Compliance for apprenticeship providers has three main pillars. Learning providers need to ensure that they are achieving the standards required by Ofsted, complying with the funding requirements laid out by the ESFA, and can provide evidence to support their position on the Apprenticeship Provider and Assessment Register (APAR).
Why is apprenticeship compliance important?
Apprenticeship compliance is important because it safeguards the independent training provider’s (ITP) funding claims. It also attracts both apprentices and employer partners by demonstrating the quality of the programmes they provide. To fulfil requirements, ITPs must have a compliant apprenticeship management system and produce accurate apprenticeship compliance reporting.
Apprenticeship compliance checklist
There are several aspects to consider when ensuring overall apprenticeship compliance. The following will be taken into account in the assessment of all apprenticeship training providers:
- The outcomes of Ofsted reports.
- Apprentice achievement rates, apprentice retention and withdrawal rates (these will be compared to other providers who offer similar programmes).
- Employer and apprentice ratings.
Accountability is checked through the Independent Learner Records submitted by the training provider, and feedback provided by employers (and soon apprentices) through the apprenticeship service. The accuracy of data is fundamental. ITPs should be checking their data periodically to ensure that what they are submitting is a true representation of their provision.
Quality: the role that Ofsted plays
Ofsted (the office for standards in education) inspects services that provide education for learners of all ages, including apprenticeship training providers. Ofsted’s reports determine the reputation that a training provider will have with learners and employers. They ensure that the ITPs offering “meets the needs of learners and employers”, and that the provider continues to improve their programmes. Ofsted reports are looked at by the ESFA when assessing apprenticeship funding claims, and help to “provide accountability for the public money used to fund apprenticeships”.
Ofsted inspectors grade the following:
- The quality of education and training.
- Leadership and management.
- Behaviour and attitudes.
- Types of provision offered.
Any provider that receives a grade from Ofsted of ‘inadequate’ will be removed from the Apprenticeship Provider and Assessment Register (APAR).
Apprenticeship Provider and Assessment Register (APAR)
APAR compliance is essential for ITPs hoping to receive government funding. There are two ways to become registered, both require the organisation to receive an invitation from the ESFA. The first option is for the ITP to demonstrate they can fill a training gap or a gap in provision. The second is to be nominated by an employer as a preferred supplier. In the second case, the employer must be unable to fulfil their training requirements with an existing supplier.
APAR requires providers to evidence their capacity and expertise, as a marker of the quality they will deliver to apprentices and employers. Any providers who have not been actively delivering programmes for a rolling six month period will be removed from the register. Similarly, providers with “inadequate Ofsted grades” will be removed. This means they will no longer be eligible to receive EFSA funding.
Funding: the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)
To receive funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), ITPs are subject to a thorough assessment which includes an inspection of Ofsted records and confirmation of their status on the Apprenticeship Provider and Assessment Register (APAR). Much of the data that the ESFA requires ITPs to collect is data that they should be collecting anyway as part of the process of delivering a high quality apprenticeship. To ensure this is the case and that the data is available if it is requested, ITPs should make sure that they have an EFSA compliant delivery system.
Key challenges facing compliance teams
To hit all of the points of compliance an independent training provider needs to hit, they have to measure, record and share a significant quantity of data. As compliance to one part often depends on another, the paper trail can get confusing extremely quickly.
Compliance requirements start before the apprenticeship begins, with the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). The accurate mapping of every apprentice’s skills and qualifications needs to be complemented with proof of their progress and attainment, documented in their Independent Learner Record (ILR). Both are required by the EFSA to secure funding, and therefore to appear on the APAR.
Keeping tabs on every element of compliance requires a detailed apprenticeship compliance checklist. Even better than that would be an automated, end-to-end apprenticeship compliance system.
Achieving compliance through an end-to-end apprenticeship management system
Aptem Apprentice is an award-winning, complete end-to- end apprenticeship delivery platform. From remote eligibility checking, compliant digital enrolment, and full eLearning delivery with multiple programme integrations, through to sophisticated reporting and data analytics, Aptem Apprentice addresses it all in one intuitive system.
Aptem’s Recognition of prior learning calculator – automates the tasks associated with adjusting funding values for a learner on an apprenticeship programme, who has recognised prior learning. This eliminates errors, reduces admin resource and drives compliance.
“Over time we are customising the system to our requirements. The flexibility of this system is invaluable to us and it has helped us to improve our systems and processes. Issuing and tracking compliance documents has been so much easier – our Compliance Officer loves Aptem. She can see everything in one place and the status of each item. Overall it’s very easy to use the system and find the things we need.”
Dominic Scott, CRM/LMS Manager, Bradford College
If you would like to talk to a member of our team about how Aptem supports nearly 200 apprenticeship providers with apprenticeship compliance, please get in touch.