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For school leavers, considering an AAT apprenticeship

Woman studying with piles of books either side of her

During this uncertain period, while awaiting your final GCSE/A-Level results, you may find yourself weighing up your options.

An Apprenticeship can be a great learning opportunity for those who prefer to work in a more hands-on environment. It allows you to gain a professional qualification while putting those skills into practice.

You would go straight into a supportive and professional working environment, whilst studying and being a part of the Kaplan student community. This should enable you to hit the ground running, gain real confidence, and earn whilst you learn.

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) is an ideal qualification to consider, if you have recently left school and are interested in a career in accountancy and finance.

The AAT is designed for entry-level candidates to learn the principles of Accountancy in a digestible manner. You would learn in bite-sized units and complete computer based exams. Alongside gaining your AAT technical qualification you’d gain key Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours that build a foundation for your new career in accountancy.

The AAT qualification consists of three levels:

  • Foundation
  • Advanced
  • Professional

Apprentices can start the qualification at the Foundation Level or The Advanced Level.

Each level concludes with a Synoptic Assessment, similar to an end of year or final exam. It is ideally sat after you have completed all of the learning units within that level.

The Synoptic Assessments are important and can include some learning from previous units or levels, ensuring you are carrying forward your learning and not forgetting it as soon as you pass! They will also test you in other key areas such as Professional Ethics.

Foundation Certificate in Accounting (AAT Level 2)

The AAT Foundation Level takes apprentices through basic Accounting Principles & Processes.

You would typically start with:

  • Bookkeeping Transactions and Bookkeeping Controls

    Here you would learn to understand basic financial transactions within bookkeeping systems, gain knowledge of dealing with supplier, business and customer accounts and how to deal with payment methods appropriately.

    You’d acquire the knowledge needed from your course at Kaplan, but this should be complemented with what you do within your day to day role and the support you have with colleagues.

You will then go on to study (in no particular order):

  • Understanding Accounting Software (UACS)

    This unit is particularly useful to complete as it teaches you how to use an Accounting System (Xero) - which you may have never seen before. It guides you through how to use this correctly, which is fundamental for working accurately in Accountancy.

    You would also learn the process of sales and purchase transactions, bank and cash transactions, and how to perform period end routine tasks.


  • Elements of Costing (ELCO)

    This unit will teach you to understand the cost recording system within an organisation, recording techniques and how to provide information on actual and budgeted costs.


  • FYSA

    The synoptic assessment at this level includes understanding and developing personal skills to work effectively in a business environment. It also includes corporate social responsibility, ethics, and sustainability. This would all be supported by your employer within your apprenticeship and throughout your ‘Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours’.

Advanced Diploma in Accounting (AAT Level 3)

Apprentices can start at the Advanced Level of the AAT. The Advanced Diploma builds on the knowledge gained in a Foundation Certificate. This is generally recommended to those who have studied Accountancy before, or have worked in the field.

If you’ve completed A-Levels in relevant areas such as Economics, Maths or Business and have achieved strong grades starting with Level 3, you maybe suitable. However some prior learning on essential Level 2 units must be completed, and the job role would have to fit the requirements of the Level 3 Standard.

The Advanced Level course breakdown is as follows:

  • Advanced Bookkeeping (Building on BTRN and BKCL exams sat at Level 2)
  • Final Accounts Preparation
  • Management Accounts: Costing (Building on UACs exam sat at Level 2)
  • Indirect Tax
  • Synoptic Assessment
  • End-Point Assessment

End Point Assessment

All Apprenticeship Standards now include an End-Point Assessment (EPA), which is taken at the end of your apprenticeship. The EPA is independently assessed, meaning an independent End-Point Assessment Organisation will award you your final grade and not your employer or training provider.

Whilst this can be daunting, it’s a fantastic opportunity for you to be recognised for your achievements within the role.

Throughout your apprenticeship programme you will develop a Portfolio and prepare for a Professional Discussion which will assess your understanding of key ‘Knowledge , Skills and Behaviours’. You will have developed these throughout your programme, from the Apprenticeship Standard.

We are here to help

If you are nearing the end of your studies and wish to discuss the AAT Foundation Certificate or your options further, please fill in our online form and a member of the recruitment team will be in touch to discuss your prospects. Further information can be obtained on our Apprenticeship Standard page.

This article was written by Olivia Buckley, Recruitment Coordinator at Kaplan.

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