Apprenticeship Reforms – What do we already know about the quality arrangements?
Whilst information continues to emerge on the Apprenticeship Levy for large businesses and funding arrangements for small businesses, the elephant that only appears to have one foot in the room, is clarification relating to any changes that may take place to manage the ongoing quality of apprenticeships. With a government agenda that talks of growth and quality, this latter dimension is critical if we are to make the headway that is required to implement the apprenticeship reforms from the perspectives of employers, apprentices and apprenticeship training providers.
Here is a summary of what we already know in an emerging picture.
- The formation of the Institute for Apprenticeships
The over-arching remit of the IfA is ‘to support employer-led reforms and regulate the quality of apprenticeships’. This statutory body will have the powers to undertake quality and approval functions in relation to apprenticeship standards and assessment plans as well as powers in relation to wider quality assurance functions, including making arrangements for assessing the quality of the end point assessment for each apprenticeship. More information can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/institute-for-apprenticeships-enterprise-bill-factsheet
Shadow arrangements for the IfA have not been entirely plain sailing with the original Chair leaving and details of the replacement announced last week as the former Barclays chief executive Anthony Jenkin http://feweek.co.uk/2016/06/09/shadow-chair-and-operating-officer-finally-installed-at-the-institute-for-apprenticeships/
- Apprenticeship Quality Statement
As part of the apprenticeship reforms, the government published an Apprenticeship Quality Statement in March 2015 which you can find here:
In summary it states:
- Ofsted and Ofqual will continue to play an essential role in the quality of apprenticeships, Ofqual in helping to ensure regulated qualifications are good enough and Ofsted in inspecting and reporting on the quality of apprenticeships – including observing apprentices in their workplace as part of their wider provider inspection regime. There may also be alternative assessment oversight arrangements where employer groups have chosen not to use Ofqual. As the number of degree apprenticeships increases QAA will also take on an apprenticeship quality role
- Statement of Commitment – an agreement between the employer, apprentice and provider which sets out the roles and responsibilities of each of the parties involved. This will need to be completed before any Government funding is released. It will sit alongside and complement the existing Apprenticeship Agreement, which acts as the employment contract between the employer and the apprentice.
- Whistleblowing hotline – an option for anyone involved in an apprenticeship – not just the apprentice – to raise concerns about any element of how it is being delivered.
- Performance tables – exploring how apprenticeship results can be reflected in performance tables from 2018 for 16-19 year olds, alongside apprenticeship success rates.
- The Register of Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations – in addition to the Register of Training Providers referenced above, the SFA has opened an additional register of apprenticeship assessment organisations. Assessment organisations will need to provide information about how they will quality assure the products and services they offer to help employers make an informed decision. The register will be launched shortly.
- Outcome based success measures – The new outcome based success measures (a set of measures looking at progression, destinations – including into sustained employment and sustained learning following the course – and earnings) will be used alongside success rates to create minimum standards against which a provider’s performance will be monitored in future. The intention to publish a consultation in summer 2015 does not appear to have taken place. It was due to set out how these new minimum standards might work, including requirements on providers to publish information on their own websites.
In our next blog post on quality measures related to the Apprenticeship Reforms we will explore the key questions that still remain unanswered and the internal quality assurance measures apprenticeship training providers may wish to consider.
Mesma provides a quality improvement software platform and supporting consultancy for schools and further education providers. More information is available at mesma.co.uk