This morning the government launched their long awaited Institute for Apprenticeships consultation.

With a January 31 deadline, you have less than four weeks to give your view on the Draft Strategic Guidance to the Institute for Apprenticeships.

Key functions for the Institute for Apprenticeship, which will be launched in April:

Standards development and approval
Currently the government manage the standards development and approval process. This will be taken on by the Institute.
> Ensure as swift a process for approving standards as possible
> Take on Government’s current role of quality assurance of standards
> Ensure that standards and assessment plans have been examined by ‘an independent third party’ before they can be approved
> Proactive support to employers who are developing standards and assessment plans to be a priority
> Take into account the Department for Education’s development of technical education routes  to ensure there is no duplication

Quality assurance of apprenticeship assessments
The Institute will play a role in checking quality and consistency of assessments offered by different assessment organisations against the same standard
> The Institute will be the external quality assurance (EQA) organisation in instances where alternatives (processes developed by employer groups, a Professional Body or Ofqual.
> The strategy states: “The Institute should consider how best to ensure that effective and high-quality EQA processes are available and are applied to all end-point assessments. It will need to satisfy itself that all options will ensure consistent assessment and require a high standard from all apprentices.”

Apprenticeship certification
This month the Skills Funding Agency took on responsibility for the certification of standards.
> The Strategy says the Institute will need to “assist in this oversight role, setting the parameters for the SFA to operate within, designing the certificate and ensuring the overall integrity and quality of the system. We will write to the Institute separately on the specific tasks we would like it to carry out in relation to certification.”

Funding advice
The Institute will provide the government with advice and assistance on apprenticeship funding, including:
> allocating individual apprenticeship standards to funding bands, both for new standards and in the context of Technical Education route reviews
> the current allocation of existing frameworks to funding bands and the effectiveness of additional support payments, such as those for younger apprentices
> how the allocation of apprenticeship standards to funding bands might be undertaken in the future

Policing the system
> “We would expect the Institute – through the way in which it fulfils its statutory duties – to discourage behaviour seeking to make a profit by delivering services that are not necessary and do not add value, and work to ensure the system as a whole is fair and consistent with the principles of the reforms.”

Other functions
> Annual reporting and success criteria. “The Institute may find it helpful to set out a number of success criteria to help them measure their progress, and the progress of the system overall, which can be supported by data and evidence”
> Review of Apprenticeship standards. “While there is flexibility and it is up to Institute to decide how it carries out these reviews, we would expect them to be comprehensive, including details of completions, destinations and progression, wage uplift, and feedback from providers, apprentices, assessment organisations and employers in particular. We would also expect that they check how the standard fits with the latest version of the relevant occupational map. The Institute should also consider how well the system as a whole is delivering successful apprenticeships which respond to the skills needs outlined in the industrial strategy and wider Government priorities like social mobility.”
> “Assisting with certain elements of the registers of training providers and assessment organisations” – although “the SFA will maintain responsibility for administration” of the register
> Working with partners, including  Ofsted, Ofqual, SFA, HEFCE and QAA and, in future, the Office for Students in a “leadership role in the context of apprenticeships”. Also working “with the devolved administrations to ensure the needs of employers who work across boarders are considered when standards are developed”.
> “Perhaps” setting up an ‘Apprenticeship Panel’ which reports directly to the Institute Board, “to ensure that Apprentices have an opportunity to have their say about the education and training they receive during their apprenticeships, and the chance to improve the experience of those who come after them.”


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