1. Introduction

  1. This document sets out the ground (and related facts) upon which a trailblazer group may request a Procedural Review of a final decision or recommendation made by the Institute and the process that will apply to such a request.
  2. For other complaints against the Institute, the trailblazer group is referred to the Institute’s complaints procedure.
  3. In carrying out its work to uphold the quality of apprenticeships and technical education, the Institute takes a number of decisions including (but not limited to) the following examples:
    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 Education1; and
    5. decision to withdraw or amend an approved standard or assessment plan.
  4. Notwithstanding that the decisions identified above are the decisions that the Institute most commonly makes, a trailblazer group may request a Procedural Review (where the ground is met) against any final decision of the Institute.
  5. This document is effective for all final decisions after 21 July 2019. The Institute will review the process regularly 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 Procedural Review request the trailblazer group makes (along with any documents supplied by the trailblazer group) so as to support the Secretary of State (or another Minister) to act on that recommendation. If the trailblazer group objects to the Institute doing so, it should state this in its correspondence to the Institute.
  7. The Procedural Review is not intended to be an opportunity for a trailblazer group to complain about a decision of the Institute which it does not agree with and/or ask for a new decision (on the basis of evidence/information previously submitted, or on the basis of new evidence/information which could have been obtained and submitted before the original decision was taken). Rather, it is intended to be used where the ground for Procedural Review has been met and as a consequence, such a decision should properly be taken afresh.

2. Ground for Procedural Review

  1. A Procedural Review may be requested by a trailblazer group on the following ground:
    • Material procedural error or other material irregularity. The procedural error or other irregularity referred to must be of sufficient materiality as to be capable of giving rise to a different decision or outcome on reconsideration. Examples of material errors or material irregularities include: failure of the Institute to comply with published procedures; failure of the Institute to take account of relevant information or taking account of irrelevant information; making a decision based on a clear error; or the Institute exceeding its powers.
  2. The trailblazer group’s Procedural Review request must be based on the above ground. As explained in paragraph 18 below, the first stage of dealing with a Procedural Review request is for the Head of Legal (or a member of their team) to verify that there is a reasonable basis for concluding that the request is within the scope of the ground for Procedural Review and that the request has been made in compliance with paragraph 12 below (in relation to the timing of the request) and paragraph 15 (in relation to the reasons why the ground for Procedural Review is met). Procedural Review requests that are considered to be outside the scope will be declined and the Institute will write to the trailblazer group to inform them if this is the case.

3. Requesting a Procedural Review

  1. The trailblazer group can request a Procedural Review only in relation to final decisions of the Institute. These are handled through this Procedural Review.
  2. The Institute will only consider requests for Procedural Review made by a trailblazer group (through the Chair of the trailblazer group or such other member of the trailblazer group as is authorised by the Chair). The Institute will not consider requests brought by any other person or group (such as training providers). The trailblazer group may request a Procedural Review through the trailblazer Chair (or such other member of the trailblazer as is authorised by the Chair) by correspondence to the Institute’s relevant e-mail address (Institute.PROCEDURALREVIEW@education.gov.uk) (the ‘Designated Email Address’). The Institute will only accept a Procedural Review request from the trailblazer group if it is submitted on the Institute’s Procedural Review Request Form (the ‘Procedural Review Request Form’). The Procedural Review Request Form can be found below. The Institute will not accept requests initiated in other ways, including face-to-face or by phone with members of Institute staff.
  3. The trailblazer group must (i) notify the Institute of its intention to request a Procedural Review within 10 working days of the Institute informing the trailblazer group (or otherwise making public) the relevant decision (‘Decision’) and (ii) submit a Procedural Review Request Form (with all necessary supporting evidence) within 25 working days of the Decision. Both the notification referred to at (i) and Procedural Review Request Form referred to at (ii) should be sent to the Designated Email Address. The Institute will confirm to the trailblazer group that it has received each of the notification and Procedural Review Request Form. The Institute aims to complete all Procedural Reviews within eight weeks of receipt of the Review Request Form (and all necessary supporting evidence). Where this is not likely to be achieved, the Institute will let the trailblazer group know.
  4. During the Procedural Review, the Institute will not discuss the Procedural Review with anyone other than the person who submitted the Procedural Review Request Form or, where an alternative contact is given on the form, that alternative contact.
  5. The trailblazer group should, and the Institute will, conduct all contact through the Designated Email Address. All communications from the Designated Email Address in respect of a Procedural Review will be sent by the Head of Legal or a member of their team.
  6. The trailblazer group should set out clearly and concisely in the Procedural Review Request Form the basis of the Procedural Review request and clearly explain the reasons why the trailblazer group considers that the ground of Procedural Review is met. In the case of a final funding band recommendation, the request should make clear reference to the decision flowchart (in particular, steps 1-4 and any relevant bullet points) which is published on the Institute’s website (which may be updated from time to time).
  7. The trailblazer group should (wherever possible) submit evidence to support its Procedural Review request, which should be clearly labelled and referenced. The trailblazer group must submit the completed Procedural Review Request Form and all evidence within the timeframes set out at paragraph 12. The trailblazer group is responsible for ensuring that the Procedural Review Request Form is completed in a clear and concise manner and that any evidence the trailblazer group wishes to be considered is provided.

4. Institute personnel involved in handling the Procedural Review

  1. The following personnel within the Institute will ordinarily be involved in handling the trailblazer group’s Procedural Review:
    • The Head of Legal, or a member of their team, will manage the process and keep the trailblazer group informed of progress. They may support the Procedural Review Panel by providing administrative, procedural and other legal advice. They will attend the meeting of the Procedural Review Panel.
    • The Independent Reviewer is an Institute official who was not involved in the original decision. They will consider the trailblazer’s Procedural Review request and make a recommendation to the Procedural Review Panel.
    • The Procedural Review Panel consists of at least two, but normally three, members of the Institute’s Board. No Board member who was involved in the original decision will form part of the Procedural Review Panel. The Procedural Review Panel will make the final decision on the trailblazer group’s Procedural Review.

5. Process of a Procedural Review

  1. On receipt of the Procedural Review Request Form, the Head of Legal, or a member of their team, will examine the trailblazer group’s Procedural Review Request Form and accompanying documents to ensure that the request is based on the Procedural Review ground, has complied fully with paragraph 12 and that it contains the information and supporting evidence necessary to allow the Procedural Review to proceed. Where a Procedural Review Request Form is submitted that is not based on the Procedural Review ground or that cannot be considered due to lack of information or supporting evidence, the Institute will inform the trailblazer group that the request is declined. In all other cases, the Procedural Review request will be remitted to an Independent Reviewer to investigate and report to the Procedural Review Panel on whether, in the Independent Reviewer's opinion, the Procedural Review should be granted.
  2. In making their recommendation to the Procedural Review Panel, the Independent Reviewer must have regard to the specific issues raised in the Procedural Review Request Form (and any supporting evidence provided). If the Independent Reviewer identifies any other material issue which is not raised in the Procedural Review Request Form and which the Independent Reviewer considers ought to be drawn to the attention of the Procedural Review Panel, they may also make reference to that issue in their report.
  3. The Independent Reviewer may seek such information and documentation from the relevant Institute official(s) as they require to reach a view on the Procedural Review request.
  4. The Independent Reviewer will make their recommendation(s) to the Procedural Review Panel. The Independent Reviewer may recommend that the Procedural Review Panel (i) reject a Procedural Review request or any part(s) of a Procedural Review request or (ii) grant a Procedural Review request or any part(s) of a Procedural Review request. The Independent Reviewer will outline their reasons for making their recommendation(s).
  5. The final decision in respect of each Procedural Review request will sit with the Procedural Review Panel. The Procedural Review Panel may consider Procedural Review requests by meeting (in person or by telephone).
  6. The Procedural Review 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 relevant documents related to the original decision;
    • the trailblazer group’s completed Procedural Review Request Form;
    • any supporting documents provided with the Procedural Review Request Form; and
    • any other relevant documents.
  7. The Independent Reviewer will attend the Procedural Review Panel meeting. The procedure at any such meeting will be at the Procedural Review Panel's discretion.
  8. If the Procedural Review Panel considers that there are any issues that require further investigation or clarification, they may direct the Independent Reviewer to carry out such further investigation or seek such further clarification and may adjourn consideration of the Procedural Review request to a future meeting of the Procedural Review Panel.

6. Decisions of the Procedural Review Panel

  1. If the Procedural Review Panel concludes that, on the balance of probabilities, there was a procedural error or other irregularity of sufficient materiality as to be capable of giving rise to a different decision or outcome on reconsideration, the Procedural Review Panel may remit the whole, or relevant part, of the original decision for reconsideration.
  2. Where a decision is remitted for reconsideration, the decision will be retaken as a fresh decision 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.
  3. The Head of Legal will communicate the outcome of the Procedural Review Panel's decision of a Procedural Review request to the trailblazer group’s representative requesting the Procedural Review, normally within seven working days of the date of the Procedural Review Panel’s decision.
  4.  Once the trailblazer group has been advised of the Procedural Review Panel's decision, the process is completed.
  5. The decision of the Procedural Review Panel is final.
  6. If you have any queries following the outcome of the Procedural Review please contact the trailblazer group’s relationship manager.

7. Procedural Review Request Form for trailblazers

Download the form.