We review apprenticeship standards approved for delivery at regular intervals. This is to decide if they need to be revised or withdrawn. Route reviews look at apprenticeship standards both individually and in relation to other apprenticeship standards.

We only want to make changes to apprenticeship standards where it is right to do so. This will ensure stability for employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations (EPAO), and apprentices. We also want to avoid unnecessary work for trailblazer groups.

In some circumstances, we may support trailblazer groups to make changes to an apprenticeship standard ahead of a route review.

1. How to make a change request

A request to change an apprenticeship standard may relate to one or more of the following parts:

  • the occupational standard
  • the end-point assessment (EPA) plan
  • the funding band

A change request may come from several sources, including:

  • an apprentice
  • an employer
  • an external quality assurance provider (EQAP)
  • an EPAO via the EQAP
  • a government department
  • the Institute’s apprentice panel, board, route panel or quality assurance committee
  • a trailblazer group
  • a training provider
  • a professional body
  • a regulator
  • a sector body

To make a change request you can email us at trailblazer.revisions@education.gov.uk

You need to:

  • state which part(s) of the apprenticeship standard you believe needs to change (occupational standard, EPA plan and/or funding band). The request may impact on other parts
  • explain why the change is needed
  • include any evidence or information to support your request

2. Change request revision process

We will consider every change request we receive.

We will decide whether to support a change request or not. We aim to do this within four weeks. If this is not possible, we will let you know.

Where a change request is not from the apprenticeship standard’s trailblazer group, we will tell them. We will also seek their views to inform our decision.

When we consider a change request for any part(s) of an apprenticeship standard, we will also consider if other parts need to change. For example, if we receive a change request relating to an EPA plan we will also consider if the occupational standard or funding band may need to change.

Our decision may be to:

  • support a trailblazer group to make a revision
  • make an adjustment
  • make a dispensation
  • not support the change request

3. Revisions

A revision is a change to an apprenticeship standard which

  1. materially alters the content of the occupation to which the occupational standard relates
  2. alters the outcomes that those undertaking the apprenticeship will be seeking to attain
  3. alters any of the key matters which the Institute considered when it was first approved
  4. may alter the funding band

This includes:

  • changes to the occupational title
  • changes to mandated entry requirements
  • changing the occupational level
  • changing the typical duration
  • changes to the duties, knowledge, skills and/or behaviours (KSBs), beyond minor corrections like typos
  • adding or removing duties, KSBs
  • adding or removing a mandated qualification
  • changes to the purpose or content of a mandated qualification, which affect the criteria against which it was originally agreed
  • changes to align with regulatory requirements. This may include changes that require existing apprentices to move to the new version
  • adding or removing an option (occupation) in an existing core and options; or adding an occupation and creating a core and options
  • changing the EPA criteria, beyond minor corrections like typos. This includes:
    • changing, adding, or removing an assessment method(s)
    • changes to an assessment method’s parameters. For example, the duration, or the number of questions
    • changes to the grading criteria and/or descriptors
    • changes to the independent assessor requirements
  • changes to the occupation’s route or pathway on the occupational map

When we will support a revision

We will only support a trailblazer group to complete a revision which is consistent with our approval requirements (occupation, occupational standard and EPA) and where a revised apprenticeship standard will better meet the needs of apprentices, employers, the professions and/or the economy.

Reasons why we may support a revision: 

  • the occupational standard does not reflect the occupation
  • there are new requirements to work in the occupation, which the apprenticeship standard needs to reflect
  • changes will improve the delivery of the training and/or EPA
  • the occupational standard and/or EPA plan do not meet our requirements
  • it is three years or more since the occupational standard and/or EPA plan were last considered by the Institute
  • EPAOs cannot deliver the EPA
  • the funding band does not reflect the cost of off-the-job training for a typical new entrant to the occupation. That is despite efforts to work within the band. For example, changes to delivery methods or different training providers have been explored
  • the funding band does not reflect the cost of EPA. That is despite efforts to work within the band. For example, different EPAO’s have been explored
  • any other substantial reason that we consider warrants a revision

We do not usually expect recently approved apprenticeship standards to need revisions.

A new occupation proposal may need to be submitted and agreed before we can agree to support the work for a revision of an occupational standard. This is where there is a concern about an occupation meeting our requirements for an apprenticeship standard. 

You will need to submit an occupation proposal to add an additional option (occupation) to an existing core and options apprenticeship standard or to add an occupation to create a core and options.

A revision to an occupational standard and/or EPA plan may need us to review the funding band.  

When looking at a funding band only change request, we will consider if the occupational standard and/or EPA plan needs to change. 

For funding band only change requests, the apprenticeship standard must have been ‘approved for delivery’ for at least 12 months (with or without starts in that period) before we will consider a change request.

Evidence

We will look at evidence to decide if our criteria to support a revision have been met.

This may include:  

  • recent job adverts and/or job descriptions
  • information from regulators or professional bodies
  • the number of training providers
  • engagement by EPAOs
  • starts, completion and withdrawal rates
  • employer top-ups for eligible delivery costs
  • data on other apprenticeships
  • insights from apprentices
  • insights from trailblazer groups
  • insights from EQAP
  • insights from Institute staff
  • insights from the route panel or the Institute’s board

4. Adjustments

An adjustment is a minor change, clarification or correction to an occupational standard or EPA plan that does not meet the definition of a revision. 

This includes: 

  • correcting typos
  • changes to the occupation profile that do not change the content. For example, to improve readability
  • changes to clarify or correct errors or information that is missing, not clear or contradictory. This may include adding an example
  • updating the name of a mandated qualification, where there is no change to its content and/or structure  
  • changes relating to a mandated qualification that do not change the purpose or content of the qualification. For example, adding an awarding organisation 
  • changes to English and mathematics gateway requirements to bring them into line with Government policy 
  • changes to align with professional recognition. That is where there is no impact on the duties, KSBs, or EPA

An adjustment will not go through the approvals process.

It does not change the apprenticeship standard version number.

5. Dispensations

Exceptionally, the Institute may authorise a dispensation to an approved apprenticeship standard to protect the interests of apprentices.

It permits employers, training providers and/or EPAOs to deliver the occupational standard and/or EPA plan within amended constraints, usually with a set expiry date.

Where the Institute authorises a dispensation, it normally comes with the requirement to revise the occupational standard and/or EPA plan to address the issue that prompted the need for the dispensation.

 

6. How we will tell you our decision and next steps

We will tell the person who made the request whether we support the change or not. We will also tell the apprenticeship standard’s trailblazer group. We will provide the reason for our decision and evidence considered.

The relevant route panel will be advised of decisions to support a revision or dispensation. The route panel may provide advice to the trailblazer group to inform a revision.

Revision

A revision must be prepared by a trailblazer group, which has been approved by the Institute.

An RM leads our support to the trailblazer group. The trailblazer group is responsible for preparing the revised apprenticeship standard which reflects the changes needed. Further changes needed may be identified during the development process.

The RM will agree an apprenticeship development work plan with the trailblazer group.

If the original trailblazer group cannot support the work, we may commission a new trailblazer group to take the work forward.

Our funding band process (where relevant) and approvals process apply to revisions.

Where an occupational standard is revised, we will review its placement on the occupational map.

For approved occupational standard and EPA revisions, the revised version will be available after an agreed transition plan.

Approved revisions have a new apprenticeship standard version number.

A revision may take an apprenticeship standard out of scope for a later route review.

Adjustment

We will action an adjustment. The relationship manager will advise and/or seek input from the trailblazer group as required. The RM will tell the trailblazer group when the adjustment has been published.

Dispensation

We will action an EPA dispensation. The relationship manager will advise and/or seek input from the trailblazer group as required. The RM will tell the trailblazer group when the dispensation has been actioned.

7. Version numbers

The Institute identifies two types of revision. This is based on how the revision is implemented by the ESFA, not the size of the changes.

  • active revision: the new version has a different LARS (Learning Aims Reference Service) code to the old version. The training provider actively chooses the version through the choice of LARS code when they enrol the apprentice
  • passive revision: both the new and old versions have the same LARS code. The version is passively inferred from the start date of the apprenticeship

The two numbers are defined as:

  • the primary version number (the first one) denotes the number of active revisions for this standard. This only increases when that apprenticeship standard gets a new LARS code. For example, the version number may move from 1.4 to 2.0
  • the secondary version number denotes the number of passive revisions since the last active revision (or since first publication). For example, the version number may move from 1.0 to 1.1

8. Procedural review

If you are unhappy with any final decision made by the Institute in connection with a revision or adjustment, you may be able to challenge the Institute’s decision by way of procedural review. Time frames for submitting a procedural review and details of the ground which must be met for a procedural review to be granted can be found in our guidance.