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Exam results - what's going to cut it?

What academic standards should I look for in an apprentice?

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Okay, I'm not trying to be elitist here, so please don't take what I'm about to write in that manner.

I come from a fairly traditional ACA training route - A levels, decent uni, then ACA training.

I'm now considering taking on an apprentice - probably AAT, with one afternoon a week spent at the local further education college. The applicants for such apprentices are usually school leavers, with a wide range of exam subjects, and perhaps an average of a C grade in their GCSEs.

Now obviously exam grades aren't everything (or even the main thing) and I'm far more interested in enthusiasm, diligence and integrity.  However, they are part of what I have to look at.

From your experience, what's the minimum level academic standard you'd look for?  It's a tricky one. With someone even part-qualified I'd be more interested in their exam progression within the AAT, but I might not have the luxury of that information.

Thanks, as always, for your input.

WS

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
20th Feb 2018 18:28

I would probably be aiming for the applicants that have A levels (or Scottish Highers/ Advance Highers up here), not sure CGSE alone would be enough if they are anything like our Standard grades/Nat 4s /Int 2s or whatever they are calling them this week.

What do you intend to do with said apprentice once they have acquired your sorcery skills, do you see them carrying on studying, moving from you or remaining with you doing the same work to eternity, the answer might colour my thought process?

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Replying to DJKL:
Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
21st Feb 2018 12:06

LOL. I am just trying to get my head around all this at the moment. I feel like I am studying it at the moment. My son's school as sent a 50-page booklet all about Nat 4 and Nat 5 for us to read.

So at 15 in Scotland, you do your Nat 4 or Nat 5 depending on how good you are. I can only go on my son's standard at 14 but he is pretty good at maths and would be capable of most, not all accountancy calculations.

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Replying to sarah douglas:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
21st Feb 2018 12:51

I thought they were more 15 or 16, at end fourth year, but I could well be wrong, re these sorts of things I usually am.?

I no longer have to worry about the wonderful perms re our exams as mine are now both out of university, concerns re their careers, where they live, their relationships etc etc now predominate.

Even when they were at school I had my other half (she works in an Edinburgh school-admin) to guide me, I pretty much got to the understanding that Int2 was in most cases roughly equal or slightly better (depending on subject) to Standard Grade Credit, Int 1 in fourth year was useful as a stepping stone to Int 2 in fifth and then the Higher in sixth for those on a slower path, and they have now thrown it all up in the air again like the pick up sticks game so nobody has a clue what is what.

If one was of a cynical mind one could see a ulterior motive at work here; get parents all confused re the exams/ structures/ pathways and they will stop asking awkward questions about the standards being applied, attainment reached, can offspring count above ten without taking of socks etc..

Glad to hear your son is good at maths but how is he at arithmetic (especially without a calculator), what about estimating/ fractions/percentages. My two both sat AH Maths and frankly if your asked them what 13x12 was they would be very hesitant.

In our household at mental arithmetic my wife is the fastest (She struggled with higher Maths at school though passed at second attempt) I am next (A poor student up to first year University Maths level- used to be good at arithmetic but brain cells are departing these days slowing the processes) and our kids come a poor third and fourth, despite my son fairly recently doing some Maths as part of his Comp Sci degree and my daughter doing some Quant /stats work/economics as part of hers.

The downhill step re arithmetic happened when we stopped having a distinct O' grade in Arithmetic and started having just O'grade Maths, a very poor decision imho.

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By ATTServices
20th Feb 2018 18:48

I know of firms who are taking on apprentice ACA students at 18 years old who hold strong A-levels, usually with one or two in the following maths/business/accounting (Grades: AAB/ABB)

If you want to give a school leaver a chance with GCSEs, I'd be looking for strong academic results in Maths and a mix of Bs/Cs in their other subjects. Everything can be taught/picked up on the job but numerical skills is quintessential for early development and success.

As an AAT teacher, I would also suggest contacting the local college who provide AAT courses to enquire if they have any suitable candidates who are currently studying AAT. You sometimes come across students studying for a business BTEC (or A-level) while completing level 3 AAT concurrently.

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Replying to ATTServices:
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By wilcoskip
20th Feb 2018 20:30

Thanks. Another option I'd considered was an A-level student who wanted to work through ACCA. The main benefit of AAT initially would be the nearby college which draws a healthy pool of applicants.

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By 1 2
21st Feb 2018 11:44

We say minimum B in Maths/English language.

You don't need to be amazing at either to be accountant, but you need to be reasonably good with numbers and able to communicate professionally with clients (once you're happy they're ready to). Spelling and grammar perhaps shouldn't be important to an accountant, but often clients will think if your emails are full of errors, the accounts you produce probably are too.

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Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
21st Feb 2018 12:23

I once worked with a young girl who had A in Higher Grades in Scotland and continued Maths in University.

She was a very cocky graduate. However, the staff complained about her workings quite a lot because they kept having to fix her calculations.

I am going back to 1996, and I am no genius, so I tested her out as I was the manager of the accounts department at the time in the meat industry. She had worked out that a single Lambchop would cost about £750.

I kept asking her, do you see anything wrong with your answers. I told her the clue is the price what do you think customers would pay. Vacant look and took a flakey.

She did not last much longer. She left the office telling everyone she was brighter than us all. That was after her Dad visited the office and became very abusive to tell me how bright she was and how I had not gone to UNI.

Well, I least I knew that was a very expensive Lambchop.

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Replying to sarah douglas:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
21st Feb 2018 12:53

Thank goodness the customer had not ordered a rack.

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By FCExtraordinaire
22nd Feb 2018 11:09

I have done AAT recruitment for companies under the apprenticeship scheme. I would say Maths and English GCSE are essential, other subjects do not matter so much as long as they have a handful of passes.
Enthusiasm is the major factor as is the dedication to be able to study even more.

At AAT level 2 you would assume they are interested in the job and want to learn more , so find out if they have first time passes or struggling with it. Many give up at Level 3 it seems.

A Level passes - again, as long as they have the GCSE English and Maths as , unless they took accountancy, its largely irrelevant to a career in numbers.

Your local apprenticeship organisation should be able to assist you with finding a suitable person and assist you through the process, therefore not leaving you to it alone.

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