Here are our five tips to ensure your new apprenticeship programme meets our standards and is approved efficiently
If you plan to run an apprenticeship programme for a profession regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), you must seek regulatory approval for that programme, even if you already run a similar programme.
Education providers have been able to adapt quickly to deliver apprenticeship programmes, and our standards enable and support these developments and changes. To protect the public, we must apply our regulatory standards in considering proposals for these new programmes.
After analysing outcomes from our assessments of Higher and Degree Apprenticeship programmes up to January 2019, we have produced guidance to help you set up apprenticeship programmes for the professions we regulate.
When developing a programme, we suggest you focus on the following five areas.
Engage HCPC early
If we need to visit your new apprenticeship programme, the process will be run along our normal estimated nine-month timescale. The approval process can take longer than this if there are significant issues with the provision. From our experience, we generally identify more issues with apprenticeship programmes than for other programmes.
Define the detail of your partnership arrangements
The relationship between education provider and employer will often work in a different way to more traditional undergraduate programmes. This is due to the shifting influence of the employer – they supply learners, but are also the funder (and therefore ‘customer’) for apprenticeship programmes.
When developing your partnership arrangements, ensure you:
- strategically position the groups involved, including defining who owns the training;
- secure formal commitment from employers to supply apprentices (and therefore funding) to the programme;
- agree how operational responsibilities for elements of the programme work (for example admissions decisions and allocation of practice experience); and
- make clear how you effectively quality assure practice-based learning at the employer.
Ensure your resources will work for apprentices, alongside any existing learners
As apprentice learners are often in their workplace for the majority of their training, they may consider this institution their ‘home’ institution. Therefore, apprentice learners will often need to be more independent in their learning, and may need support with this. It may be more difficult for apprentices to access support from you, as they will be doing so remotely, or they might be unclear about where to access support. Some learners might also have individual support needs. They may be returning to training after many years. Others may have recently achieved Further Education qualifications and decided to take an employment route into the profession.
The resources you have in place for existing provision may be a good starting point to support apprentices, but you will need to ensure these resources are being used effectively to support both groups of learners.
Ensure your pedagogical approach works with your method of delivery
Apprentice learners spend time in the academic setting and in formal ‘practice placements’. But they also spend time undertaking paid duties at their employer, which is the biggest difference to more traditional undergraduate training models.
To become professionals, apprentices need support to contextualise this work within their training. Therefore, you need to ensure their experience in their place of work and in any formal ‘placements’ helps them to achieve the learning outcomes.
You will need to think differently about how you deliver academic components of the programme. Consider practicalities, such as how to timetable any sessions that will be shared with more traditional learners and the appropriate method of delivery for academic components. You might decide to deliver modular content via e-learning, but this might present challenges, when that content is normally delivered via face-to-face lectures and tutorials.
Align your curriculum and assessment to requirements of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, while remaining within HCPC requirements
It can be challenging to integrate the End Point Assessment (EPA) into the programme, if the trailblazer group is taking that assessment approach. When the trailblazer develops the standard and EPA, we feed into the process and provide support so the standard aligns with our regulatory standards.
In our reviews to date, education providers with existing provision were using all or some of the same modules for apprenticeship programmes, or were amending their existing modules in small ways. Almost all providers noted that learning outcomes and assessment strategy would reflect existing programmes.
We need to ensure programmes are assessing that apprentices meet the relevant standards of proficiency, and so need to make programme-level judgements when there are changes in this area.