Inclusive Apprenticeships

Inclusive Apprenticeships

The Department for Education has announced changes to Maths and English requirements for apprentices who have special educational needs, learning difficulties or disabilities. Specific criteria have to be met and evidenced and these are detailed in the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England. For these apprentices exemptions are in place for the regular English and Maths minimum requirements. This exemption allows the apprentice to use an Entry Level 3 qualification in English or Maths as an acceptable alternative.

Link to inclusive apprenticeships toolkit pdf documentThe changes are a result of the Maynard Review, though the early work on this was completed by Peter Little, and a number of pacesetters are testing out the new regime. BASE has a place on the pacesetter advisory group and has supported these changes and helped to identify best practice. A number of issues remain to be resolved including how end-point assessments will be made and ensuring that apprentices have adequate workplace support.  

The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) has published draft guidelines which makes it a requirement for apprenticeship standards end-point assessments to be capable of being reasonably adjusted in line with equality legislation. It says “check that none of the assessment methods proposed make it impossible to make reasonable adjustments” and “provide EPAOs (End Point Assessment Organisations) with high-level guidance on making reasonable adjustments”. A resonable adjustment matrix is attached below.

The 6th version of the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE), published in 2017, introduced a number of key changes to the range of acceptable qualifications for both English and Maths.

The use of a British Sign Language (BSL) qualification (at the required level) is now approved in place of the regular English qualification minimum requirement. This is only for apprentices who use BSL as their primary language.

Guidance on supported apprenticeships and an update on the Maynard review is available on our knowledge pages. An Employer Toolkit was also developed in 2014. A provider support hub has now been established on Linkedin.

Apprenticeship funding rules for main providers - Guidance

Specification of apprenticeship standards for England (SASE)

Find out more about support for apprentices with additional support needs


Exceptions to the English and Maths Regular Minimum Requirements for People with Special Educational Needs, Learning Difficulties or Disabilities

The following is taken from the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (Sections 18-26):

18. Every effort should be made to enable apprentices to achieve the regular minimum English and maths requirements of the specific apprenticeship, including appropriate use of access arrangements, reasonable adjustments and stepping stone qualifications.

19. However, some apprentices with learning difficulties and disabilities may be able to meet the occupational standard but may struggle to achieve the English or maths qualification at the level normally required as a result of the nature of their difficulty or disability. Apprentices in this category who meet all of the conditions specified below are exempt from the regular English and maths minimum requirements and are instead required to achieve an adjusted minimum requirement of Entry Level 3 in the subjects.

20. Depending on the apprentice’s individual circumstances and assessment, the adjustment may apply to one subject in isolation, or to both English and maths. If the adjustment is only applied to one subject, the regular requirements for the non-adjusted subject will apply.

21. Adjusting the minimum requirements to Entry Level 3 in English and maths can be considered by the provider on an individual case-by-case basis where all of the following conditions have been satisfied:

  • The apprentice has either an existing or previously issued Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, a statement of Special Educational Need (SEN) or a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA);

  • The provider holds or has conducted an evidenced assessment demonstrating that even with support, reasonable adjustments and stepping stone qualifications the apprentice is not able to achieve English or maths to the minimum level as a result of their learning difficulty or disability;

  • The employer and provider must reasonably expect that the apprentice will be able to successfully achieve all other aspects of the apprenticeship requirements, become occupationally competent and achieve Entry Level 3 in the adjusted subject(s) before the end of their apprenticeship; and

  • There are no industry specific minimum entry requirements

22. For the purpose of this document, ‘provider’ is defined as the education or training provider.

23. Although the apprentice will be exempt from the regular English and/or maths minimum requirements, providers must consider how to enable the apprentice to access further literacy and numeracy development – including Level 1 and Level 2 courses – as part of their overall training provision, if appropriate.

24. The assessment should be formal, structured, and authorised by an appropriate professional associated with the training or education provider, such as the head of SEN or Student Support. The format of the assessment is to be determined by the provider but must be able to stand up to scrutiny. We expect that it will be conducted within eight weeks of an apprentice beginning their apprenticeship and will include:

  • assessment of the apprentice’s current English and maths levels;

  • collection of information on how the learning difficulty or disability affects the apprentice’s English and maths abilities and a clear indication of whether one or both English and maths are affected;

  • assessment of the apprentice’s ability to meet the regular English and maths requirements even with appropriate support in place;

  • the creating of a recommended learning plan to enable the apprentice to achieve Entry Level 3 in the adjusted subject(s) and, where appropriate, to continue to build on their literacy and numeracy skills by accessing further courses; and

  • collection of copies of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, a statement of Special Educational Need (SEN) or a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA)

25. The Individual Learner Record (ILR) will be used to monitor the application of this adjustment to the regular English and maths requirements. Providers should retain evidence that justifies their decision that a student is eligible for this exemption. This information must be available to auditors appointed to test the use of ESFA funding and to Ofsted inspectors.

26. In the event that the apprentice disagrees with the outcome of the assessment the provider must provide a facility for the apprentice to request a second opinion. The provider must ensure that the assessment is reviewed independently by a second SEN professional. The format of the review process is to be determined by the provider and must be able to stand up to scrutiny.