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Outdoor Trailblazer Apprenticeships

Creating new opportunities for the outdoor sector

Outdoor Trailblazer Apprenticeships


The Department of Business Industry and Skills (BIS) granted employers permission to create a new Employer Led Trailblazer Apprenticeship for the outdoor sector. The group of 49 employers representing a range and variety of businesses and products prevalent in the sector were led by Employer Chair Mark Lavington (PGL) supported with guidance and project management from Neal Anderson (IOL).

The NEW Outdoor Activity Instructor Apprenticeship focuses on training individuals who are new to the sector to run safe and enjoyable activity sessions with children and adults. The standard is at Level 3, lasts 12-18 months, and attracts up to £6000 of funding towards off-the-job training and end-point assessment per apprentice.

Built over the last 2 years by a wide range of outdoor employers, the result is a fit-for-purpose funded training route for entry level roles across the breadth of outdoor instructional work in England. The group of 49 employers represented a range and variety of businesses and products prevalent in the sector and were led by Employer Chair Mark Lavington (PGL) with guidance and project management from Neal Anderson (IOL).

A number of employers have expressed a desire for further Outdoor Apprenticeships appropriate for more complex roles. The first of these is – at either lever 4 or 5 - is for an Outdoor Programme Leader (working title).

This IOL page is for the Employer-Led group to share key details and development papers.


Outdoor Activity Instructor Apprenticeship

View the Outdoor Activity Instructor Apprenticeship Standard and Assessment Plan

Hire an apprentice: Get tailored advice from the National Apprenticeship Service

Guidance: Employer guide to apprenticeships

Become an apprenticeship training provider

Register of end point assessment organisations


Proposed Apprenticeship - Outdoor Programme Leader (working title)

Employers and IOL are now biding to Government to create further Trailblazer Apprenticeships appropriate for more complex roles. The first of these is for an Outdoor Programme Leader (working title).

An Outdoor Programme Leader plans and leads developmental experiences in the outdoors with individuals or groups. They organise and deliver a sequence of learning sessions using adventure sports, outdoor skills and challenges, field studies, and environmental appreciation activities.
Their main responsibility is to use autonomy and judgement to deliver a planned programme that meets the agreed requirements of the customer, the needs of participants and applies good-practice when adapting to the demands of a changeable and uncertain environment. They will be able to direct and support colleagues in delivering programmes.


Create the programme – Identify the customer needs, match the desired outcomes with their employers approach and resources. Plan staff and logistics.
Deliver the programme – Choose and deliver a sequence of safe activity sessions, assess risks, manage exposure to physical and emotional hazards, make autonomous judgements informed by good practice. Direct and support colleagues. Take responsibility for participants welfare overnight.
Meet programme outcomes – Teach skills and knowledge, facilitate development, assess learning, assist participants to review own progress. Adapt leadership to meet different individual needs. Coach participants to achieve desired outcomes, transfer learning to future contexts.>
Close the programme – Evaluate effectiveness of the programme, suggests improvements, create reports.

Download the Outdoor Trailblazer Apprenticeships Compared document.


Join The Employer Consultation Group

If you would like to be kept informed of progress in developing this new standard and can offer comment or input as we progress please join the employer consultation group. To ADD, CHANGE OR REMOVE your name from the group please email Louise at IOL

Fund the Development and Promotion of This Apprenticeship

Following discussions with the Institute for Apprenticeships, the initial proposal has been accepted and employers are seeking funding for the development and promotion of this next apprenticeship. Development for the Outdoor Activity Instructor Apprenticeship involved employers donating time and expertise (Working Group members, 8 days each; Trailblazer Chair, 50 days; IOL support, 20 days), plus Project Management (approx £30,000) and Consultancy (£8,500) offset by financial contributions (total £9,500) from AHOEC, Inspiring Learning and PGL.

The funding model and approach for the outdoor activity instructor apprenticeship is not sustainable for future apprenticeships (particularly by IOL and PGL). The funding rate for the Outdoor Activity Instructor standard is set at £6000/apprentice and many employers and training organisations are set to benefit from this input without having directly contributed financially to the development and promotion costs.

Employers have identified a total funding pot of approximately £28,000 to get the Outdoor Programme Leader Apprenticeship project completed. The Employers Group (and IOL) cannot commence the project in earnest until they are confident of having sufficient funds to complete it. To complete in time for the 2020 operating season requires a project start in April 2019.

A crowdfunding approach is being taken by employers in order to get the project underway.

Employers, education/training organisations and other interested parties are asked to contribute. All contributions are welcome, and all contributors will be named as contributing supporters. The initial funding deadline is Tuesday the 30th of April..

The Institute for Outdoor Learning will hold the funds on behalf of the employer group. Once the project starts payments from this account to IOL for services will be managed by the Project Chair with oversight/reporting to the Working Group. To make your contribution contact Louise Kier who will arrange an invoice for payment.


New Apprenticeship Project Funding Request

Support for the Proposed Apprenticeship

The following organisations have agreed to sponsor the project:
IOL (Neal Anderson), PGL (Mark Lavington), Heatree Activity Centre (Roger Hopper), Outward Bound (Will Ripley/Marc Oakley), Lindley Educational Trust (Andy Robinson/Mark Williams), Field Studies Council (Samantha Rudd), Inspiring Learning (Steve Randles), Peak District National Park (Sarah Wilkes), YHA (Anita Kerwin-Nye), Shuttleworth College (Dan Playford)

Financial contributions totalling £14,500 are already pledged from: Outward Bound, Field Studies Council, YHA, Peak District National Park, Lindley Educational Trust, Inspiring Learning and The Scout Association


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship between IOL and the Employer Led Apprenticeship?

IOL as the professional body in the sector are working in partnership the employer led initiative. The Employer Group has asked Neal Anderson from IOL to take a project management role in helping that group consult and produce its standards, assessment thinking and governance thoughts for submission to BIS. The Institute will use the apprenticeship standards developed by employers to inform an update and revision of some of our professional standards.

Find out more about the IOL Professional Standards Update

How can I get involved in the Employer Led Apprenticeship Development?

If you are an employer and would like further information or to chat about the opportunity to get involved please contact:

Mark Lavington
Employer Led Trailblazer Chair
PGL. Manager – HR External Partnerships.
Mobile: 07977 987712
Office switchboard: 0333 321 2100 - Email.

How can I get involved in the IOL Professional Standards Development?

You can follow progress on the IOL website or get in touch with Neal directly to discuss your thoughts and comments:

Neal Anderson
IOL Professional Standards Manager
Mobile: 07899 856518 - Email.


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+44 (0)1228 564580



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