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Apprenticeship Standards (England)

Under the Apprenticeship Reforms, new Apprenticeship Standards will replace the old Specifications for Apprenticeship Standards in England (SASE) Frameworks.  

It is expected there will be between 600-800 new Apprenticeship Standards, compared to the current 250 SASE Frameworks.

Some of these new Standards are already available for delivery; so at present there is a cross-over period where some new Standards are being delivered alongside the SASE Frameworks. However, once a new Standard is in place, the outdated Framework which it replaces will be discontinued as soon as it’s practical to do so.

We expect the full switchover to take place by 2020, although this date is subject to change.

New Standards or old Frameworks – what’s the difference?

Each occupation will now have its own new Apprenticeship Standard linked to a specific occupational level. The new Trailblazer apprenticeships which are defined by these new Standards are rigorous, challenging and require the apprentice to undertake a minimum of one year’s training.

Individual Standards can be underpinned by National Occupational Standards (NOS). This decision is made as the Standard is being developed by the Trailblazer group. When a Standard follows NOS, it’s likely that it will be similar in content and delivery to the SASE Framework which it replaces.

Trailblazer Apprenticeship infographic 2

See a more detailed side-by-side comparison of the old Frameworks and the new Standards.

New Apprenticeship Standards are characterised by the introduction of end-point assessment replacing mandatory qualifications.


On-programme training and learning  

On-programme training and learning needs to develop the apprentice’s knowledge, skills and behaviours – as required by the Standard.

The programme is for a minimum of one year, and leads to end-point assessment.

The programme must clearly set out progression milestones, which may incorporate assessment. Full requirements will be set out in the Apprenticeship Standard.

Ofsted will be responsible for quality assuring on-programme delivery.

Implications for providers and employers:

  • Where there are no mandatory qualifications, providers will need to design on-programme delivery from a less structured starting point than they would from a programme which does include a qualification
  • Employers can choose to play a greater role in on-programme training and learning, with support from providers

Changes to on-programme training and learning

On-programme training and learning comprises the following new elements:

No mandatory requirement for qualifications

Apprenticeships are no longer defined by qualifications, as there is now no mandatory requirement.

The exception is if qualifications are required for a specific occupation, such as under a Licence to Practice (LTP).

However, qualifications can be built into a Standard by the Trailblazer group as they are developing the Standard – either as a recommendation, or as a mandatory requirement.

Implications for providers and employers:

Unless a specific qualification has been written into the Standard, employers and providers can:

  • Choose any relevant qualification of any size – such as a Technical Certificate, NVQ, or combined qualifications
  • Develop a programme that doesn’t include qualifications

Maths and English

All Trailblazer apprenticeships require learners to develop their Maths and English.

The Standard will state the level required. If the apprentice has already achieved this prior to the apprenticeship, they will be supported to work towards the next level.

If they have not already achieved the level required, Maths and English are taken as part of the apprenticeship programme. Typically:

  • Level 2 apprenticeships require Maths and English at Level 1. Apprentices must then be supported to work towards Level 2. They must attempt the qualifications, although they do not have to pass 
  • Level 3 apprenticeships require Maths and English at Level 2. Apprentices must then be supported to work towards Level 3

However, it will be important to check the Standard, as there may be some variation.

The SFA has confirmed that Maths and English will be funded separately to the rest of the apprenticeship components. 


New Apprenticeship Standards will cover behaviours, as well as knowledge and skills.

These will be outlined in the Standard and detailed in the assessment plan.

Behaviours will contribute to the end-point assessment outcome and grade.

The assessment plan will detail whether behaviours are either formally recognised, assessed separately, or integrated into other areas of assessment.

Implications for providers and employers:

  • The categories of behaviours specified in the Standard may vary across different occupations
  • Providers and employers will need the capability to develop apprentices’ behaviours, and may need tools to help facilitate this
  • Providers and employers will need to be aware of how behaviours will be measured and assessed, and the extent to which grades are influenced, or determined, by behavioural performance
  • Providers will need to determine how to assess behaviours in the workplace


Gateway to the end-point assessment  

Towards the end of the apprenticeship, employers and providers will ‘sign-off’ the apprentice as ready for the end-point assessment – this sign-off is the ‘gateway’.

Signing-off an apprentice indicates the employer and provider believe their knowledge, skills and behaviours are the level required to attain an apprenticeship.

A number of approaches are being used for the gateway, including qualifications, interviews, and a portfolio of work. The assessment plan will specify the approach for that Standard.

Implications for providers and employers

  • Employers may need support from providers to successfully determine the apprentice’s readiness for end-point assessment
  • Providers and employers will need to agree a method to sign-off the apprentice  


End-point assessment

End-point assessment replaces the existing model of continuous assessment resulting in qualifications. It’s one of the biggest changes to apprenticeships.

The assessment organisation and the assessor must be independent of, and separate from, the training provided by the provider and employer.  

Implications for providers and employers

  • Providers and employers will need to consider the implications of working with independent end assessment organisations, along with preparing the apprentice for the gateway to end-point assessment. Find out more about end-point assessment 


As part of the end-point assessment, the apprentice is graded.

Grading methodology varies per Standard. There are various grading models emerging, including some grading of on-programme assessments. 

Implications for providers and employers:

  • Providers and employers will need to give feedback to apprentices during the training process, so that progress can be monitored
  • Providers and employers will need to refer to the assessment plan for the Apprenticeship Standard they are delivering



Apprentices will be awarded certification by the Federation for Industry Skills & Standards (FISSS), as with the current SASE Framework apprenticeships.

The end assessment organisation will be responsible for making the application to the FISSS for the apprenticeship certification.

City & Guilds will also provide Qualified Apprentice certificates for the components of the apprenticeship which we assess – such as any qualifications, or the end-point assessment.

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