Evaluating the Success of Apprenticeships Using the Kirkpatrick Framework

Evaluating the Success of Apprenticeships Using the Kirkpatrick Framework

Assessing the effectiveness of apprenticeship schemes is essential for all parties involved: the apprentices, their employers, and the education providers responsible for the training. The Kirkpatrick Model, a comprehensive four-level system for evaluating training programmes, offers a robust framework for understanding the impact of these schemes.

A Detailed Overview of the Kirkpatrick Framework

Professor Donald Kirkpatrick first developed the Kirkpatrick Model in the 1950s, and has since become a cornerstone in training evaluation. In 2016, James and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick updated it and rebranded it as the ‘New World Kirkpatrick Model’. This updated version maintains the core principles of the original model while incorporating contemporary insights and approaches.

The Kirkpatrick Framework Explained

The Kirkpatrick Model is segmented into four levels: Reaction, Learning, Behaviour, and Results. Each level offers an increasingly detailed evaluation of the efficacy of a training programme.

Level 1: Participant Feedback

The first level seeks to understand the apprentice’s emotional response to the training. It’s imperative to monitor their engagement and contributions to understand their reactions. This initial feedback can offer valuable insights into areas for improvement in future apprenticeship schemes.

Key questions at this stage might include:

– Did you find the training beneficial?– Can you identify strong and weak aspects of the training?– Were the training activities compelling?

Information at this stage can be collected via questionnaires, first-hand observations, or direct feedback.

Level 2: Knowledge Gained

At this level, the focus is on assessing what the apprentice has learned. Before starting the training, initial assessments of the apprentice’s skill set, knowledge base, and attitudes should be conducted. Post-training assessments can include interviews or written evaluations to measure what has been learned.

Level 3: Behavioural Changes

This tier examines how effectively apprentices are applying what they’ve acquired. It’s important to recognise that changes in behaviour are often subject to other influences, such as organisational culture. Monitoring these changes involves observing the apprentices and assessing their ability to share their newly gained skills and insights.

Level 4: Final Outcomes

The ultimate level assesses the results that benefit both the company and the apprentices. The aim is to determine if a strong return on investment (ROI) exists. Some trainers apply the Kirkpatrick Model in reverse, identifying desired outcomes before developing the training to achieve those objectives.

Aligning with the OfSTED Education Inspection Framework

For organisations delivering apprenticeships, aligning with the OfSTED Education Inspection Framework is a pivotal aspect of maintaining and enhancing the quality of their programmes. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OfSTED) in the UK inspects and regulates services for children and young people and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages.

Understanding the OfSTED Education Inspection Framework

The OfSTED Education Inspection Framework (EIF) sets out the standards by which educational institutions, including apprenticeship providers, are evaluated. The framework focuses on four key areas:

  1. Quality of Education: This assesses the curriculum’s intent, implementation, and impact. It looks at how well the curriculum is planned and delivered and how effectively it enables learners to develop knowledge, skills, and behaviours.
  2. Behaviour and Attitudes: This area evaluates the learners’ attitudes towards their education, including behaviour, attendance, and attitudes to learning.
  3. Personal Development: This focuses on the broader development of learners, including their spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development.
  4. Leadership and Management: This examines how well leaders and managers ensure high standards of education and training, support staff, and create a positive environment for learning.

Integrating the Kirkpatrick Model with OfSTED’s EIF

Using the Kirkpatrick Model to evaluate apprenticeship schemes provides a structured approach that aligns with the OfSTED EIF. Here’s how each level of the Kirkpatrick Model can correspond to the key areas of the OfSTED framework:


  • OfSTED EIF Alignment: This level assesses learners’ attitudes and engagement with the training. Positive reactions indicate a well-received programme, which aligns with the EIF’s focus on learner behaviour and attitudes.
  • Application: Gather feedback through surveys and informal discussions to understand how apprentices feel about the training and ensure it is engaging and meets their needs.


  • OfSTED EIF Alignment: This directly relates to the quality of education, specifically the impact of the curriculum. It measures the knowledge and skills acquired by apprentices.
  • Application: Measure learning outcomes using assessments, tests, and practical evaluations. Ensure that the training content is comprehensive and that apprentices effectively absorb the material.


  • OfSTED EIF Alignment: This level aligns with the quality of education and the personal development criteria. It evaluates how well apprentices apply their new skills and knowledge.
  • Application: Observe and assess apprentices in their work environment. Collect feedback from supervisors and peers to determine if apprentices effectively apply what they have learned.


  • OfSTED EIF Alignment: This level correlates with leadership and management and the overall quality of education. It looks at the broader impact of the training on organisational goals and outcomes.
  • Application: Measure key performance indicators such as productivity, quality of work, and overall organisational improvements. Demonstrate how the apprenticeship programme contributes to achieving business objectives and improving operational efficiency.

Benefits of Alignment

Aligning your apprenticeship programme with the OfSTED EIF using the Kirkpatrick Model offers several benefits:

  • Comprehensive Evaluation: It ensures a thorough evaluation of the apprenticeship scheme, covering all critical aspects from learner engagement to organisational outcomes.
  • Continuous Improvement: Training providers can continually improve the quality and effectiveness of their programmes by regularly assessing and aligning with OfSTED standards.
  • Regulatory Compliance: It helps apprenticeship providers meet OfSTED inspection criteria, ensuring compliance and potentially leading to higher inspection ratings.
  • Enhanced Reputation: Rigorous evaluation can demonstrate alignment with OfSTED standards, enhancing the training provider’s reputation and attracting more apprentices and employers.

In summary, integrating the Kirkpatrick Model with the OfSTED Education Inspection Framework enables apprenticeship providers to comprehensively evaluate and enhance their programmes, ensuring they meet high standards of quality and effectiveness.


Measuring apprenticeship effectiveness may appear overwhelming, but the Kirkpatrick Framework simplifies this task. It offers a complete picture of how an apprentice progresses, from initial reactions to the outcomes.

Pairing the Kirkpatrick Model with tools like learning maps and the OfSTED Education Inspection Framework ensures compliance with regulatory standards and optimises the educational journey for apprentices.

The ultimate aim of an apprenticeship scheme is not merely to provide theoretical knowledge but to equip apprentices with the necessary skills for their future careers. The true success of an apprenticeship scheme lies not just in its completion but in the contributions, development, and growth of the apprentices themselves.


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