December Newsletter

Hello and Welcome, 

In this newsletter, we will be updating you on the following:

  • General Update

  • Qualification of the Month

  • Upcoming Award Sponsorships

  • Delivering Improved Driving Skills

  • Qualification Development

  • Qualification Survey

  • IfATE Flexibility framework 

  • Covid-19 Standard Adaptations

  • CSCS Skilled Worker Cards

  • Our Christmas Shutdown

General Update

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, when will it stop! It feels like only yesterday we were returning home from our summer holidays preparing for September intakes, and now we’re all rushing to support our apprentices in time for winter submissions! Luckily the OAL newsletter is here to relieve your mind of how many presents you still need to buy, (for me the number is still double figures) as we cover all the latest essentials!

This month’s newsletter will focus on a range of industry updates, beginning with our regular feature of qualification of the month and highlighting qualification development opportunities, as well our desire to gather your opinions on qualification development with our short survey. We cover the fantastic apprenticeship awards that we are sponsoring including the Annual Apprenticeship Conference Awards in March 2022. As well as our recently approved Level 3 Qualification in Improved Driving Skills. Everything you need to know before we’re all snowed in (although I’m sure many of us feel snowed under already!) 

Qualification of the Month

Last month we focused on the fantastic OAL Level 3 Diploma in Supply Chain Practice, and and we thought it fitting to follow up with the OAL level 3 Diploma in Retail Management. a qualification I think we can all appreciate at this time of year. 

This qualification is designed to build upon the skills and knowledge in retail to develop into a senior role within the retail sector. The retail sector is diverse and covers a range of industries including trade, high street stores, supermarkets, e-commerce and wholesale.

Learners will be able to demonstrate their ability to lead and manage their teams through excellent organisation and communication, with a sound understanding of both business and people management skills. The role of the Retail Manager involves maximising income and minimising wastage through continuous improvement and engagement, enhancing their team in business performance and productivity.

For more information on our Retail qualifications click on the links above or apply for qualification approval through OAL Online.

Upcoming Award Sponsorships

We are the proud sponsor of the Engineering and Manufacturing programme of the year award at the Annual Apprenticeship Awards 2022 organised by FE Week and the AELP next March.

We would love to see some of our stakeholders up for nominations, and would be happy to support you in your application to one of 15 categories. Applications close on the 16th of December. 

Feel free to get in touch with Zach if you would like support with your application. Or submit a nomination yourself using the button below!

Delivering Improved Driving Skills

On the 29th of November our new qualification OAL Level 3 Award in Delivering Improved Driving Skills went live. 

This qualification has been designed to introduce learners to training and assessing in the driver training industry. It is for those who wish to train existing drivers to improve their driving skills and drive in a safer manner using safe an economic techniques.

It will cover the principles of training and assessing, safer driving and planning and delivering a training session. Click above to learn more about this fantastic new opportunity and download a copy of our Qualification Specification. 

Qualification Development

Do you have a course or an idea that you would like to see turned into a regulated qualification? Our product team can support in the development of qualifications and associated materials to turn your idea into an OAL Award, Certificate or Diploma. 

The first step is to register your interest and give a brief outline of your qualification suggestion by using this form.

Once the form is received, you will be contacted by our Product Development team who will arrange an online meeting with you to go through your requirements in more detail.  

Our Qualification Survey

We want to get your opinion on the qualifications we offer to ensure we are providing all the qualifications you want! We aim to build upon our existing partnership and collaborate with you to develop any new qualifications you would like to offer to your learners, by discussing your business needs to support your programme delivery.

For us to do this effectively, we would appreciate a short amount of your time in completing our short survey. It will only take 5 minutes, and your views and ideas will contribute to OALs qualification strategy and influence the qualifications we will introduce to our expanding portfolio. 

IfATE Flexibility Framework

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) has now published the flexibilities framework that sets out how the ten flexibilities, created by the Institute, and introduced to support continued delivery of apprenticeship end-point assessments (EPA) through COVID-19 will be applied after 31 December 2021.

Three flexibilities will now be switched off at midnight on 28 February 2022, instead of the end of December this year as previously planned. These allow for:

  1. Changes to be made to who sits on the end point assessment (EPA) interview/discussion panel (when someone in addition to the independent assessor is specified)

  2. Suitable evidence of achievements being used in replacement of functional skills qualifications at gateway (other mandated qualifications are covered under temporary discretions)

  3. Extension to the length of the end-point assessment period (where specified 

The other seven flexibilities will still be retained – but they will have to follow guidance set out in our new Flexibility Framework from 28 February 2022:

  1. Observations taking place in simulated environments

  2. Remote delivery of assessment (including invigilation)  

  3. Pauses being allowed between assessment methods during end-point assessment period 

  4. Assessments taking place outside of usual venues 

  5. Delivery of assessment methods in any order (when a specified order is in the assessment plan)

  6. Exams/tests being online instead of on paper (where originally specified as paper based only)

  7. Gateway sign off being done remotely (where originally specified as having to be face to face) 

The Institute has also updated its guidance around the use of temporary discretions, which only apply to specific apprenticeships. Some of these have already been granted a 6 month extension, at the request from their sectors. The others will now be available until midnight 28 February 2022.

Please refer to the framework to see how the system will work in future. 

Covid-19 Standard Adaptations

Great news, OAL has managed to secure extensions to the Covid-19 Adaptations until June 30th 2022 for the following standards:

  • Fitted Furniture Design Technician
  • Food & Drink Maintenance Engineer
  • Food & Drink Advanced Process Operator
  • Food & Drink Process Operator

This has only been achieved thanks to the partnership approach we took working closely with our employers and providers so thank you for your contribution in helping us to maintain these adaptations into 2022.

The new Omicron variant only serves to underline how important it was for us to maintain these adaptations into the new year!

Although we were informed that no other OAL standard would be getting an extension, due to the increase in coronavirus cases, IfATE have agreed to extend all adaptations for standard until February 28th.

Currently the functional Skills flexibility, removing the need to “attempt” Level 2 English and Maths for Level 2 Apprenticeships is due to end on the 31st December 2021 so get your gateways in now if you want to make use of this flexibility!

CSCS Skilled Worker Cards

9 of our existing qualifications are linked to CSCS Skilled Worker Card.

  • Level 5 Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Practice   
  • NVQ Diploma Level 3 in Fitted Furniture Installation          
  • NVQ Level 2 in Fitted Furniture Installation
  • NVQ Diploma Level 2 in Finishing Furniture (Hand Finishing)        
  • NVQ Diploma Level 3 in Finishing Furniture              
  • NVQ Level 2 in Finishing Furniture                              
  • NVQ Level 2 in Furniture Restoration                       
  • NVQ Diploma Level 2 in Wood Products Manufacturing   
  • L2 Diploma in Solid Surfaces   
All applicants must have passed the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test within the last 2 years and this combined with one of the above qualifications would enable them to apply for a Skilled Worker CSCS Card. 

Christmas Shutdown

We will be closing for Christmas on the 23rd of December. We will return from our Christmas and New Year holiday on Tuesday 4th January 2022.

We will be processing apprenticeship EPA Gateways and taking bookings for End Point Assessment until 4.30pm on Tuesday 21st December 2021. We will be available to answer customer queries until Christmas Eve by emailing us at or calling our landline.  Any Gateways or booking allocations received after this date will not be processed until the 4th January 2022.

Can we ask all our customers to ensure any apprentices they want booking in for End Point Assessment before Christmas are processed before these cut off dates.

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