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How The Open University supports apprentices

All apprentices will be supported throughout their apprenticeship by our experienced staff.

Practice Tutor (PT)

The PT is a key role and provides individual support to apprentices to progress and complete all the requirements of the apprenticeship or professional programme they have enrolled in. The support is tailored to the context of each learner’s professional dutiess, their workplace environment and their Training Plan. Regular engagement with each learner’s line manager or work-based supervisor are critical components of this role and the PT will conduct quarterly tripartite meetings with them. In addition, the PT coaches the apprentice to integrate their academic learning with their professional work, guides them in the development of their portfolio and prepares them for their end-point assessment.

In the following video Annette (Netty) Deegan explains why doing an apprenticeship with the OU was the right choice. Her Practice Tutor Janet Bardsley talks about how she supports Netty through regular meetings, checks on her progress and helps her to link experience and learning to the apprenticeship standards.

Nursing degree apprentices are supported by Nursing Staff Tutors who liaise between the workplace and The OU to ensure apprentices are able to successfully complete their apprenticeship. They also support employers to deliver the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship and the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship to meet both organisational needs and the quality assurance requirements set down by the NMC, such as practice learning requirements and learning environment audits.

Academic Tutor

The Academic Tutor supports success by using, interpreting and building on the teaching resources produced by the OU and provided to apprentices. They monitor progression, mark assignments, provide personalised feedback and work in partnership to support the apprentice’s academic, personal and professional development. In addition, Academic Tutors provide pastoral support to apprentices. They are sometimes also referred to as Associate Lecturers or Module Tutors.

English and Maths Support Team

This team, composed of experienced English and/or maths specialist tutors and support staff, work with apprentices in England who need to achieve English and/or maths qualifications at level 2 during their apprenticeship. They will provide individual support to help apprentices upskill and prepare for their English and/or maths exams. All apprentices in England need to have achieved level 2 English and maths qualifications before they can pass Gateway and move onto the end-point assessment (EPA) leading to the completion of their apprenticeship programme.

Apprenticeship Enrolment and Support Team (AEST)

The AEST supports apprentices throughout their Apprenticeship journey. This team of friendly Senior Advisors can offer advice and support for a range of queries apprentices may have whilst studying their modules, whether that be for advice on an upcoming assignment or exam, navigation around the OU online learning platforms or when they are experiencing difficult circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. This support team is able to reach out to a wide range of relevant teams within the University to help apprentices get back on track again.

Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager (APDM)

APDMs support applicants in their onboarding stage and ensure each individual is on the apprenticeship that is right for them considering their goals and prior qualifications. They provide regular progress reports to employers as well as advice and support to both employers and their apprentices when issues arise that make the continuation of the apprenticeship challenging, require a break in learning or where apprentices need to find another employer.

In some regulated programmes the onboarding stage is supported by staff tutors. 

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone, which is why more disabled students choose the OU than any other UK university.

The OU aims to make study as accessible as possible and a range of adjustments and support are included in modules for all learners as standard. Further adjustments are possible if apprentices tell us that they have a disability or health condition and are able to provide supporting evidence to access specialist support. It's their choice whether to let us know about a disability or health condition that may affect their study. It enables us to support them more effectively if we know their specific requirements.

Find out more about what disability support is available.

Note: Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) are not available to apprenticeship learners, however, they may be eligible for Access to Work, which apprentices can discuss with their apprenticeship employer.

Martyn Carroll, an apprentice at South Western Railway, explains how the OU is supporting his learning with dyslexia and is helping him prepare for his English and maths qualifications during his apprenticeship while Sarah shares how the OU has supported her study while she was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Progress review meetings (tripartite meetings)

Practice tutors hold regular meetings with each apprentice and their line manager, to discuss their progress in line with their Training Plan, review off-the-job activities and plan goals for the coming months. Tripartite meetings ensure the apprentice has the support and opportunities needed to develop relevant skills and behaviours in the workplace enabling integration of academic learning with work-based practice that will support and enhance their apprenticeship.

Gateway and end-point assessment (EPA) support

The decision as to whether the apprentice is ready to proceed through gateway and onto the EPA ultimately rests with the employer. Gateway requirements differ depending upon the apprenticeship standard being followed and can be found in the Assessment Plan on the IfATE website. The Practice Tutor will support the apprentice in preparing for the EPA (EPA activities are aligned to individual Standards and can be found in the relevant Assessment Plan on the IfATE website). The EPA is only applicable to apprenticeships in England.

The OU offers apprentices a range of resources to help them reflect on their career goals and identify a path within their organisation to achieve them. Career and employability services will be available to apprentices throughout their studies with us and for three years after they have completed their qualifications.

All apprentices will have access to the following additional learning resources.

  • Online library, containing a world-class collection of high-quality academic and professional resources
  • OpenLearn, a free learning resources website

Education & Skills Funding Agency Apprenticeships  

Disability support

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