Trailblazer FAQs

1. Getting Started

Why should an employer or training provider choose the ATT for the end-point assessment services?

The Association of Taxation Technicians is on the Register of Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations (RoAAO) for the Level 4 Professional Taxation Technician apprenticeship standard.

The ATT is the leading professional body for those providing UK tax compliance services and is the only professional body at Level 4 specialising in taxation.

The ATT's entry number on the register is EPA00070

How much does it cost per apprentice for the end-point assessment with the ATT?

It costs £575 per apprentice.

What funding band is the Professional Taxation Technician apprenticeship in?

The funding cap is £9,000 (ESFA funding band 9).

Where can I find the Assessment Plan and Standard for the Professional Taxation Technician apprenticeship?

These can be found here and here

2. On-programme delivery

When should the apprentice start building their portfolio of evidence?

The apprenticeship allows time for the apprentice to learn and to develop their skills. Unlike the older way of doing the apprenticeship, where there was much more pressure to start building portfolios of work, there is now more time for learning and more focus on capturing larger pieces of coherent and holistic work that represents the apprentice at their best. The focus is now on beginning to start the evidence building process when the apprentice is ready to apply the knowledge, skills and behaviours learned to demonstrate their best work.

What kind of evidence should an apprentice put in their portfolio of evidence?

The portfolio is made up of two types of evidence:

  • the apprentice's best work
  • the apprentice's account of their learning and skills development journey

Their best work will:

  • demonstrate attainment of the knowledge, skills and behaviours identifed in the apprenticeship standard
  • show the application of learning and skills
  • contain substantial real work tasks that have been completed. These will need to be suitably anonymised if client specific details are involved. 

 

What is the training log for?

The training log is designed to be a record of the apprentice's work and a record of where the evidence of attainment can be found in the portfolio. It will build up over time and indicate which parts of the apprenticeship have been learned as the apprentice progresses.

What is the relationship between the training log and the portfolio?

The training log provides a useful structure to the learning, attainment and evidence building over time. It can be used to chart the progress made during the on-programme part of the apprentice's journey.

What is the relationship between the training log and the regular progress reviews?

The training log provides a useful structure to the learning, attainment and evidence building over time. It can be used to chart the progress made during the on-programme part of the apprentice's journey. As a result, it should be used to inform discussion during the regular progress reviews and will serve as a useful way to access and understand the work being put in the portfolio of evidence.

3. Factoring in the ATT examinations during the on-programme phase

When should the examinations be scheduled during the on-programme part of the apprenticeship?

Each employer will decide the appropriate times and the training provider will also be able to offer any guidance that is required.

Where can I find out more information on the ATT examinations?

For further information please click here

If an apprentice has passed all their ATT examinations, are they eligible for membership?

The apprentice can apply for membership as long as they satisfy the other requirements. The membership requirements are a minimum of 2 years' experience, either part-time or full-time, working in taxation or in any other occupation which entails an element of UK taxation and to be a fit and suitable person for admission. They will need to send a self-certified statement of their working experience.

Please see here for full details. 

4. Gateway

What is the Gateway?

The Gateway is a short process designed to check that the apprentice is ready for the end-point assessment. As a process, the checks involve ensuring the pre-requisite requirements are in place (as indicated in the assessment plan) and that the apprentice is provisionally competent.

When does an apprentice go through the Gateway?

When they are deemed provisionally competent, have the necessary pre-requisites for the end-point assessment (e.g. the English and Maths requirements) and are ready for the end-point assessment.

What are the training provider and employer roles in the Gateway process?

Those providing training will want to have a good, constructive relationship and frequent dialogue with the employer about how the apprentice is progressing. With the employer afforded the ultimate decision on whether to put the apprentice through to the end-point assessment, good practice would suggest that this decision be informed by the training provider (and apprentice) views on the matter.

When is the earliest an apprentice can go through the Gateway?

After they have completed at least the minimum 12 months of on-programme training.

When is the earliest an apprentice can take the end-point assessment?

All apprenticeships are required to be at least 12 months long with the end-point assessment activity occurring after this period.

When will the apprentice be ready for the end-point assessment?

When the work in the portfolio is at the right level, of the right sort and demonstrates that the requirements of the apprenticeship standard are being addressed.

How can the apprentice register for the end-point assessment?

The ATT registration process will be available in due course.

5. End-point assessment (EPA)

When is the end-point assessment available?

There will be March, June and December sittings each year. In 2018, the first EPA will be in December.

What is the end-point assessment requirement for the apprenticeship?

The EPA is made up of two components and each has to be passed for the apprentice to be deemed competent.

The first component is a Portfolio of Evidence. This will demonstrate that the apprentice is competent in the knowledge, skills and behaviours defined in the standard. These will have been gathered from practical experience in the workplace. The portfolio includes a Reflective Statement, which accompanies and reflects on the portfolio contents. More more details please click here

The second component is a Role Simulation, which will give the apprentice an opportunity to tackle a series of business-related tasks through a simulation that reflects activities undertaken in a typical role at this level. For more details please click here

Where can I find out more about the Role Simulation?

There is further information here.

What type of pre-seen information will be available?

Pre-seen information for the Role Simulation will consist of basic information, such as some emails/memos on the organisation's plans and issues about the fictitious organisation.

Is there any reading time for the Role Simulation?

No.  The apprentice has 2.5 hours to complete the Role Simulation, there is no separate reading time.

What can the apprentice bring with them on the day for the Role Simulation?

The Role Simulation is open book and the apprentice will be able to bring in paperwork that they think will help them on the day, such as ATT course manuals, notes made on a printed copy of the pre-seen information and so forth. All apprentices must bring their copy of the Law and Professional Responsibilities & Ethics manuals with them.

When will the pre-seen information be available?

The pre-seen information will be available on the ATT website 4 weeks before the date of the Role Simulation session. The training providers will also have a copy of the pre-seen information.

What is the pass mark?

70% is the pass mark in the Role Simulation. 90% or more is a distinction.

How is the final apprenticeship grade worked out?

To be awarded a Pass an apprentice must achieve the following:

  • competence in all knowledge, skills and behaviours requirements of the standard via their portfolio including the reflective statement, and
  • a score of at least 70% in the Role Simulation

To be awarded a Distinction an apprentice must acheive the following:

  • competence in all knowledge, skills and behaviours requirements of the standard via their portfolio including the Reflective Statement, and
  • a score of at least 90% in the Role Simulation.

Can an apprentice retake any of the end-point assessment requirements?

Yes they can. However, please note all the end-point assessment requirements have to be passed within a 12 month period, otherwise the apprentice will be required to resit all elements of the EPA, even those elements they have already passed.

Does the ATT charge for resits? How much?

Yes, it will cost £135 to resit the Role Simulation and £440 to resubmit the Portfolio of Evidence.

We have an apprentice with an additional learning need. How is this taken into consideration during the end-point assessment?

You should indicate well in advance of the end-point assessment any specific considerations or reasonable adjustments that an apprentice may require because of any additional or specific learning need. Further information can be found here

What happens to an employer’s funding if their apprentice does not pass the end-point assessment?

The funds are transferred to the tuition provider after the apprentice has attempted the end-point assessment.

How much does the end-point assessment cost?

It costs £575.  This includes both elements, the Portfolio and the Role Simulation.

Where can I sit the end-point assessment?

You can sit the end-point assessments at the following locations:

  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Leeds
  • London
  • Manchester

6. General

What are the key changes in the move to the new standards-based approach for apprenticeships?

While the new standards-based apprenticeships still give apprentices the opportunity to study the ATT qualification, there are some qualitative differences between the existing and the new apprenticeships. There is a move away from the predominantly unit-based approach of the old-style apprenticeships where apprentices collect different qualifications to make up an apprenticeship. The new apprenticeships require apprentices to complete an end-point assessment after a period of learning and training. For ATT's Trailblazer in taxation, the end-point assessment will consist of a Portfolio of Evidence, Reflective Statement and Role Simulation.

What happens to apprentices studying for the existing Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Tax?

Any apprentices underway with their apprenticeships on the existing Level 4 Higher Apprenticeships will continue as normal. There is no need to transfer across to the new standards, they can finish the programme requirements they started. As a result, any apprentice registered before 1 August 2017 is also funded as per the current funding rules for the duration of their apprenticeship.

Are the new apprenticeship standards going to be implemented across the UK?

No. Currently the Trailblazer Apprenticeship standards and the apprenticeship reform programme applies to England only. The Specification of Apprenticeship Standards in Wales (SASW) remains in place and apprentices and training providers in Wales will need to adhere to the current framework requirements. Scotland and Northern Ireland also retain their existing apprenticeship frameworks.

Do these apprenticeship reforms apply in Wales?

Employers in Wales will not be able to put employees on the Level 4 Professional Taxation Technician apprenticeship.

Employers instead may be interested in putting employees through the ATT's new Foundation qualifications in Personal and Business Taxation. There is also a Foundation paper in VAT. These will be available soon and more information will be provided in due course.

Do these apprenticeship reforms apply in Scotland?

Employers in Scotland will not be able to put employees on the Level 4 Professional Taxation Technician apprenticeship.

Employers instead may be interested in putting employees through the ATT's new Foundation qualifications in Personal and Business Taxation. There is also a Foundation paper in VAT.  Please click here for more information.

Scottish (Welsh and Northern Irish) apprenticeship policy is part of the wider devolved education and training policy arrangements. This means that Scotland will retain an apprenticeship model based on National Occupational Standards (NOS) with England moving away from NOS and building a new apprenticeship model based on the employer-defined standards at the centre of the Trailblazer reform.

How does the funding of new apprenticeships work across the UK?

Funding is based on where the apprentice lives and works. As Trailblazer is an England-only reform, training providers and apprentice assessment organisations and employers can only be funded in England for undertaking English apprenticeships.

Employers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can still employ apprentices who undertake the Trailblazer apprenticeship but they would receive no government funding for this.

Can an employer not paying the Apprenticeship Levy get any support for taking on an apprentice?

Non-levy paying employers will share the cost of training and assessing their apprentices with the government - this is called 'co-investment'. From May 2017, employers pay 10% towards the cost of apprenticeship training and the government will pay the rest (90%), up to the funding band maximum. For more information click here

Are there any additional financial incentives for employing an apprentice aged 16-18 years?

Yes. Additional support is available (such as an incentive payment of £1,000) and further details can be found here

Can existing employees qualify for funding?

Yes. Find out more here

Will graduates be eligible for funding on the Level 4 Trailblazer?

The government guidance makes it clear that apprenticeship funding is made available for the development of significant and substantive new skills. So, if a graduate isn't coming from a closely related study programme or a related degree, they should be able to start on the Level 4 Trailblazer.

How much will the training for the new apprenticeship standards cost?

This is really a matter for the training provider and the employer to establish and to reach formal agreement on. When the price for delivery of training is agreed, the provider and employer can agree the payment schedule and written agreement that will underpin the service provision. This process should be captured as a legal agreement.

Government funds can be used for what elements of the apprenticeship?

Government funds can only be used to pay for the training, education and assessment of apprentices. This includes the following:

  • on-the-job and off-the-job training;
  • planned on-programme assessment and formal end-point assessment (including costs associated with external quality assurance and certification of the apprenticeship);
  • costs associated with e-learning and any admin directly linked to the above.

Funding can also be used for the apprentice to retake any qualifications required for the apprenticeship (such as GCSEs or A-Levels), providing that additional learning takes place.

What will the employer be expected to pay for?

Where there are costs associated with an apprentice that are not coverend by the government funding, the employer will be expected to meet these. For example, the salary of the apprentice and any additional costs that come with recruitment and training of a member of staff within their organisation would be the responsibility of the employer.

The employer will not be able to recover the cost of registering the apprentice for the ATT examinations, nor the examination entry fees.

Can an employer charge for internal training they give their apprentices?

Yes, under the employer-provider route. This route is for employers that pay the levy and who want to provide apprenticeship training to their own staff. However, the employer would have to be on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers. See here for further details. 

What is the minimum number of working hours for apprentices?

Apprentices will need to work 30 hours a week or more, including any off-the-job training they undertake. This requirement has been set by the government so that apprentices can undertake sufficient, regular training and on-the-job activity and complete their apprenticeship successfully.

Can an employer offer their own apprenticeship training?

Yes. If they want to deliver their own apprenticeship training, they will need to meet the requirements of the new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). The registration process will assess the employer's ability to deliver high quality apprenticeships, as well as their financial health and eligibility to receive funding. See here for further details. 

Which employers can become training providers for apprenticeships?

The employer-provider route is for levied employers who want to provide apprenticeship training to their own staff. These providers can also act as a subcontractor to a main provider, but they will not be eligible to deliver to non-levied employers.

By choosing the employer-provider model, the employer will need to undergo a rigorous proces to join the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP), as well as submit monthly reporting documents to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Can apprentices complete the Professional Taxation Technician Level 4 apprenticeship quicker than 18 months?

Yes, an apprentice can complete the Level 4 Trailblazer in less than 18 months. The apprenticeship standard mentions that the apprenticeship should typically take 18-24 months and all apprenticeships have to last a minimum of 12 months (not counting the end-assessment time). Apprentices can not go through the gateway until after 12 months. After that they can, providing of course they have reached the required standard to do so.

How much off-the-job learning time should there be?

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) guidance states that the employer must allow the apprentice a minimum of 20% of working hours for off-the-job training. The employer decides at what point during the apprenticeship the training is best delivered (for example, one day a week throughout, one week out of every five, a proportion at the beginning, middle and end).

Does the apprentice have to be employed?

Apprentices must be employed in a job that has real purpose, working a minimum of 30 hours per week.