Skip navigation

Coronavirus: Break in learning rule suspended for apprentices

Ref : B20-25

Type : Amendment

Date : 9 March 2020

In order to support the sector during any disruption which may be experienced due to Covid-19 these are the initial recommendations from the Department for Education:

1. Apprentices who are ready for assessment – i.e. who reach gateway and cannot be assessed due to assessor illness or Covid-19 related measures, will be allowed to have a break in learning. This should protect funding and completion of apprenticeships and should be reflected in the July completion rules. The normal breaks in learning process should be followed and therefore we only need notifying once a break in learning has exceeded 4 weeks. A break in learning must occur before the learner is recorded as completed. Apprentices can go on a break in learning between completing the learning activity (learning actual end date) and the assessment, but there would be no requirement to record in this in the ILR as it will not have an effect on funding.

2. Apprentices who experience gaps in training due to Covid-19 related illness in the workplace or off the job can classify this period as a break in learning. The normal breaks in learning process should be followed and therefore we only need notifying once a break in learning has exceeded 4 weeks.

3. Usually, breaks in learning are only permitted where they are learner driven, however we are aware that there may be occasion where an employer who is following government advice may take action that results in an apprenticeship have to be paused. In these occasions a break in learning can be used where there will be a break of longer than 4 weeks. The normal breaks in learning process should be followed.

4. In order to maintain the integrity of high quality assessment of apprenticeships we are going to monitor the situation and will issue further advice and modifications relating to specific assessment methods if necessary.

5. We advise adhering to the current escalation process of raising EPA (end-point assessment) issues through EQAPs (external quality assurance providers) in the first instance.

There is a need for everyone (employer, provider, EPAO, Apprentice) to take a reasonable and balanced approach in these situations and to recognise that the health and wellbeing of individuals is a higher priority than performance measures.

We know that good communications between each of these parties is important to the successful delivery of EPA anyway. So, in these circumstances that communication becomes even more important.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) will shortly be publishing guidance for this area in response to potential disruption from Covid-19.