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Police Community Support Officer Apprenticeship

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Police Community Support Officer Apprenticeship

The Open University (OU) is an experienced supplier of the Police Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF) and is the largest academic institution in the UK and a leading provider in flexible blended learning. Since 1969, the OU has taught more than 2 million students worldwide.

The policing programme is hosted in the OU’s Business School. Only 1% of all business schools are triple-accredited and the OU is one of them earning AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS accreditation.

The OU offers the Police Community Support Officer Apprenticeship (PCSO-A) in line with the College of Policing’s Police Educational Qualification Framework (PEQF).

The PCSO-A programme mixes on-the-job training with off-the-job learning and will provide the skills and knowledge needed for a policing career. The programme leads to a nationally recognised Certificate of Higher Education qualification and offers a significant breadth, depth and complexity of learning whilst providing officers with an income while they learn.


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Why choose The Open University’s Police Community Support Officer Apprenticeship?

The OU is the sector leader in flexible blended learning, allowing apprentices to flexibly combine study with the demands of their police role. OU programmes have been designed and tested through existing police partnerships, ensuring that they are cutting edge and fit for the demands of twenty-first century policing. Some distinctive aspects of our programmes include:

  • Tutor-supported blended learning that is delivered flexibly around the demands of the organisation enabling apprentices to balance study with personal commitments and minimising time away from the workplace.
  • High quality, interactive and engaging learning that has been designed by the OU’s extensive interdisciplinary team of academics and practitioners.
  • The OU is open to all and support students, whatever their prior attainment. This means applicants from all backgrounds receive development including help with study skills as they engage with the programme.
  • Expertise in professional learning that facilitate police apprentices to apply what they learn immediately into practice.
  • The OU has over 50 years’ experience of providing knowledge and skills to busy working adults and there is a successful and proven history of delivering apprenticeship programmes to public sector and related organisations including the National Health Service (NHS) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

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This programme is suitable for people who are looking to become Police Community Support Officers and deliver an enhanced service to the public, maintaining the peace and upholding the law across complex and diverse communities.

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Entry requirements will be set by the relevant police service.

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Police learners will study a range of topics including:

  • Legal foundations of policing: PCSO focus
  • Introduction to community policing 
  • Partnership working and antisocial behaviour 
  • Response policing for PCSOs 
  • Supporting victims, witnesses and the vulnerable 
  • Criminal justice 
  • Information and intelligence: PCSO focus 
  • Policing as a PCSO in the 21st century 
  • Exploring crime and victimology 
  • Vulnerability and public protection policing 

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The PCSO apprenticeship programme is delivered through the OU’s successful blended learning approach. This means police apprentices will gain the necessary skills, knowledge and behaviours required for the role of Police Community Support Officer through a mix of innovative and engaging digital methods as well as traditional teaching approaches. Apprentices access programme content, assessments and feedback through online portals, as well as being able to connect with fellow apprentices and contact tutors and obtain support when they need to do so. Apprentices have immediate access to resources and support at their fingertips without causing disruption to their working day or role.

The OU’s well-developed blended learning approach enables delivery of learning that is responsive to both organisational and officer needs, therefore maximising a return on investment.

Online delivery is both varied and interactive, using rich media formats that engage and enthuse apprentices on their journey. Learning can be accessed 24/7 on computers, tablets and mobile devices. Online forums and tutorials as well as email and telephone communication are used to support apprentices throughout the programme.

An apprenticeship requires a part of an employee’s working time to be allocated and protected for off-the-job training. The OU’s tutor-supported online learning gives apprentices the flexibility to pick the most suitable times around organisational needs – enhancing productivity and reducing time demands on officers.

Modules Completion
Module 1: Professional PCSO practice.

Cert HE awarded.

End-point Assessment (EPA) achieved.

Apprenticeship programme completed.

  Module 2: Evidence concepts and theories in policing
English and maths (functional skills) development*
   Work-based modules
   Theory modules


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The apprenticeship is delivered in partnership with a police service. The OU programme will be supported closely by academic and practitioner colleagues with policing expertise who will link with employers to provide on-going management of the programme delivery. Apprentices are also supported by OU tutors, who help support both, their academic and work-based learning. These operationally and academically experienced tutors support and meet the apprentices regularly and also support the work of police tutors.

On top of account management support, your organisation and apprentices will be supported by the following roles:

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 duties and their workplace environment. Regular engagement with each learner’s line manager or work-based supervisor is a critical component of this role. In addition, the PT coaches the apprentice to integrate their academic learning with their professional work, guide them in the development of their portfolio and prepares them for their end-point assessment.

There are further roles and teams that support both apprentices and employers, and that work very closely with the PTs.

Academic Tutors

The role of the Academic Tutor is to support 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 apprentices’ 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.

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.

English and Maths Support Team

This team is made up of English and/or maths specialist tutors and support staff. They work with apprentices who are required to achieve English and/or maths qualifications during their apprenticeship. These specialist tutors are able to provide one-to-one support in areas of challenge and to help prepare the apprentice for the formal qualification tests.

Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Managers (APDM)

This role supports employers to recruit and onboard applicants on to the chosen apprenticeship programme. APDMs provide information, advice and guidance and carry out an initial assessment to ensure the apprenticeship is the right one at the right level for the individual. APDMs provide quarterly management information reports to employers detailing learners progress and put interventions in place where an apprentice is in need of support. Employers will have a named APDM to be the primary contact for apprenticeship delivery throughout the programme.

Student Development Officer (police tutor)

This is a person identified as responsible for providing 1:1 operational development to Independent Patrol status and mentoring to Fully Operational Competence status.

Line Manager

This is a person in the workplace who supports the choice of apprenticeship programme for their employee or applicant and is involved in the onboarding process with their applicant. Line managers facilitate the apprentice to take planned training time and they fully engage in 12 weekly progress review meetings with the Practice Tutor and apprentice. Line managers have regular one to one meetings with their apprentices to integrate the apprenticeship into performance and development. They are key to enabling a successful work-based project and completion of the apprentice’s end-point assessment.

Follow Open University Police Education on Twitter at @OUPolicing.

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Are you an employee interested in applying for an apprenticeship?

To apply you first need to gain approval from your employer. Please contact your organisation with an expression of interest. If your employer is happy to support your application, they will then contact us.

The process for employers to follow is:

  • The employer contacts the OU.
  • An account manager will contact the employer to discuss the requirements of the programme.
  • The employer chooses the OU as the training provider, confirms how they wish to procure the apprenticeship and signs the written agreement if applicable.
  • The employer selects prospective apprentices and sends their details to the OU.
  • The OU contacts the prospective apprentices and invites them to formally apply via the OU’s secure applicant portal.
  • Prospective apprentices gather evidence to demonstrate their eligibility and submit their application.
  • Apprentices take part in the on-boarding process where they are introduced to the apprenticeship and supported by an Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager (APDM).
  • Following successful registration, apprentices are recommended to engage with the pre-study material.

Contact us

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The following programmes are offered through our innovative blended learning platforms in partnerships with police services nationally:

Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP)

We also offer the PEQF Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) which is aimed at degree-holders, attained in any subject area. This two-year practice-based programme enables candidates to perform the role of Police Constable. Successful completion results in the achievement of a Graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practice. Although not an apprenticeship itself, the Degree Holder Entry Programme is delivered using the same methodology as the PCDA.

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Develop the relevant skills for your organisation, improve productivity and achieve higher staff morale.

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Earn while you learn and develop the skills you need to gain access to sectors you want to work in.


We’re an Approved/Appointed Supplier on a large number of national frameworks and dynamic purchasing systems. See which frameworks are available to procure this programme through.

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Police Community Support Officer Apprenticeship

Our Police Community Support Officer Apprenticeship programme mixes on-the-job training with off-the-job learning and provides the skills and knowledge needed for a policing career.

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Education & Skills Funding Agency Apprenticeships  

Programme Summary

Location: England


  • 1 year + 3 months for the end-point assessment.

Level and standard

Specific entry requirements

  • No

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

  • No

End-point assessment (EPA)

  • Non-integrated

Qualifications achieved at the end of the programme

  • Certificate of Higher Education in Community Policing Practice
  • Police Community Support Officer Apprenticeship awarded by the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE)

Additional information

Contact us

Disability support

Further information

For a more detailed look at our Police Community Support Officer Apprenticeship, download our brochure.

Download brochure

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