How to stretch and challenge apprentices

How do you know when apprentices are ready for that extra push?

How to stretch and challenge apprentices 

A man stretching at his desk

Stretch and challenge activities are an important part of apprenticeships.  

They give apprentices the opportunity to take their learning further and get the highest grade they possibly can. They give employers validation that their apprenticeship levy is being well spent. And they show Ofsted that providers are taking a personalised approach to apprenticeship delivery.  

Stretch and challenge activities should be offered to all apprentices – no matter their background, ability or ambitions. So how do you know when apprentices are ready for that extra push? Well, it’s all down to the individual learner.  

Start with prior learning  

During the initial assessment, you can find out the learner’s prior learning – not just against English and maths, but against all the KSBs in the standard. This will help you create a learning baseline to build upon throughout the programme 

Personalise your curriculum  

Ofsted wants providers to stretch and challenge all learners – no matter their level. To do this, you’ll need to use the apprentice’s starting point and create a personalised curriculum that builds on their prior knowledge. Apprentices will have access to the same quality of learning, but won’t be repeating work or learning about things they already know, so they’ll have more opportunity to progress. 

Set advanced tasks 

As apprentices are progressing through the curriculum, you can set stretch and challenge activities to help them build advanced knowledge. You’ll need to find a way to measure the progression of learning, so you know when they’re ready for that extra push. One way is with OneFile’s Learning Hub. With the Learning Hub, apprentices can evaluate their learning and rate their understanding as they progress – giving you the insight you need to set stretch and challenge tasks.  

Introduce grading 

When apprentices are progressing nicely through their programme, let them know about the different grades they could achieve at EPA – pass, merit, distinction. If you introduce grading at the right time, it could be a powerful motivator to stretch and challenge learners.  

Speak to their employer too. If an apprentice is fluctuating between grades, it could encourage their employer to offer a little more support and help them achieve the higher grade.  

Set targets 

Ofsted wants to see that all learners have been stretched and challenged to achieve ambitious targets – so set them! Work with the apprentice and employer to set ambitious, yet realistic targets. These could be around grades, but they could be about further qualifications or promotions. Whatever they are, make sure they’re personal to each learner.  

Motivate, measure, master 

For your stretch and challenge activities to work, you’ll need to keep apprentices engaged – otherwise they might just see them as ‘extra work’. Using an apprenticeship software like OneFile to measure progress will motivate learners to complete more learning, increase their progress and reach their targets.  


With OneFile, you can personalise stretch and challenge activities easily. You can measure prior learning, build a personalised curriculum, track progress, and set stretch and challenge activities in one place. In fact, OneFile has everything you need for the new apprenticeship standards – that’s why it’s the most used apprenticeship software.  

To find out more about OneFile and how you can use it to improve your apprenticeship delivery, download our free guide 

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Or to see OneFile in action, book a demo with a OneFile expert. They’ll give you a personalised tour of the software, show you how OneFile can benefit you, and answer any questions you have. Book your free demonstration today.

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This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.