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Reducing #Apprenticeship Duration in Recognition of Prior Learning

The purpose of this guidance is to inform training providers, employers and apprentices about the need for, and importance of, initial assessment (IA) and recognition of prior learning (PL) – specifically:

Key points:

  1. Recognition of prior learning extends beyond English, maths and existing qualifications;
  2. All the knowledge, skills and behaviours set out in the standard should be considered in reviewing the prior learning of the apprentice;
  3. Recognition of prior learning is part of the learner eligibility assessment;
  4. Apprenticeships could be poor value for money and unnecessarily long if training covers areas that the apprentice already knows, and public funding should not be used for learning which is not new;
  5. Initial assessment is vital to ensure high-quality apprenticeships and Ofsted inspections look for evidence of a robust initial assessment.

This guidance provides additional information to support initial assessment of prior learning in accordance with the policy intent and the apprenticeship funding rules.

What is an initial assessment?

Before an apprenticeship begins, the main training provider must assess the individual’s prior learning to establish the ‘starting point’, or baseline, of the apprentice. This informs how much of the apprenticeship training content the individual requires. It checks that the apprenticeship is an appropriate training programme for the individual.

What counts as prior learning?

In recognising prior learning, the following should be considered against the knowledge, skills and behaviours set out in the standard or framework:

  • Work experience (this is particularly important if the apprentice is an existing employee);
  • Prior education, training or associated qualification(s) in a related sector subject area (this goes beyond just English and maths); and
  • Any previous apprenticeship undertaken

How does recognition of prior learning feed into funding negotiations?

The funding band of the apprenticeship is based on an apprentice requiring the full content of the apprenticeship, and in the case of standards this means all the listed knowledge, skills and behaviours.

ESFA funding rules state that the apprenticeship content, duration and price must be reduced where the individual has relevant prior learning. Prior learning must be factored into the price that is negotiated between the provider and the employer: apprenticeship funding must not be used to pay for, or certify, the delivery of existing knowledge, skills and behaviours as this represents poor value for money. There are audit checks to ensure a price reduction has been made to account for prior learning and the reduced training content required. To meet the ESFA funding rules, the training element within the apprenticeship must have a minimum duration of 12 months with at least 20% off-the-job training.

Where there is prior learning, the content and duration of the apprenticeship must be reduced to reflect this. The new (reduced) duration must still meet the minimum threshold of 12 months. At least 20% of the paid hours for the new (reduced) duration must be spent on off-the-job training.

Apprenticeships: initial assessment to recognise prior learning


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