From education to employment

On-programme planning for new apprenticeships

The following is an extract from the 2nd edition of The best assessor’s guide (apprenticeships edition) due for publication this October which has been revised to include changes to practice brought about by the RQF and new apprenticeships.

If you are responsible for planning teaching, learning and on-programme assessment towards the on-programme element of apprenticeships, you may find the following stages helpful. (It’s worth saying that the same stages apply to planning any programme of teaching and learning that involves on, near and off-job vocational training.)

1. List the skills, knowledge and behaviours in the apprenticeship standard. (When you have completed your programme plan, go through it and make sure you have covered all of these.)

2. Group the skills, knowledge and behaviours into common topic areas. Don’t be surprised if you have several that don’t fit anywhere, or if you discover generic skills, behaviours and/or areas of knowledge that underpin all others. (If this happens, it’s fine for them to recur, but think in terms of contextualising them within the topic area you have identified.) You are aiming for a mix of knowledge, skills and behaviours within each topic area: don’t plan for each standard in isolation.

3. When you have covered all the standards, set overall aims and learning objectives for each topic: these will become the basis of your session planning.

4. Remember to include English and mathematics teaching by identifying where these occur naturally within the work tasks the apprentice does. Next, identify how you will embed and/or contextualise the teaching linked to both areas, then make links to the relevant qualifications.

5. Choose delivery methods to suit the topics. Generally speaking, you are aiming for a variety of methods to engage learners and maintain their motivation. The area or domain of learning also has a bearing on the method you choose (for example, you wouldn’t choose an assignment to deliver skills’ teaching).[1]

6. Make sure you include any gateway requirements, such as vocational or ‘licence to practice’ qualifications. It may be that these involve discrete training input from other training providers. Identify the points at which the apprentice would need to achieve these and remember to allow time for them to take place within your overall programme plan.

7. Add any teaching and learning requirements of vocational qualifications the apprentice must achieve as part of the on-programme delivery. This will be in the form of off-job training, and formal, on and near-job learning.

8. Put the topics and main methods of delivery into a logical sequence, including any areas of training that may overlap (for example, if more than one training provider is involved). Add dates and timings.

9. Identify key points at which the learner’s progress and achievement will be monitored and assessed formatively, for example, at the end of a period of workshop training through use of a practical test, or through the setting of work such as developmental projects or assignments linked to their places of work.

10. Identify the ways in which the employer will be involved in formal teaching, learning and/or coaching during the apprentice’s on-programme learning.

11. Include formal preparation and practice for end-point assessment throughout. Make sure you allow plenty of lead-in time so that apprentices get used to practising under test conditions, and don’t leave it all until the very end of the programme.

12. Check your planned programme against the end-point assessment plan. Make sure that the training, formative assessment and practice will prepare the apprentice to meet all the necessary requirements of independent assessment at the end of the programme.

Remember to work out the true cost to you of individual elements of the training and end-point assessment, particularly if you plan to outsource these or if they underpin any service-level agreements you may make with employers. For example, the assessment plan may specify a two-hour observation of performance under test conditions which may take half a day of the assessor’s time.

You will also find help with ways of preparing learners for tests and how to integrate these into the planning process in the guide.

[1] For more information on curriculum planning and the strengths and weaknesses of different methods of delivery, refer to Read, H with Gravells, A. (2015), The best vocational trainer’s guide.


Apprenticeship standard: The knowledge, skills and behaviours agreed by employers that apprentices must meet.

Assessment plan: Details of end-point assessment: what it comprises; the assessment methods to be used; how grading will be applied; requirements for end-point assessors and quality assurance.

Gateway requirements: requirements that the apprentice must meet before they can proceed to end-point assessment.

Near-job training: Coaching or formal training that takes place in the workplace context as the learner carries out their day-to-day tasks.

On-programme assessment: Assessment carried out during the on-programme element of the apprenticeship, including initial, formative and summative assessment.

Go to to see sample pages from Hilary’s guides.

Hilary Read publications best Assessor guide 750 pixels

CPD events for practitioners on getting ready for apprenticeships

Here are details of how to book for Hilary’s CPD events on preparing for apprenticeships.

14th October, Newcastle: Preparing for apprenticeships: programme planning, assessment and quality assurance

with Ann Gravells, hosted by 3AAA. Click here to book:

Delivering the new Health and Adult Care Apprenticeships at Levels 2, 3, 4 and 5

with St Christopher’s Hospice:

18th October, Central London

15th November, Leeds

 2nd December, Leicester

13th December, Bristol

Click here to book:

Hilary also runs tailor-made training days in house for training providers. You can contact her by email at [email protected]



Related Articles