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1. The FFDP programme that the Fire Service College is offering is your standard 8-week programme, is it possible to tailor this to specific requirements and what impact would this have on costs?

The FFDP course fits carefully into a progressive, spiral curriculum that has been specifically designed to meet the requirements of the apprenticeship scheme. The course is based upon the well-proven current course that the FSC offers, with some alterations around how learning is assessed and in how functional skills are developed.  As the learning requirements of the scheme have been carefully analysed and mapped into a progressive curriculum, the learning objectives of the FFDP cannot be altered and the 8-week course is a key part of the offer.  The 8-week duration of the scheme equates to 13% of the ‘away from workplace’ training requirement of an apprenticeship scheme. There is scope to meet specific FRS requirements within each learning module, but this may result in additional costs, if that training is more expensive to deliver. In addition to the 8 weeks that are offered as part of the apprenticeship scheme, FRS can purchase additional training modules at FSC which would count towards the remaining mandatory 7% (21 day) ‘away from workplace’ training requirement. If you require a bespoke aspect, please contact the FSC directly for a discussion. (See Annex B for more detail)[1].

[1] At time of writing, top-up cost for apprenticeship scheme is £3900, compared with £8700 for the non-apprenticeship version of the FFDP.  

2. What does the £3900 top-up fee pay for?

The cost to deliver the apprenticeship scheme is £15,900, which is similar to the £16,000 that the initial trailblazers determined it would cost to deliver the scheme.  As the maximum levy that can be drawn down is £12,000, the funding gap is £3,900.  The top-up fee therefore does not represent any specific costs, but the delta between the levy and the actual cost to deliver the scheme. 

3. What experience does the Fire Service College have in delivering apprenticeships?

3. The apprenticeship is being delivered by Capita.  The scheme is being administered, overseen and quality controlled by a Capita Company, Knowledgepool, who are acting as partner to FSC in both the development the delivery of the apprenticeship.  Knowledgepool have extensive experience and are one of the UK’s leading Apprenticeship providers and will continue to ensure that the scheme remains at the very cutting edge of apprenticeship delivery best practice.

4. Who is eligible, age limitations etc.

The scheme is only open to FRS and private sector employers in England.  A learner must meet the following mandatory requirements to be able to apply for an apprenticeship scheme:

  • Hold a valid passport
  • Hold a valid birth certificate
  • Hold a residence permit if not UK national
  • Have a National Insurance Number
  • Have lived in the UK for 3 years prior to apprenticeship start date
5. Can people with previous firefighting experience apply?

People with previous firefighting experience can apply for enrolment on the scheme.  However, one of the requirements of an apprenticeship is that is demonstrates that it is delivering significant amounts of new learning for each learner.  On the enrolment process, each learning will go through a skillscan process with a talent coach or trained member of FSC/ Knowledgepool staff, where there current competency will be assessed.  For the results of this process, if it is assessed that the scheme will not deliver significant amounts of new learning, Capita will not be permitted to draw down a full levy for that learner and would not enrol the learner upon the scheme.  In this case an FRS would have 2 options:

  • To increase the amount of top-up fee paid to Capita to close the gap between the allocated levy and the £15900 cost.
  • To withdraw the learner’s application and train them using the non-apprenticeship route.

It is the judgement of FRS SMEs at FSC that anyone applying with military or retained (on-call) firefighting experience in the last 3 years is unlikely to qualify for a full levy.

6. Can learners on the open programme apply for an apprenticeship scheme?

The cost model for the scheme is built around some assumptions of efficiencies on talent coach time by having groups of learners in the same geographic location.  Ideally, FRS would sign-up learners in multiples of 3 to help achieve that efficiency.  Where there are less than 3 applicants from an FRS for the scheme, each case should be considered on its commercial merits before offering the scheme.

7. Where does the responsibility of care lie?

The responsibility for safeguarding of learners ultimately rest with the employer.  However, we take the issue of safeguarding very seriously.  The FSC already has a fantastic safety record in training delivery and effective, best practice procedures for continuous improvement in this critical area.  In addition, a safeguarding officer has been appointed at FSC and all Capita instructors, talent coaches and facilitators who will be responsible for delivery of the apprenticeship will have undertaken additional comprehensive safeguarding training. All personnel who require it will have successfully completed the EDBS process.  Finally, all learners will receive comprehensive briefs on all safeguarding matters on their induction as FSC.  All of this will in-turn be overseen by Knowledgepool’s own safeguarding team.

8. Safeguarding training and responsibilities?

Please see above.

9. Where and how have we recruited our talent coaches and can we confirm that they have the skills to fulfil their role?

All Talent Coaches will be sector competent, qualified instructors and have a current assessor qualification[1] who will have previous experience of mentoring new firefighters.  They will be full-time FSC employees, who will have been carefully selected for this appointment.  They will work to managers within the FSC. Their performance will be measured against KPIs and these will be regularly monitored with the tutor.  In addition, they will also be supported by qualified and sector-competent quality development facilitators (a bit like IQA staff) who will be responsible for the continued development of the talent coaches, as well as reporting performance directly to FSC and Knowledgepool.

[1] If they do not have this on appointment, they will have achieved it within the first 6 months.

10. Talent coaches duty of care training / training / performance monitoring

Please see above.

11. What happens if learners can’t prove that they have a level 2 qualification in maths & English

11. The functional skills of all learners will be developed during the scheme and all will go through functional skills testing as part of the enrolment process to identify their individual learning needs.  However, learners who are unable to prove their level 2 equivalent certificates in maths and English[1] as part of the sign-up (enrolment) process (see Annex D) will be enrolled on a Fourskills Functional Skills programme, co-ordinated by Knowledge Pool. All learners must achieve a Level 2 standard in the functional skills to complete the apprenticeship. 

[1] If they have lost either of these, they may be able to contact the issuing awarding body and get a re-printed certificate for around £35.  

12. Compliance with OFSTED

There is a requirement that our apprenticeship programmes comply with the OFSTED Common Inspection Framework (CIF) and we would be subject to OFSTED inspections in the same way that other training/educational organisations are. FSC’s compliance in this area has been overseen by Knowledgepool.

13. What level of accommodation at the FSC will be provided?

The FSC FFDP training package allows for accommodation in our Bridges block. Based on availability Fire and Rescue Services would be able to upgrade accommodation at an additional cost[1].   This would be invoiced separately by the FSC.

[1] At time of writing £45 per person, per night for single en-suite.

14. How will the progress of learners be tracked?

Knowledgepool have developed a state-of-the-art Learning Management System (LMS), Tessello, specifically designed to meet the requirements of apprenticeship programmes.  On enrolment, all learners will be given their own Tessello log-on details.  Within Tessello, they will find all the learning materials that they need, structured around their own learning journey.  Learners and instructors will upload evidence of learning to this system.  In addition, Tessello gives learners individual access to their nominated talent coach, as well as the opportunity to share experiences and materials with other learners on their programme.  Progress will be assessed by the talent coach, in conjunction with the learner’s line managers at their FRS.  Talent coaches will have at least monthly contact with each learner.  Progress will be reported to Knowledgepool monthly and additional plans will be put in place to support learners who are not making sufficient progress, or to provide additional challenge to those who need it to achieve their full potential.

15. How will the additional £3900 top-up fee be invoiced to the FRS?

The £3900 top-up fee for the apprenticeship scheme will be initially payable to FSC. Any upgrades or additional training modules above this will be invoiced by the FSC.

16. How will observations be captured?

Talent Coaches will conduct 6 formal observations[1] of the performance of the learner during the 2- year duration of the course.  These observations, and any other captured by instructors during the FFDP phase of the course, will be captured on the Tessello LMS (see question 14 above).  

[1] 5 In the work-place and once during the FFDP element at FSC

17. Fire Service College as an EPA?

The requirements of the apprenticeship scheme are such that the EPA must be conducted by a body who has not been responsible for the teaching and learning of the apprentices.  The only body who are developing an EPA for the Operational Firefighter Apprenticeship Level 3 standard are Skills For Justice (SFJ).  We continue to follow this closely and ensure that our curriculum remains aligned. Following enrolment onto the scheme, Knowledgepool will enrol each learner for their EPA.  By enrolling on the Capita apprenticeship scheme, FRS will have access to a discounted rate for the EPA, which is already included as part of the overall scheme cost. 

FSC are currently exploring the possibility of obtaining EPA status as an alternative to SFJ for FRS who are delivering their own apprenticeship schemes.

18. How can I procure / purchase this scheme?

The scheme is registered with the YPO framework of apprenticeship providers.  Therefore, the scheme can be purchase using this framework, removing the need to get to tender.

19. Can I access my apprentices’ learning records?

The learning of the apprentice will be captured via Knowledgepool’s Tessello LMS (see para 14).  At the end of the course, all learning records can be downloaded into a document for FRS records.  FRS can use their own LMS or tracking system to track their apprentices’ learning in parallel to Tessello, should they so-wish.

20. Does the Talent Coach replace our own Line Managers and Mentors?

No.  Each learner will be supported throughout their learning journey by a talent coach, who will be a qualified assessor and experienced firefighter, instructor and mentor.  The purpose of the talent coach is not to replace or replicate the mentoring support that learners are given by their own FRS managers, but to supplement and support the process.  The key role of the talent coach will be to ensure that the formal requirement of the apprenticeship scheme is met, that learners evidence their learning in a satisfactory manner and that they make sufficient progress to meet the standard of the EPA which will be delivered at the end of the course.  In addition, talent coaches will advise FRS on how to make use of current best practice andragogical principles in teaching and learning design.  Detail on the Talent Coach model is at Annex C.

21. Does Capita provide laptops or table computers for learners?

During their time at FSC learners will have access to desktop computers within the computer suite.  However, each learner will require access to their own laptop or tablet computer for the full duration of the course in order to access their own personal Tessello account. 

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