Selection criteria for applicants for NA Apprenticeships

Discussing the entry criteria for applicants

I had an interesting discussion with an HEI provider of the Nursing Associate Apprenticeship yesterday about the entry criteria for applicants. The HEI Level descriptors describe the challenge of higher level study in behavioural as well as academic terms and are a necessary tool as an assessment of potential as well as for our supervisors/mentors in making judgements about the skills and knowledge they “sign off” in the workplace. Many of you will be familiar with these. (download a copy at

I am concerned that some HEIs are going to exclude applicants by imposing a narrow initial assessment of the applicant’s current academic level rather than their overall potential to achieve the level 5 over the subsequent apprenticeship. A Higher level Apprenticeship is not just a university qualification – it is development for a role, with experiential learning and the employer will need to develop their own person specification and agree joint approaches with HEIs.

The level at which applicants will be applying for the NA Apprenticeship is probably around level 3 – any initial assessment of them should therefore look for them to be at this level on entry with the potential to develop and achieve level 5 – no one will arrive as a ready made level 5 person – what would be the point of them studying at that level if they were already at it! It is the HEI teaching and employer support with the vocational on programme learning that will develop the level 3 person to the level 5 person. That is what the apprenticeship is for.

The initial assessment is to measure potential and this includes much more than knowledge and skills. There are descriptors about behaviours, attitudes and responsibilities – all equally as important as being able to write an essay.

The assessors/markers and mentor supervisors will find the level descriptors at level 5 helpful (indeed crucial) to enable them to judge when the behavioural standards of performance have been met – not just what is done but the way in which it is approached and carried out. Is your HEI including the use of these in their Practice assessment documentation?

Interesting times!


Written by

Sally Garbett


6, September 2018


About the Author

Sally Garbett

Sally Garbett

Education and Apprenticeship associate, St Christopher's Hospice

Sally Garbett is the Apprenticeship lead and Vocational Programmes Manager at St Christopher’s where her role is to manage and develop apprenticeships and the vocational education and qualifications offered to external and internal staff. Sally has been involved in Apprenticeships since 1995 and most recently in the development of the healthcare standards, including the Nursing Associate role. Prior to working for St Christopher’s Sally was a freelance consultant and has over twenty five years' experience in qualification development, regulatory activities and delivery. She is also a licensed and qualified user of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to develop teams and individuals.

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