1. Introduction

  1. This Appeals Procedure sets out how a trailblazer can appeal against a final decision made by the Institute. The Institute aims to work collaboratively with employers and hopes that working in this way will resolve most problems without employers needing to use this Appeals Procedure.
  2. For complaints against the Institute, you are referred to our complaints procedure. You can find out more about this here.
  3. In carrying out its work to uphold the quality of apprenticeships, the Institute will be taking a number of decisions including, for example, the following:
    1. decision to approve or reject a proposal from a group of persons to develop an apprenticeship standard;
    2. decision to approve or reject an apprenticeship standard;
    3. decision to approve or reject an assessment plan;
    4. decision to recommend a final funding band for an apprenticeship standard to the Department for Education; and
    5. decision to withdraw or amend an approved standard or assessment plan.
  4. Notwithstanding that the decisions identified above are the decisions we most commonly make, you may appeal (where the appeal ground is met) against any final decision of the Institute.
  5. This Appeals Procedure is effective for all final decisions where you are making an appeal after 27 December 2017. The Institute will review its Appeals Procedure annually and where there is a change to its statutory functions.
  6. Some of the Institute’s final decisions consist of ‘recommendations’ to the Secretary of State (for example, on funding bands). In circumstances where the Institute makes a recommendation to the Secretary of State, the Institute may share with the Secretary of State (or another Minister) the fact, basis and outcome of any appeal you make (along with any documents you supply) so as to support the Secretary of State (or another Minister) to act on that recommendation. If you object to us doing so, please state this in correspondence to us.

2. Ground of appeal

7. An appeal can be made on the following ground:

  • procedural or other impropriety. There was a procedural or other irregularity in the making of the decision such that the propriety of the decision is called into question. Examples include:  materially failing to comply with agreed procedures; failing to take account of relevant information or taking account of irrelevant information; making a decision based on a mistake of fact; or the Institute exceeding its powers.

8. Your appeal must be based on the above ground. As explained in paragraph 16 below, the first stage of dealing with an appeal is the Deputy Director for Corporate Effectiveness (the “Deputy Director”) or a member of the Deputy Director’s team ensuring that it is based on the appeal ground.

3. Making an appeal

9. You can make an appeal when you want to challenge a final decision of the Institute. These are handled through this Appeals Procedure.

10. We will only consider appeals brought by trailblazers. We will not consider appeals brought by other people (such as training providers or awarding organisations). A member of a trailblazer may make an appeal (ideally through the trailblazer Chair) by correspondence to the Institute’s enquiries e-mail address (enquiries.ifa@education.gov.uk) (the “Designated Email Address”). We will only accept an appeal from you if it is submitted on the Institute Appeal Submission Form (the “Appeal Form”). You can find the Appeal Form at the end of this document. We will not accept appeals initiated in other ways, including face-to-face or by phone with members of Institute staff.

11. If you want to make an appeal, you must submit the Appeal Form (alongside any supporting evidence) to us within (i) 10 working days for decisions on our recommendations of final funding bands and (ii) 25 working days for all other decisions. We will confirm to you that we have received your appeal (normally within three working days). The Institute aims to complete all appeals within eight weeks of receipt of an Appeal Form. Where this is not likely to be achieved, we will let you know.

12. During your appeal we will not discuss the appeal with anyone other than you or, where you provide an alternative contact, that person.

13. You should, and the Institute will, conduct all contact through the Designated Email Address. All communications from the Designated Email Address in respect of an appeal will be sent by the Deputy Director or a member of the Deputy Director’s team.

14. You should set out clearly and concisely in the Appeal Form the basis of your appeal and the reasons that the ground of appeal is met.

15. You may submit evidence to support your appeal, which should be clearly labelled and referenced. You must submit the completed Appeal Form and all evidence within the timeframes set out at paragraph 11. You are responsible for ensuring that the Appeal Form is completed in a clear and concise manner and that any evidence is provided.

4. People involved in handling your appeal

16. The following people within the Institute will be involved in handling your appeal:

  • The Deputy Director or the Deputy Director’s team will manage the process and keep you informed of progress. The Deputy Director or the Deputy Director’s team may also support the Appeal Panel by providing administrative, procedural and other advice.
  • The Head of Legal may give advice to the Institute at some or all stages of the appeal.
  • The Independent Reviewer is an Institute official who was not involved in the original decision you want to appeal. They will consider your appeal and make a recommendation to the Appeal Panel.
  • The Appeal Panel consists of at least two members of the Institute’s Board. No Board member who was involved in the original decision will form part of the Appeal Panel. The Appeal Panel will make the final decision on your appeal.

5. Process of an appeal

17. On receipt of your appeal, the Deputy Director or a member of the Deputy Director’s team will ensure that it is based on the appeal ground and that it contains all of the relevant information and any supporting evidence. Where an appeal is submitted and it is not based on the appeal ground, the Institute will inform you that your appeal will not be considered.

18. Where an appeal is accepted because it meets the appeal ground, it will be considered by an Independent Reviewer. The Independent Reviewer will consider our original decision, your completed Appeal Form (and any supporting evidence). They will also seek information from the relevant Institute official.

19. The Independent Reviewer will make their recommendation(s) to the Appeal Panel. The Independent Reviewer may recommend that the Appeal Panel (i) reject an appeal or any part(s) of an appeal or (ii) accept an appeal or any part(s) of an appeal. The Independent Reviewer will outline their reasons for making their recommendation(s).

20. The final decision in respect of each appeal will sit with the Appeal Panel. The Appeal Panel may consider appeals by meeting or by correspondence.

21. The Appeal Panel, when making its decision, will be informed by the Independent Reviewer’s recommendation. They will also receive the following documents to assist in their decision making:

  • the original decision and any material documents related to the original decision;
  • your completed Appeal Form;
  • any supporting documents provided with your Appeal Form; and
  • any other relevant documents.

22. The Independent Reviewer will ordinarily attend the Appeal Panel.

23. In exceptional circumstances, the Appeal Panel may, in its absolute discretion, invite the person bringing the appeal and/or the relevant Institute official to a meeting (for example, where the Appeal Panel considers that there are significant issues that require further exploration). The procedure at any such meeting will be at the Appeal Panel's discretion. There is no right to legal or other representation at such meeting.

6. Decisions of the Appeal Panel

24. The Appeal Panel shall uphold the appeal if it concludes that, on the balance of probabilities, there was procedural or other impropriety in the making of the decision such that the decision should be set aside.

25. Where the Appeal Panel upholds the appeal it will set aside the decision under appeal.

26. Decisions successfully appealed will be retaken by the Institute following its ordinary decision-making processes. In most cases, an official not previously involved will be responsible for taking it through the decision-making process.

27. The Deputy Director will communicate the outcome of the Appeal Panel's decision of an appeal to the person making the appeal, normally within seven working days of the date of the Appeal Panel’s decision.

28. Once the trailblazer has been advised of the Appeal Panel's decision, the Appeals Procedure is completed.

29. The decision of the Appeal Panel is final. There is no further appeal from, or review of, the Appeal Panel's decision within the Institute’s procedures.

7. Appeal Submission Form for trailblazers

Download the form.