Well-managed delivery of key skills. Learning activities and assessments help learners develop the key skills they need to achieve their modern apprenticeship frameworks. Learners receive good support as they carry out these activities, which are an integral part of their learning programmes. Key skills tests are well prepared for and administered.

How you can use this

Work-based learning providers could develop similar systems to train and assess learners' key skills. The basis of key skills teaching and assessing in this model are practical work-related projects that effectively motivate learners to develop their communication and numerical skills to the required standard. Training providers would need to develop similarly robust systems to evaluate and update the projects, support learners to provide additional evidence to demonstrate their skills and carry out rigorous assessments of learners. The way tests are arranged and taken puts less pressure on learners and employers.

How it works

NLTG have developed successful systems that help learners improve their key skills and gain the key skills qualifications required for their modern apprenticeships framework. All learners take information technology as an extra qualification, as it is not a framework requirement.

An initial presentation at induction effectively emphasises the importance of key skills for the learners. It shows them how a key skills project will relate to their overall training programme. Learners receive a copy of the presentation and project on disk, with useful hyperlinks that help learners see the relevance of the different sections of the project. NLTG's staff use appropriate assessments including key skills tests to identify learners' current levels of key skills and the support that they will need to improve their skills to the required standard.

NLTG's key skills project is well-designed and provides learners with relevant tasks to help them. The project consists of four tasks, such as developing a floor plan of their workplace, and collecting data, such as specific information on a selected product or hours worked by staff. The relevant sections of the document on the disk contain well-written and useful aims, objectives and instructions for each task.

Learners receive effective training in the computing skills they will require to transfer their data onto a computer using a specified template. They learn useful IT skills, such as developing formulas in spreadsheets and producing graphs, both manually and electronically.

Learners and assessors use the well-designed list of outcomes for each task to agree expected completion dates for each activity, enabling close monitoring of learners' progress. The lists of outcomes are linked to the required specifications for key skills. Each activity and task is numbered clearly, enabling learners and assessors to monitor targets set at progress reviews effectively. NLTG keep meticulous records of learners' work as they carry out each activity, including the extent to which they have met the overall aims and objectives of each task and how the activity has improved their own performance. Regular group tutorials support learners who need help to reach the required level of key skills.

NLTG systematically evaluate and update the key skills projects. The standing agenda item on key skills at staff meetings ensure that this evaluation takes place every two weeks. Staff are extremely knowledgeable and fully understand the requirements of the key skills standards and what the learners have to achieve to gain a certificate.

Learners benefit from additional good systems that help them gather a good range of evidence in their key skills assessment portfolios. NLTG has developed a comprehensive list of examples of additional evidence learners could use. Staff encourage learners to identify their own sources of evidence. Assessors use good assessment practices in checking the quality and validity of the learners' work in their portfolios.

Key skills tests are well administered and most are carried out in the workplace. Learners either attend a nominated site or the NLTG head office. Assessors visit up to five workplaces in one test day to invigilate and ensure that tests are carried out correctly. NLTG have had special dispensation to split packs of exam papers and re-seal them for each site across their workplaces. Assessors arrange travel for learners by taking them to the specific sites. NLTG try to get learners to carry out a different test during each set of test dates. This is so that learners do not have to carry out tests on three consecutive days. Learners are not placed under as much pressure, employers are happier about releasing their learners and there are higher pass rates.

Employers are fully aware of key skills and understand their relevance. Many employers have benefited from using the information learners have gathered (on staff hours, sales of products and stock levels) while carrying out their key skills project.