So recognising prior learning is key to refocusing your apprenticeship programme on learning outcomes.

Skills for Justice are leading experts in apprenticeship delivery for employers in the justice sector.

By looking at prior learning, employers can really understand how to help their apprentices develop effective skills and knowledge for improved learning outcomes throughout their training. Employers should carry out an initial assessment on all apprentices before their apprenticeship. This could save time, resource and money and make much more efficient use of levy funding, by tailoring your apprenticeship training based on individuals, not tick-boxes.

Prior learning can be previous education, training, qualifications and work experience, considered against the knowledge, skills and behaviours set out in the apprenticeship.

This initial assessment will help to establish the baseline for the apprentice. No-one wants the apprentice to spend time duplicating past learning and a robust initial assessment will mean the apprentice can then be both challenged and supported accordingly by the employer or training provider to learn the new knowledge, skills and behaviours required to reach the desired level of occupational competency.

This has several benefits for employers. Not only will your apprentices feel more fulfilled, show positive progress and learn the skills you need to continue to provide exceptional care and service, but it’s also a huge benefit for improving learning outcomes – key to the inspection criteria under Ofsted’s new focus.

An initial assessment is crucial as well for Ofsted inspections: inspectors use the individual’s baseline level to determine the ‘distance travelled’ during the apprenticeship. And this feeds into their assessment of the quality of training that employers are providing, meaning you have more chance of a ‘good; or ‘outstanding’ result, critical to being on the register of approved training providers (RoATP).

When is an Ofsted inspection likely to take place?

Normally within two years of when you first start delivering funded training (not the date you become registered as an approved training provider).

Ofsted will normally give two days’ notice of an inspection taking place  – so it’s important to start as you mean to go on when first assessing your apprenticeship needs, processes and training. You should always be ‘inspection-ready’.

Monitoring visits also take place in addition to full inspections as part of the new process, to assess employers’ improvements on an ongoing basis. If you’re a new training provider directly funded for delivering apprenticeships, rather than the usual full or short inspection, you should expect monitoring visits from Ofsted to continually assess your progress. Rather than being graded from ‘grade 1: outstanding’ to ‘grade 4: inadequate’, monitoring visits use a new judgement grading:

  • Insufficient progress
  • Reasonable progress
  • Significant progress

These judgements are awarded against each of the four themes, as well as an overall judgement being awarded.

Why is Ofsted important?

For employers in the public sector, where resource, time and money can be limited, the thought of preparing for Ofsted inspections could be daunting.

But not only is the inspection critical to help support the delivery of apprenticeships, anything other than ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ could be costly in terms of training costs and the apprenticeship levy. If you get the right advice from trusted experts early enough in your apprenticeship journey, you will be fully prepared for Ofsted inspections and can continue with developing highly skilled apprentices for your organisation.

The Apprenticeship Levy was launched in April 2017 and has with it a totally new landscape for apprenticeships. The levy has changed the way that private and public companies use apprentices and where responsibility lies in planning and delivery of training. Designed to give employers more influence into getting the right staff in the right roles and trained to the right standards, also brings about many technical challenges. Funding from the levy is for employers who run apprenticeships in England to pay for training and assessment for apprentices.

The Skills Funding Agency implemented the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) to ensure the correct standards are met by employers and to promote quality training for apprentices. RoATP acts as a recognition of quality, hence the need for Ofsted perform an inspection for any organisation who wishes to be registered and deliver apprenticeship training directly.

Ofsted inspection for apprenticeship training providers is an assurance of quality and standards, to help support apprentices and ensure employers are utilising funding effectively, to help meet their apprenticeship targets and of course improve staffing, retention and skills within the sector.

Skills for Justice are trusted partners, supporting employers with the new challenges around apprenticeship delivery – from standards and frameworks, right through to end-point assessments and quality assurance.

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