Guide to: Level 3 apprenticeship standard

Monday, May 27, 2019

The sector’s first-ever Early Years Educator apprenticeship standard, at Level 3, has finally landed. Here’s a handy guide from Hannah Crown

1. What is the new Level 3 early years educator apprenticeship standard?

The standard is a short document devised by employers setting out the profile of an apprenticeship at a certain level: what will be expected of the apprentice, and the abilities and the behaviour they must display, such as compassion, British values and being team-focused.

2. What is in it?

The Early Years Educator (EYE) qualification forms the substantive part of this apprenticeship as it is needed for a candidate to count in early years ratios at Level 3. It has substantial work experience built in it, along with observation of the student to determine their competence in a real work environment.

Additional to EYE are qualifications in paediatric first-aid and English and maths at Level 2, and grade C minimum (functional skills or GCSEs). Unlike its predecessor framework, the standard does not contain an ICT qualification.

The apprentice must also put together a portfolio that contains ten to 12 pieces of evidence, including two videos of observations of practice.

3. How much is the funding?

£5,000-£6,000, though an apprenticeship provider could charge less.

4. Who pays?

Small employers pay a 5 per cent contribution and the Government pays the rest through a system known as co-investment. Larger employers pay the apprenticeship levy, which is 0.5 per cent of their PAYE bill, and receive a 10 per cent Government top-up on this amount.

5. How is it assessed?

Apprentices will undergo a 90-minute face-to-face ‘professional discussion’ with an independent assessor at the end of their apprenticeship, where they will have access to their portfolio. They must also sit a 60-minute, 35-question multiple choice knowledge test. The idea behind this ‘end-point assessment’ system is to test all elements of the apprenticeship together, as well as whether the apprentice is ready for work.

This is quite different from the old system of apprenticeships, where apprentices had skills and knowledge continually evaluated by their training provider, who assessed their progress and signed off when an apprenticeship was ‘achieved’.

6. What marks are awarded?

Distinction, pass or fail. The distinction option is new.

7. How long will it take to complete?

Typically 18 months.

8. When will it be ready to deliver?

Some trainers, such as Interserve, signed up their first apprentices a week after the standard was launched in April. This was dependent on awarding bodies and end-point assessment organisations developing content and assessment plans for the qualification. The original framework won’t be ‘switched off’ until August 2020, meaning apprentices can still be signed up to it until then.

9. How does it relate to T-Levels?

The standard created by trailblazer groups and used for apprenticeships is also the basis for the outline content of a T-Level, which is a new vocational programme of study at Level 3 that is designed to be equivalent to three A-Levels. Because the Level 3 early years standard is based on the Early Years Educator qualification, it is expected that the T-level will also be based on the EYE. But what will then be awarded will be a T-Level in Education and Childcare, not an EYE.

10. Why the five-year delay?

This standard was released five years after work on it began in 2014 – the longest delay for any standard in any sector. Political wrangling over the maths and English GCSE-only requirement for EYE courses caused the first set of delays. The rule was finally changed to allow for functional skills as an alternative, two weeks after the sacking of the first trailblazer group, which had joined with the sector in calling for the rules to be broadened following a huge drop in the number of qualified Level 3s.

Last September the chair of the second trailblazer group, Fay Gibbin of Busy Bees, resigned, saying the process of designing standards had not been ‘employer-led’ as it was originally supposed to be. She and the group continued working to get the standard finalised, but a nine-month impasse over the final stage – the assessment plan – followed.

Rumour has it that the panel charged with approving the standard – which has been criticised for not having enough early years representatives – wanted to instigate a new GCSE requirement, despite the previous farrago just two years earlier.

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