From education to employment

Sequencing the #Apprenticeship Curriculum to Support Simultaneous Learning is Essential

Chris Jones, HMI Specialist Advisor for Apprenticeships, Ofsted

One of the key things about the education inspection framework, if we look at the quality of education judgment, there’s an element in there in terms of the intent, implementation and impact, about how well the curriculum is sequenced to ensure that a learner, or apprentice, gets the opportunity to learn what they need.

Some of that is about layering, some of that’s about sequencing, learning so that apprentices and learners have got time to revisit knowledge and skills.

In a sense, what we’re all looking for is that automaticity of response.

So that when you know something, you then think in a particular way, act in a particular way, in a vocational context, because that’s absolutely in your head.

You don’t have to think about it, you just say, “Okay, this is the situation. Yes, I’ll do it. I’ll do it this way, because I just know. I don’t how I know, I can’t remember learning it, but I know this”.

Therefore, that’s important. So, the curriculum has to be sequenced in a way to help learners to do that.

The challenge of developing English and mathematical skills

I think there’s another element of sequencing as well. That’s around the challenge of developing English and mathematical skills for apprentices, particularly where they need to get the level 2 qualification, or even where they need to study for their level 2 qualification but may not have to pass it.

It’s essential that the curriculum is sequenced effectively, and that learning happens early enough in an apprenticeship so that the apprentice has got time to learn what they need to.

There is no point in a sense just saying, “Oh, well, we’ll spend six months of the 12-month apprenticeship making sure that we’ve got the level 1, and then we’ll concentrate on the level 2 apprenticeship requirement”.

You might ask the question of whether or not that sequence is effective for that learner. Yes, they are developing and achieving the Level 1 functional skill that they need to pass a level 2 apprenticeship, but we know for the funding rules that they have to take the level 2 apprenticeship. They also have to learn enough.

Sequencing the curriculum to support learning

My view is that if you are going to take an examination, you should have enough learning in place to at least have a fair stab at passing the examination.

There’s no examination worth taking if you’re not expecting to pass it. If you are just told, “you don’t need to pass it, therefore, it’s not important”. The value is the qualification.

Therefore, the sequence of the curriculum should be: Learning what you need for level 2 should be happening at the same time as the apprentice is being trained, or being taught how to demonstrate, the skills at level 1.

The level 1 and level 2 shouldn’t be happening sequentially, this should be happening together in the sequence of learning.

Chris Jones, HMI Specialist Advisor for Apprenticeships, Ofsted

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