Seven strategies to develop your apprenticeship curriculum

There has been a lot of talk about curriculum planning since OfSTED launched the Education Inspection Framework in September 2019. Speaking with providers there is a mixed picture on curriculum development. Some are on top of this, some are confused and others have simply buried their heads in the sand and are hoping that the Quality of Education is just going to go away.

Why are we talking about curriculum planning?

We are talking about curriculum planning because education and training providers will be inspected by OfSTED using the EIF. This is a very different framework with inspectors focusing largely on the quality of education. This is the area where most “deep dives” will happen. Inspectors will want to see how curriculum plans for each programme are planned and sequenced. They will want to see the intent of each programme, how it is implemented, what the sequence of delivery is and what is the impact on learners.

Developing a curriculum

For many apprenticeship providers having a fully planned curriculum is a new planning requirement. Historically, providers have delivered against the outcomes and criteria of NVQs and diplomas and more recently apprenticeship standards. That was all fairly straight forward. Providers identified the units and planned training and assessment around them. Portfolios of evidence were created and assessors decided if the evidence met the criteria and if it did then the learner completed. OfSTED now wants to see something very different. It wants to see how a curriculum has been built around the needs of the learners and employers. It wants to see that the delivery has been sequenced in such a way that learners build on prior learning and knowledge. It wants to see what you are teaching and how this transfers to what learners do in the workplace.

Curriculum Development Strategy

We were giving an online demo of Stedfast a few weeks ago and the provider was disappointed that we weren’t able to copy and paste an example of a Business Administration apprenticeship curriculum plan to their account. We don’t do this because no single curriculum plan can cover the needs of all learners and employers. There are so many variances – employer types, location and region, length of programme etc. The curriculum plan has to be personal to the organisation, the learners and the employers. In our experience, “off the shelf” curriculum plans do more harm than good.

We, therefore, thought it might be helpful to share our 7 strategies for building an apprenticeship curriculum plan

1 Involve all staff

Curriculum planning shouldn’t be done in isolation. It needs to be collaborative and involve the trainers who will be delivering the knowledge and skills to the learners. Take some time out to work on a curriculum plan as a group. Don’t rely on a curriculum manager to create the plans and allocate them to each programme you are delivering.

2 Learner Focus

When developing a curriculum plan, it helps to remember that it is not being written for OfSTED. It is being written to give learners and employers the best teaching and learning experience. The curriculum plan has to be designed so that learning is relevant to the apprenticeship standard but also maps to what the learner will also learn in the workplace. Speak to employers and understand what they would like to have included in the curriculum plan.

3 Course Vision

Begin by setting out your programme overview, (this is the vision or focus of what will be delivered. Identify the local and regional content as well as scoping the programme sequence.

curriculum programme overview

4 Identify Curriculum Intent

Apprenticeship standards helpfully set out the curriculum endpoints in the knowledge, skills and behaviours. Once these have been established it is then up to delivery staff to identify what learners are expected to know or be able to do and why and how this will be measured. Importantly, trainers should identify assessment opportunities to confirm that knowledge has been committed to the learner’s long term memory.

apprenticeship curriculum endpoints

5 Cross Curriculum Links

Identify opportunities to map outcomes to other delivery plans. Consider if work planned for learners is also developing maths and English, personal development or Prevent etc.

6 Plan the sequence

Teachers and trainers need to plan the sequence of delivery. This could be done by topic, module or skill etc. When creating the sequence activities teachers and trainers should also identify the outcomes or criteria that the activity covers. This is the point that staff should also consider the learning, practice and assessment opportunities. Staff will also need to develop training or lesson plans and teaching material.

7 Plan 20% Off the Job Learning

Trainers need to be able to plan off the job training and demonstrate that it is providing new skills and knowledge and is applicable in the workplace.

We also suggest that the curriculum plan is shared with learners and employers. This ensures that they know what the delivery expectations are. Providers should also request regular feedback from employers as this will help develop the curriculum.

If you are looking for support with curriculum planning then please contact us and we will be happy to discuss how we can help.



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