How to develop your apprenticeship curriculum with the employer
The 2019 education inspection framework (EIF) has a new focus on curriculum, which has stumped some providers. But the thing is – the focus on curriculum isn’t new. The difference is just the 3 i's – intent, implementation and impact.
Here are 3 things to remember about the 3 i's:
- The curriculum needs to reflect the needs of the learner, employer and sector
- The curriculum needs to reflect the core values of the employer – if there isn’t synergy, is it the right employer?
- The curriculum should give learners the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in the workplace today, in 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months and later in their career.
Another big thing to remember is that providers must work with the employer to develop the curriculum.
You need to get your employers in a room and listen to their needs – they'll know the exact KSBs they want apprentices to learn. You then need to find out how the employer’s requirements work with the standard to create your curriculum.
This sounds easy on paper, but of course putting plans into action can be tricky. To make your curriculum works, you’ll need to build a stronger relationship with your employer – keep listening and challenging them, and bring them into the process as much as you can. Employers are always busy, so getting them to give up their time can be a challenge in itself, so you need to explain exactly what the curriculum is, what it should look like, and the impact it’ll have on their learners.
The 5 phases of curriculum development with the employer
1. Planning – identify the wants and needs
- Identify your shared objectives so you know why it’s important to work together
- Agree to the level of collaboration – this could be time commitments or task-based agreements
- Identify the shared needs of your organisations – like learner outcomes, off-the-job etc.
- Complete a job role skill analysis
- Work together to unpick and understand the standard
- Work together to understand the skills and knowledge of the learner – their starting point and what KSBs they need to cover
2. Agreements – get some plans in writing
- Agree your joint aims, objectives and level of collaboration
- Discuss and agree the commitment of the employer’s staff – e.g. They may have a Monday morning meeting to discuss priorities for the week. Could this be an opportunity for a learning review that could be built into the curriculum?
- Agree timeframes for reviews, meetings and off-the-job
- Create your commitment statement. (You can find a template for the commitment statement here.)
3. Collaboration in practice – complete key activities together
- Map your curriculum – include the KSBs in the standard, the employer’s value, and the behaviours expected by you and the employer
- Develop the curriculum together
- Plan how you’re going to deliver together – remote reviews, work shadowing, feedback, achievement events, the gateway process etc.
- Include any CPD commitments required by the employer’s staff
4. Maintenance – keep challenging and listening as you collaborate
- Schedule reviews into learner progress, but also your relationship with the employer. How can you develop to help your learner develop?
- Schedule progress milestones and how you’re going to measure learner progression
- Complete an employer survey
- Complete a health check and skills scan to see how you, the employer and learner are getting on
5. Next steps – things you can do to improve
- Create a working advisory group in your organisation to share best practice about collaboration
- Join employer forums
- Add non-executive employer members to your board or committee so you have an employer voice in your training organisation
Collaborating with employers can be challenging, but it’s a rewarding and important part of apprenticeship delivery. Of course, there are barriers to overcome – like communication, programme visibility, scheduling, off-the-job training, different priorities, physical barriers and time – but that’s where OneFile comes in.
OneFile’s apprenticeship software has tons of built-in features that make it easier for training providers to collaborate with employers – like instant messaging, remote reviews, progress dashboards and off-the-job tools. That’s why it’s already used by 700 training organisations to deliver apprenticeships.
To find out more about OneFile and how it can help you collaborate with employers, download your guide to employer collaboration.