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Kaplan AAT PassPlus wins 2014 PQ award for innovation in accountancy

Student on a laptop

In September 2013, Kaplan Financial launched the new AAT PassPlus courses, a revolutionary new classroom and Live Online learning experience.

This is a fundamentally different approach to teaching the AAT qualification that focuses not only on how students can pass their exams, but just as importantly, how the training relates back to the workplace and real life. This will give Kaplan students the edge over others as they will be more employable as they progress through the levels.

As part of the new course program, students have access to real life case studies that bring the units to life and have been compiled by product experts that have worked in industry. And because everyone learns at a different pace, the course has been designed so that tutors can set different levels of questions depending on individual abilities. That way the experience can be optimised for everyone to get the most out of their studies.

Since launch the new training program has already improved pass rates by up to 5% which is an excellent achievement in 4 months. These results have been backed up by the course winning the 2014 PQ award for innovation in accountancy.

This is the second year running that Kaplan have won the award for innovation in accountancy. In 2013 Kaplan won the prize for its free directory of accountancy terms, Kaplan Knowledge Bank.

In what way is this product different?

Historically an educator's role has been to get students through their exams, and the importance of this cannot be understated. At the end of the day, a student needs to pass their exams in order to obtain their qualification.

But what if a student is unable to relate the knowledge they acquire in order to pass their exam to their day-to-day work? Being able to apply their knowledge in this way is key to meeting employers' and clients' expectations of a tuition provider – if a trainee can't do this, it is debatable whether the qualification was worth the effort.

Based around a set of core principles of a more personalised experience, delivered in an innovative, collaborative and motivating environment, this product goes beyond just simply teaching a student to pass an exam. At Kaplan, we believe our students and clients deserve more; we want to create great accountants that can perform well in the workplace as well as in the exam room.

To deliver on our belief, this product drives a deeper level of understanding to ensure that students can apply their knowledge to everyday workplace situations and develop key employability skills such as communication and team work as a part of their course.

The good news is that in addition to becoming more employable, a deeper understanding will also lead to an increased chance of exam success as it enables students to better adapt to the scenarios presented in the exam. One of the dangers of surface level learning is the limited range of situations in which that knowledge can be demonstrated. By more fully understanding the subject matter, students are able to flex their knowledge, working through the implications of different factors in order to deduce the correct answer. They are better able to cope with a slight variation in exam style or a 'curve ball' question.

How do we develop a deeper understanding?

The AAT PassPlus product encourages deeper understanding in a number of innovative ways, some examples of which are:

Case studies

Case studies are embedded as a part of the course to show how knowledge can be used in real life. By providing context, students are better able to appreciate why a process is needed or how a piece of information could be used. Case studies also allow students to see how different parts of a syllabus fit together so they can see the bigger picture.

Flipped classroom

In a traditional classroom, the tutor conveys knowledge to students, the students may make some notes and together they may work through some brief examples. For homework, the student is often set some longer questions for them to practise applying their knowledge. The big problem with this scenario is that the tutor might never get to find out how well a student has taken to a subject and whether they have gained the knowledge they need.

In an AAT PassPlus classroom, the homework is performed up-front when the student acquires some of the basic knowledge via text books or some form of on-line learning. Then, in the classroom, the tutor works to embed that knowledge and sets questions allowing them to assess how well each student is getting on. Questions of varying difficulty are given to students based on their rate of progress. This ability to differentiate the experience for each student allows us to better support each student individually to ensure they have the understanding they require.

How do we make Kaplan students more employable?

Being able to apply the knowledge gained from studying is one aspect of building a successful career. The other is having the necessary softer skills to operate in a professional environment.

The so-called 'employability gap' is a hot topic for educators and employers alike. Employers are more frequently claiming that newly employed graduates or apprentices do not have the necessary basic skills or experience to be able to work effectively. Understandably, employers are demanding more from tuition providers.

When deciding how best to satisfy this demand, our starting point was to figure out exactly what skills the employers were looking for within their AAT students. Working closely with clients, we've been able to create a list of 20 key 'employability skills' as below:

  • Assertiveness and presenting yourself
  • Commercial awareness
  • Communication with technology
  • Critical thinking/scepticism
  • Study skills, learning plan, evaluating your own performance
  • Decision making
  • H&S
  • Lateral/creative thinking/intellectual curiosity
  • People management
  • Meetings
  • Personal finance
  • Presentation skills
  • Problem solving
  • Self management/taking ownership/independent
  • Team work
  • Time management
  • Verbal communication
  • Prepare and plan a project
  • Analyse, interpret and evaluate
  • Written communication

Kaplan have combined this understanding of exactly what skills employers are looking for at each level, together with an innovative yet effective approach to education, to allow students to gain much more than a qualification as they study. For example, the inclusion of group activities and collaborative work, not only allows students to more effectively gain knowledge, they also develop skills such as communication and teamwork.

What our students say

"Really enjoying the new AAT methods."
Natalie, L2 LOL Student (started in March 2013, studying PBKT/BAII in February 2014)

"I liked the group work aspect of the course – it was good to participate with others on the same level and have a wider range of opinions and viewpoints."

"I liked having a day for planning, fieldwork, and completion and doing the work in that order as it better reflects actual auditing. Group work is good, particularly for judgemental subject like audit. the case study idea worked well."

"I really enjoyed the learning atmosphere."

"Love it! Teaching method was great and material was excellent."

"The course is very relevant which is pleasing as I can actually see practical application of the course."