A-level applicants, as they already have a portfolio of work to show off when applying. It is estimated that around 100,000 BTEC students apply to university every year, with the number continuing to increase.


With the aforementioned characteristics of the BTEC in mind, let us consider three UK boarding schools with offer interesting BTEC courses:


Sedbergh School

Established in 1525, the co-educational Sedbergh School is located in the town of Sedbergh in Cumbria. The School benefits from its stunning location, sandwiched as it is between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.


Sedbergh is one of the few schools which still strives for full boarding, and all of its traditional values and ethos seem to be in place. The School also has an enviable reputation for music and drama. Making the most of the idyllic location, outdoor pursuits and sport are also highly regarded.


While Sedbergh may not be a major provider of BTEC courses, it does still provide two compelling subject choices – BTEC Sport and Exercise Sciences and BTEC Business. The BTEC Sport option is a popular choice with pupils with around 30 students involved in the programme. As for the Business BTEC, Sedbergh strives to deliver the course in a practical way with a strong emphasis on businesses in the real world.


Millfield School

Millfield School is a co-educational independent school for ages 13-18. The school is located in the large village of Street, in the county of Somerset.


Millfield is a hotbed of activity and development. The School has recently benefited from a new Sports Pavilion and a new Equestrian XC Course. Plans are underway for the Millfield Centre for Enterprise at the Senior School where teachers will be able to use digital resources and classroom layouts to achieve a board room feel.


In terms of BTEC qualifications, there are three (multi A-level equivalent) courses available at Level 3 – for Art and Design (three A-level equivalent); Sport (two A-level equivalent) and Business (two A-level equivalent). Additionally, a BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Music Technology and a BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Information Technology are offered. These BTEC courses can be completed alongside up to three other courses in the Lower Sixth as they are only equivalent to a single AS/A-level.


Mount Kelly School

Set in Tavistock, Devon, Mount Kelly is a co-educational day and boarding school for children aged 3 to 18.


A school with high expectations of pupils and an enviable sporting pedigree, Mount Kelly also has a global outlook, with plans in place to open a Prep School in Hong Kong.


In terms of BTEC courses, Mount Kelly offers three variants of the BTEC in Sport Development and Coaching. The courses aid potential elite and non-elite athletes to learn about nutrition, psychology and fitness training, thus offering a healthy blend of practice and theory. Assessment for the BTEC Sport course includes written reports, podcasts and video blogs.


All in all, I have described three excellent schools which offer exciting BTEC courses for pupils who enjoy the practicality of learning and feel they are ready to specialise in a specific field of study.

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