Higher and Degree Apprenticeships: Contextualised Learning

KIITE is involved in shaping curriculum design and delivery for Keele University’s Higher and Degree Apprenticeships portfolio, working with employers to develop apprenticeship programmes in a variety of sectors.

An apprenticeship is a job with training. Apprentices are employed and their employer commissions their training from the University. They must be in a job that relates to the training and the aim is they are fully competent at the end of the apprenticeship.

Every apprenticeship aligns to an occupational standard. This is a description of the duties, knowledge skills and behaviours of a competent person in a particular occupation. Occupational standards are developed by groups of employers. Each apprenticeship is assessed by an end point assessment which is a nationally agreed assessment of competence.

The University offers a range of higher and degree level apprenticeships. For some of these the training is provided using a full undergraduate or postgraduate degree, with learning aligned to professional requirements.
Apprentices don’t pay for their training. Their employer pays using their apprenticeship levy or, where the employer does not pay the levy, they can fund training by receiving a transfer of levy from an employer who does or through government co-investment (where the government funds 95% of the training price and the employer funds the remainder).

Apprenticeships at Keele play an important role in supporting the skills and training needs of key employers and the locality. All our apprenticeships are developed in collaboration with employers so that we can ensure that our programmes meet the requirements of the business and work based learners. Our provision has grown in response to demand, starting with an Academic Professional Apprenticeship for our own academic staff and Nursing Associate provision, supporting routes to registered status.

Our apprenticeships are enabling non-traditional learners to develop into rewarding careers. For example, our Nursing Associate apprenticeship provides routes to NMC registered status for loyal care staff who may not have formal qualifications beyond level 2. Our Data Scientist apprenticeship supports progression for this without technical level 3 qualifications, opening up opportunities for women in an often male domain.

We continue to develop our offer in collaboration with employers to offer training to support priorities identified in the locality and, in some specialisms, nationally. Our apprenticeships are closely linked to our local Keele Deals, with skills aligned to plans to support local recovery.

Ofsted has previously held a joint inspection remit with the Office for Students (OfS) for apprenticeship provision. From the 1 April 2021 their remit has been extended to all apprenticeship training, from level 2 (GCSE) to level 7 (postgraduate degrees). In practice, this means that Ofsted will inspect the University’s apprenticeship provision. In the first 24 months of delivery, we will be liable to receive a monitoring visit, with a full inspection due in the following 24 months.   

Ofsted will be interested in talking to senior leaders, employers and apprentices as part of a visit. The may also observe teaching. They are looking at the quality of our apprenticeships as a combination of learning and work and are interested in how provision is led, the quality of our apprenticeship education (its intent, implementation and impact) and safeguarding arrangements.

  • A monitoring visit is usually a two day visit to assess progress as a training provider, assess any risks and encourage improvement.
  • A short report is published following the monitoring visit where inspectors will make judgements (insufficient progress, reasonable progress, significant progress) against 3 key themes: leadership and management, quality of training/education and safeguarding
  • We are currently in scope for a ‘new provider monitoring visit’ which will assess progress as a new apprenticeship provider against reasonable expectations; monitoring visits are also often used as an interim tool to check on progress between full inspections.

Inspectors will not conduct any stakeholder surveys but will want to talk to leaders and key staff, employers and apprentices. They may also observe teaching, depending on the activities being undertaken during the visit period.

As a new provider, we know we will have a monitoring visit in the 12 months from 1 April 2021.

What our offer is

We develop our apprenticeship offer in response to local skills needs and from dialogue with employers so, our offer will grow and develop over time to reflect this. The programmes we have in delivery are detailed below:

From the 2018-20 academic years the Academic Professional Apprenticeship has used the PG Diploma in Higher Education Practice to deliver to our own staff who are new to HE teaching, research or are in academic related roles. For our 2021 starts we have revised the programme to be delivered over a shorter period by a PG Certificate and a selection of workshops to personalise learning. We are likely to be welcoming other employees from the Health and Education sectors in the 2021 intake.

Our Advanced Clinical Practitioner apprenticeship closely mirrors our existing MSc Advanced Clinical Practice but with a shorter dissertation requirement to integrate the End Point Assessment. It is open to practitioners across a range of specialisms in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the programmes are heavily personalised to experience and area of practice.

Our Data Scientist (Degree) apprenticeship was the first Data Science degree at the University and has an integrated project-based End Point Assessment. Apprentices study on programme for between 36 and 48 months and a range of employers from the public and private sectors have a mixture of career entrants and upskillers on programme. Our programme does not require a scientific A level for entry which is unusual across the sector and supports access by non-traditional learners in the discipline.

Nursing Associate is the University's first Foundation Degree and was developed as part of a Health Education England (HEE) third wave initiative with local Trusts and Staffordshire University. The programme provides completers with The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registered status and the opportunities to progress into Registered Nursing through further study. The level 3 and experience-based entry gate has provided loyal care workers and non-traditional entrants a route to nursing.

Our Senior Leader apprenticeship has two intakes per year and has been our largest programme; delivered through a Master of Business Administration and encompasses a broad range of external employers from the private, public and voluntary sectors. The University has also used the programme to train its own leaders, in the early cohorts.

Our Registered Nurse programme is delivered through the BSc Adult Nursing programme and has enabled us to work in to deliver nurse training for a Trust in Cheshire and fulfill their requirement to invest in the training of new nurses with the hope of aiding occupational retention. Recently shortened apprenticeship routes to registered nurse status have been developed, enabling progression for qualified Assistant Practitioners and Nursing Associates.

Our Research Scientist apprenticeship is delivered by a MSc in Technical Leadership with specialisms on analytical chemistry and biomedical science. It is co-delivered across three Schools and includes management and leadership skills in combination with advanced technical skills for research.

Our District Nurse apprenticeship aligns with our current PG offer. The programme has not recruited to date as our partners have been using Health Education England funding to access the qualification but, we expect this to move over time.

The apprenticeship aims to enhance your experience enabling you to continue to provide, excellent complex care to individuals in a variety of healthcare environments. Modules on our specialist pathways concentrate on specific themes around Critical Care Practice, Contemporary Rheumatology Practice (BSc route only), Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Neonatal Practice, Heart Failure (PG Diploma route only) and a Generic Practice route.

Find out more about our apprenticeship programmes.