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ViewPoint: How Should Providers Interpret the ‘new’ ESFA Guidance on Prior Learning?
March 20, 2019

It is an add-on rather than an update – and could be an attempt to claw back funding or scare providers into discount pricing, says Simon Ashworth, Chief policy officer, Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Earlier this week the ESFA published guidance on the recognition of prior learning. It’s important to note this is additional guidance, rather than specifically new or updated funding rules. With apprenticeship funding now finally acknowledged as running in short supply, there may be more emphasis on how providers account for prior learning in order to claw back funding or scare providers into discount pricing.

Ten years ago the sector experienced a crackdown on providers claiming additional learning support. A few providers were made an example of and others quickly scaled back their financial claims but continued to offer the additional support while not getting paid for it. Let’s hope we don’t see a repeat of the latter.

The previous iterations of the funding rules were much more specific about tackling “embedded qualifications” with fixed rates of funding reductions that governed the apprenticeship frameworks, which were all built around qualifications. Read more

ViewPoint: Top Tips for Recruiting the Best Apprentices
March 14, 2019

With the end of the academic year approaching, recruitment for apprenticeships is likely to be the focus of many L&D managers. FrancesFrances Nicholson NicholsonHead Of Operations at National Skills Academy for Health,  shares her views on “how to get the cream of the crop”.

Be modern, social and mobile friendly
The young people of today have grown up in the digital age and are incredibly tech savvy so you need to engage with them through online platforms. You can reach out to the post-millennial generation through social media rather than simply relying on the Find an Apprenticeship website.

Use your recruitment strategy to try to engage people who might not have even considered apprenticeships yet. Link your social media posts to your careers site so prospective candidates can find out more about the culture of your organisation. Read more

Spring Statement 2019
March 14, 2019

The Chancellor has presented his Spring Statement to Parliament – here’s a summary of what he saidplaceholder

Education and skills

Ensuring people have the skills that employers need is vital to creating the workforce of the future. The Budget set out steps to equip people with the skills to succeed in the modern economy, and today the Chancellor announced:

  • updates to apprenticeship reforms announced at Budget that mean from April 1st employers will see the co-investment rate they pay cut by a half from 10% to 5%, at the same time as levy-paying employers are able to share more levy funds across their supply chains, with the maximum amount rising from 10% to 25%
  • to tackle period poverty in schools, the Department for Education will lead work to develop a national scheme in England to provide free sanitary products to girls in secondary schools
  • the government has appointed Professor Arindajit Dube to undertake a review of the latest international evidence on the impact of minimum wages, to inform future National Living Wage policy after 2020

Read more

The Trends of End-Point Assessment Methods Selected
March 13, 2019

The following research was carried out by Strategic Development Network (SDNStrategic Development Network (SDN)

The picture overall

End-point assessment is new for everyone. Most of those involved in trailblazer groups and end-point assessment delivery would agree that assessment plan design has improved as we’ve gone along.

So what, in general, is the approach now taken by trailblazer groups? Most assessment plans include an average of three assessment methods. These can be broken down into three broad categories: Read more

Getting On the New (tougher) #RoATP

The new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers has now been launched and providers currently on the Register will be invited to reapply before the year is out.

So, what do you need to think about before submitting your application? SDN Associates (and former ESFA Senior Managers) Karen Kelly and Anna Sutton give us their top 5 tips:

But first, what’s different about the new Register?

In short, it’s a more robust and stringent process. There are new questions and a greater emphasis of examples, so the ESFA can assess readiness to deliver.

The ESFA also want to see more evidence and detail – in particular, your policies, processes and procedures, such as an Employer Engagement process that wasn’t a requirement previously.

So, with that in mind, here are our top tips:

1. Make sure your application tells your story

The RoATP application is all about getting across how you will deliver excellent apprenticeship training for apprentices and businesses again and again. This means it’s important to articulate confidently why your apprenticeship service deserves to be on the Register. In the skills and education sector, we can often undersell ourselves – this application is not the place to be reserved, it’s your chance to shout about the great work you do, so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to deliver apprenticeships.

Having said that, it’s even more important to be sure your story is ready to be heard. By that we mean, don’t apply to the Register if you can’t meet all the criteria that is asked of you. Read the application thoroughly and use it to reflect on your practice and get your business up-to-speed before applying.

2. Collect examples of good practice

Throughout the application form you are asked for examples that demonstrate your good practice. This means it doesn’t matter if you’re re-applying to the Register or a complete newbie, you should be confident you have case studies that showcase your readiness before applying.

SDN has already supported several training providers through this process, and one of the first things we say to our clients is to read and understand what is required from the application before applying. It may be wise to spend the next three months collecting evidence and case studies before putting your first application attempt together.

3. The devil is in the detail

Throughout the application you are asked to submit various policies and procedures. It’s easy to go through these like a checklist… ‘Health & Safety policy? – Check!’, ‘Safeguarding policy? – Check!’, but do those documents tease out the information that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is looking for?

This is especially significant to applicants completely new to apprenticeships. You may have been successfully delivering commercial training for decades and have an up-to-date Health & Safety policy, but it should specifically reference apprentices in your application so the ESFA is confident you can support this type of learner sufficiently.

4. Live your practice and policies

If you do not have specific policies that you need for the application, it can be tempting just to buy an off-the-shelf document from a consultant or a bid writer. Whilst working with a third party like SDN can be a huge help… please, please, please make sure you have direct input into what is written about your business.

If you submit policies and procedures in your application that sound great, but do not reflect the processes you have in place, this can come back to bite you. Yes, you may get on to the Register in the short-term, but if there are problems with one employer or one apprentice and you have not followed the procedures you laid out in your application – the ESFA is quite within their right to ask questions as to why.

Make sure your application reflects what is happening on the ground and isn’t a wish list. If you’re not delivering the way the application expects you to, get ready first.

5. Get external support if you’re unsure

Whether you currently deliver apprenticeships, or have aspirations to do so – getting on, or maintaining your status on the Register could be critical to the success of your future plans – so it’s worth investing in!

You get two attempts per year at submitting a RoATP application. This means you can have a go at applying and still not be ruled out, but it can be a stressful period for you and your staff if you don’t get through first time.

For those that prefer the reassurance of a critical friend, why not work with an external organisation to critique your application or even help assess your readiness and guide you through the process? This could be another training/employer provider or an industry expert’s RoATP application service.

Former ESFA Senior Managers, Karen Kelly and Anna Sutton, Associates, SDN

4 Reasons Why You Should Adopt Blended Training
March 7, 2019

The following article is by Robin Singh, Technical Support Executive. Robin is an expert in various LMS and employee training Currently, he is a residentRobin Singh, Technical Support Executive learning management expert at ProProfs.

Every student is different. In recognizing that, educators not only accentuate the differences that exist between students of various ages or intellectual abilities, but also the fact that two persons can be at the same phase of physical and cognitive development and still have different needs, preferences, and approaches to learning.

Some acquire knowledge by listening, others thrive on visual cues. From these highly individual affinities stem different learning styles. Auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and reading/writing approaches to learning are only a few of them. Others are more hybrid and suggest combinations of learning techniques that vary from one person to another. Read more

The National Audit Office Report on the Apprenticeship Programme
March 7, 2019

Background to the report

The Department for Education is accountable for the apprenticeships programme, including securing value for money.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency is responsible for apprenticeships policy and funding, and for overseeing the delivery of apprenticeships. The apprenticeships programme is intended to help address two important problems: poor productivity in the United Kingdom compared with many international competitors; and a significant fall in employers’ investment in training over recent decades.

The programme aims to allow people in England to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for their occupation. An apprenticeship is a job that combines work with training. Apprentices can be new or existing employees. Apprenticeships are open to people over the age of 16, and are available at a range of levels, from GCSE-equivalent (level 2) to degree-equivalent (levels 6 and 7). An apprenticeship must last for at least 12 months, and the apprentice must spend at least 20% of their paid hours doing off-the-job training. This training may be delivered by an authorised provider, the employer or a combination of the two. Government contributes to the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment. Read more

Sector Response to Apprenticeships and Levy statistics: February 2019
March 4, 2019

28 February 2019 DfE published their Apprenticeships and levy statistics: February 2019

  • There has been 192,100 apprenticeship starts on the frameworks and new standards reported to date between August 2018 and December 2018 for the 2018/19 academic year, a 9.7 per cent increase compared to the equivalent period in 2017/18 (175,100).
  • At 31 January 2019, there have been a total of 16,400 accounts registered on the apprenticeship service.
  • We have seen 122,700 commitments recorded in the apprenticeship service for the 2018/19 academic year, compared to 98,000 recorded at the equivalent point last year for 2017/18. [A commitment is where a potential apprentice, who is expected to go on to start an apprenticeship, has been recorded on the Apprenticeship Service].

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:

“I’m thrilled to see the number of people starting apprenticeships has gone up by 9.7% on this time last year. This is good news and really highlights how employers up and down the country are realising the huge benefits apprenticeships are bringing to their business

“Apprenticeships offer people of all ages and backgrounds a high quality route to skilled employment with the option to train at every level. You get paid while you train and can start a great career in a huge range of professions like accountancy, nursing, teaching and law.

“I want as many people as possible to know about the amazing apprenticeship opportunities out there. Our new campaign ‘Fire it Up’ is playing a vital role in this, helping to challenge outdated perceptions and raising awareness of the huge variety of options available”.

Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) comments on the numbers

 ‘The funding issues have now made the availability of intermediate level apprenticeships for young people in SMEs across the country the biggest problem we face.  The answer is to make level 2 apprenticeships fully state funded whether the money comes from the levy or not.’

The AELP highlighted Intermediate level starts are at 5,800, down 23% from 2017 and 56% from 2016.  So less than half pre-Apprenticeship Levy.

Apprenticeship Opportunities in the Civil Service
February 25, 2019
Civil Service CareersCivil Service Careers





How to Get Behind National Apprenticeship Week 2019 #NAW19
February 25, 2019

The following article is by the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

With the start of the 12th annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW 2019) just around the corner, new resources to help the sector get behind the week have been published.

Highlighting the benefits of apprenticeships to employers, individuals, local communities and the wider economy, the ‘Blaze a Trail’ themed week, running from 4 to 8 March 2019, will see a range of activities and events being hosted across the country, aimed at challenging the outdated views many people still have about apprenticeships.

The week will also highlight the huge number of high-quality apprenticeship opportunities available at all levels around the country, in a huge variety of sectors, including aviation engineering, nursing, finance and policing. Read more

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