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Apprenticeship Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact

Following the publication of the new OfSTED Education Inspection Framework 2019, education and training providers will be aware of the new Quality of Education judgement. This judgement has been introduced to focus on the curriculum, which sets out what apprentices need to know and be able to do.

OfSTED’s definition of a curriculum is

The curriculum is a framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and skills to be gained at each stage (intent); for translating that framework over time into a structure and narrative, within an institutional context (implementation) and for evaluating what knowledge and skills learners have gained against expectations (impact/achievement).

The curriculum is made up of 3 distinct parts:


Education and training providers must be clear that curriculum intent is not a list of your curriculum aims published in a document or website.

Curriculum intent is:

a framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and understanding gained at each stage

A framework of aims is very different from a bullet point list of aims

Essentially, the intent is to set out what you want learners to do and why.

When considering a curriculum intent framework, education and training providers need to ensure the following:

  • Your apprenticeship curriculum sets out how knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to take learners to the next stage of education, training, or employment will be developed.

  • You can demonstrate clearly, what learners need to be able to know and do at the end of their learning or training programme

  • You have planned and sequenced the curriculum so that learners can build on previous teaching and learning and develop the new knowledge and skills they need

  • Your curriculum offers learners the knowledge and skills that reflect the needs of the local and regional context

  • Your curriculum intent takes into account the needs of learners, employers, and the local, regional and national economy, as necessary.

  • Your curriculum ensures that all learners benefit from high academic, technical and vocational ambitions.

  • Your curriculum is ambitious for disadvantaged learners or those with SEND, including those with high needs, and should meet those needs.


the translation of that framework over time into a structure and narrative, within an institutional context

The next stage in the Quality of Education judgement is considering how education and training providers demonstrate their implementation. Like curriculum intent, this cannot be covered by a statement in a document or posted to a website.

Inspectors will use various methods to judge curriculum implementation, and a statement will not be sufficient.

Inspector will want to see the following:

  • The curriculum that learners follow

  • Intended endpoints towards which those learners are working

  • How well are learners progressing through the curriculum

  • Reviews of curriculum plans or other long-term planning

  • Observations of classes, workshops and other activities

  • Learner work

  • View of learners

  • How staff record, upload and review data

  • Content and pedagogical content knowledge

When considering a curriculum implementation, education and training providers need to ensure the following:

  • Your staff have expert knowledge of the subjects that they teach. If they do not, they are supported to address gaps so that learners are not disadvantaged by ineffective teaching.

  • Your staff enable learners to understand key concepts, presenting information clearly and promoting discussion.

  • Your staff check learners’ understanding effectively and identify and corrects misunderstandings.

  • Your staff ensure that learners embed key concepts in their long-term memory and apply them fluently and consistently.

  • Your staff have designed and delivered the subject curriculum in a way that allows learners to transfer key knowledge to long-term memory.

  • The curriculum is sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what learners know and can do, and learners can work towards defined endpoints.

  • Your staff use assessment to check learners’ understanding in order to inform teaching

  • Your staff use assessment to help learners embed and use knowledge fluently, develop their understanding, and gain, extend and improve their skills, not memorising disconnected facts.


the evaluation of what knowledge and skills learners have gained against expectations

Finally, education and training providers will then need to address curriculum impact and be clear that the whole purpose of the Quality of Education judgement is for inspectors to focus more on the curriculum and less on the generation, analysis and interpretation of performance data. Inspectors will be interested in the conclusions drawn and actions taken from any internal assessment information, but they will not examine or verify that information first-hand.

To make their judgement, inspectors will look at the following:

  • Learner attainment

  • Evidence of learner progress

  • Destination data

  • Conversations about what they have remembered, the knowledge and skills they have acquired, and how their learning enables them to connect ideas.

When considering curriculum implementation, education and training providers need to ensure the following:

  • Your staff have developed a well-constructed, well-taught curriculum that leads to good results, reflecting what learners have learned.

  • Your staff ensure that disadvantaged learners and learners with SEND acquire the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life.

  • Your staff ensure that, as well as end-point assessments and examinations assessment of learners’ work, can demonstrate what knowledge, skills and behaviours have been developed.

  • Your curriculum ensures that all learning builds towards an endpoint.

  • Through your curriculum, all learners are being prepared for their next stage of education, training or employment at each stage of their learning.


When developing an apprenticeship programme (standards), providers must consider their curriculum intent, implementation and impact.

As well as the detailed questions set out in the sections above, there are general questions that should be asked throughout the curriculum design process:

  • What is going to be taught, how will it be taught, and how will it be sequenced over the course of the apprenticeship

  • How are learners going to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours?

  • How will learners be supported in their progression and be provided with knowledge and skills that will benefit them?

  • What elements of the programme give learners transferable skills and knowledge?

  • How will the apprentice's existing skills and knowledge be built on?


The first step in designing the curriculum plan is to identify the apprenticeship standard's knowledge, skills and behaviours. These standards set out the endpoints that learners will be working towards. However, when designing the curriculum, the intent, implementation and impact cannot be done in isolation. In order to be able to demonstrate impact, providers will first need to determine what the performance measures are for each outcome. This should be a four-step process; state what will be delivered or what the apprentices will need to do, identify the measure type that will be used, define the performance benchmark, and finally schedule when the outcome will be implemented or completed.

For each knowledge, skill or behaviour in the apprenticeship standard providers should be able to show what they are delivering to develop the KSB and how they will determine if the learners have absorbed and retained what has been taught.

What types of measures can providers use?

There is a wide range of performance measures that providers can use, such as:

  • Grades achieved by learners on assessed work

  • Observations

  • Surveys

  • Exams

  • Interviews

  • Products or work

  • Portfolio submissions


Once education and training providers have identified the outcomes, what will be delivered and how learning will be assessed, the next step is creating the curriculum sequence. Inspectors will make a judgement on this:

how carefully leaders have thought about the sequence of teaching knowledge and skills to build on what learners already know and can do.

Like curriculum intent statements, the curriculum sequence cannot just be a vague timetable added to a document or web page.

There needs to be detailed about what is being delivered, when it is being delivered, and why it is being delivered. Inspectors will check to see how “leaders have ensured that a subject curriculum includes content that has been identified as most useful and that this content is taught in a logical progression, systematically and explicitly for all learners to acquire the intended knowledge, skills and behaviours.”

There must be detail – What is the activity? What will apprentices learn? How does it build on previous learning? Is the learning in a logical order? Which outcomes or endpoints are being covered? What learning material will be used? What assessment is planned?


Inspectors will also focus on how the curriculum is taught at the subject, classroom or workshop level. They will want to see teaching examples but will also expect examples of teaching materials; PowerPoint, e-learning, assessments and workbooks.

The development of learning and teaching material is key to successful delivery. It must be relevant to the curriculum activity and the intended learning outcomes. The quality of the material has to meet learner expectations. If staff really cannot create a PowerPoint presentation that is fit for purpose, then there is a clear indicator that additional CPD might be needed. How well do learners enjoy lessons or workshops? Do you get learner reviews at the end of a session? Do you perform observation of teaching, learning and assessment? How do we make sure that staff have the skills to deliver workshops?

Providers also need to review the quality of eLearning and, in some cases, actually introduce it to their programmes. What sort of eLearning system do you use? Is content Scorm or Tin Can, how can you track learning and progress? Do you need a Learning Record Store to dive deeper into apprenticeship learning and activities? Can it be used on mobile devices? Have you considered gamification to encourage learner engagement? How do you give feedback to learners? How does staff feedback support learner development? What do you use to award grades to learners?


When inspectors evaluate the impact of the education provided to learners, they will focus on what learners have learned and the skills they have gained and can apply.

If the curriculum intent planning has been done correctly, then the delivery staff will already have identified the outcomes (endpoints) that need to be achieved, as well as the performance measures that will be used to determine success.

To measure the curriculum impact, staff must review performance on a cyclical basis. This tends to be done annually.

Where apprenticeship providers run rolling programmes, they must determine a suitable cut-off point for their reviews.

The review process should follow the format:

The review of the performance measures has to have a purpose in the improvement of the curriculum. Each performance measure needs to be worked through, and staff must add their findings and recommendations.

Where findings need to improve, then the reviewers should add this to a programme action plan. The action plan is the key document to making improvements to the curriculum and overall delivery.


Stedfast has been designed to plan and measure programme effectiveness and support providers in designing, managing and demonstrating curriculum intent, implementation and impact.

Step 1 Create an assessment plan

The first step in the curriculum planning process in Stedfast is to create the apprenticeship assessment plan. Assessment plans have two purposes:

  • Identify the knowledge, skills and behaviours and set out what will be delivered/taught and how learning will be assessed or demonstrated (Intent)

  • Assessment plan reviews to add findings and determine if knowledge, skills and behaviours have been developed (Impact)

It should be noted that assessment plans are not limited to just apprenticeship programmes. Providers are also able to conduct self-assessment reporting, strategic planning and accreditation reviews in the assessment plan module.

Step 2 Working with Outcomes & Measures

Each programme is made up of outcomes/endpoints (standards). If staff must demonstrate cross-curriculum links, this can also be done. It helps to demonstrate how activities map to other delivery plans such as maths, English, Prevent, Safeguarding etc

Outcomes then need to have one or more measures, i.e.:

Measure detail

Step 3 Create Curriculum Plans

Adding Curriculum Activities

The key feature in the curriculum planning module is the activity planner. Providers can decide if they want to create curriculum plans based on units, modules, courses, themes, topics, workshops etc

In this example, the curriculum has been created around standalone modules and topic workshops:

Adding an activity

Adding a curriculum activity is a three-step process:

1 Activity Options

Explain the activity, when it will be scheduled to be delivered, and whether it will require Learning, Practice and/or Assessment.

2 Add Outcomes – Identify the outcomes that the activity will cover – these are directly linked to the outcomes assessment plan.

3 Delivery Details

Add the delivery details for learning, practice and assessment depending on what has been selected in Step 1. Staff are also able to add resource documents, lesson plans, PowerPoint, handouts etc.

Curriculum Mapping – Check curriculum activities have covered all outcomes

Curriculum Sequence – The curriculum sequence is a key requirement when demonstrating curriculum intent

20% Off the Job Training

The Stedfast Curriculum Planning module has a useful feature for providers to plan their 20% off-the-job training.

This is added after an activity has been created. Providers can add the number of expected learning hours against the scheduled weeks or months that have been set for the activity and against the learning, practice or assessment activities, again, depending on what has been selected.

Measuring Curriculum Impact

At a specific point decided by the organisations, the curriculum plan will review the assessment plan.

These will typically be one-year cycles but can be shorter or longer depending on the provider's requirements.

Adding Findings

Each measure is allocated to a staff member, making the review process collaborative. Staff will add their findings and recommendations.

Adding Actions

Staff are then able to add actions against each of the findings:

Other Modules in Stedfast

  • Staff Performance Management

  • CPD Management

  • Policy and Procedure Management

  • Risk Assessment

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