Aspire Education Academy
In 2010, Aspire Education Academy was mainly involved in pre-employment training. In 2013, they branched into apprenticeships, and subcontracted from colleges in Greater Manchester, delivering Business Admin, Customer Service and Teaching and Learning. Since the introduction of the apprenticeship reforms in 2017, they have seen huge growth by working with levy-paying employers.
As more information about the funding reforms filtered through, we at Aspire became worried about our future, and how the levy would affect subcontracting and our delivery model. Rather than stick our heads in the sand, however, we proactively planned how to make the reforms work for us. We applied to be a main provider in the first round of the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP), and were accepted – so we wouldn’t have to rely on subcontracting any more. Then, just before the funding rules changed in May 2017, we saw a spike in starts, so we had some cash flow during the uncertain start of the levy.
However, due to our proactive engagement with levy-paying employers, we have actually seen huge growth! We are due to sign up 2000 apprentices within this academic year, and we’re working with several very well-known brands. We’ve increased our employee numbers from 30 to 70 in just 2 months, so we know we can support our growth.
OneFile has played a key part in our growth and managing our employers’ requirements. We meet with our employers once a month, and we use OneFile to see where the bottlenecks are in our delivery. The transparency of OneFile allows us to identify the root causes of these bottlenecks, whether it’s a disengaged apprentice, or an obstructive placement manager. Then, alongside our employers, we can create action plans to overcome these. At our recent ESFA audit, all the learners’ monthly progress reviews were available in OneFile – so the audit was as painless as possible.
On OneFile, tutors, apprentices, employers and programme managers can see if a learner is ahead of target, on target or behind target. If someone is ahead of target, the tutor can stretch and challenge them by setting work beyond the level they are working towards. If a learner is behind target, we agree on the support that’s required on all sides so they can get back on track.
The OneFile VLE is fantastic – it has exceeded all our expectations. It’s helped us personalise courses for our levy-paying clients, and both apprentices and employers really like it.
We also use bespoke forms in learning plans to ensure we cover equality and diversity, Prevent and safeguarding on every visit. The apprentices reflect on this in their OneFile journals, and record their off-the-job training, so it’s really easy to track. We find that many employers are happy to commit to the 20% off-the-job training. We create a bespoke on-programme learning plan for each employer, so at the beginning they know when each off-the-job session will take place, and ensure that their apprentices will be allowed off the shop floor for these. We demonstrate to the employer the value of these sessions, and what the apprentice is going to learn.
We always learn something new when we see our OneFile account manager, and we get excited about new feature developments, as they always make such an impact on our working practices. It takes a little time to keep on top of the new features, but it’s really worthwhile. No enquiry is too small for OneFile’s support team – they are amazing.
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