A collaboration between
British Culinary Federation
Culinary Association Wales
Federation of Chefs Scotland

The BTEC Apprenticeship in Craft Cuisine

The AAA National Committee, in collaboration with Pearson Work Based Learning and People 1st, are pleased to announce that the new BTEC Apprenticeship in Craft Cuisine incorporating the Applied Ability Awards has now been fully approved and accredited and is available for funding in both England and Wales.

1 - Background to the AAA

The aim of the Applied Ability Awards has been for the profession itself to establish and maintain common and consistent standards by which craft skills in the workplace can be developed and measured.

To that end the AAA National Committee was formed to oversee the Awards' management and delivery and consists of representatives from the main chefs' bodies in England, Wales and Scotland. The Committee's initial tasks were to define what needed to be learned in order to achieve the standard expected and, secondly, to construct the process to ensure the standard was met; in other words, to set the syllabus and to examine against that syllabus.

Furthermore, it was considered essential that any examination should be kept separate from the training received; in other words, that the trainer should have no responsibility for any final assessment. Examinations should, however, be conducted by senior, working chefs as approved by the Committee, with the emphasis on the application of practical skills and the candidate's aptitude as gauged through interview.

It is esssential that each  learner has  the support of an in-house chef mentor

2 - Added Benefits from the AAA Apprenticeship

2.1 Support for Chef Mentors - the role of the in-house chef mentor the role has too often been unfulfilled in practice; enthusiastic candidates have been in greater supply than accomplished mentors. Time and talent have been the obstacles: insufficient time to plan and deliver a proper training programme, sometimes compounded by lack of craft and/or communication skills.

Some 20 years on from the demise of the last uniform standard, the 706 qualifications, it is small wonder that senior chefs today have often risen despite rather than because of their craft skills. Today craft-led cookery - the ability to cook from scratch using fresh ingredients - may be deemed a specialism. But this is all the more reason to ensure that core skills are to the next generation, particularly with the increasing public regard this 'specialism' enjoys, from fine dining to the gastro pub.

To help preserve and extend those skills the BTEC Apprenticeship in Craft Cuisine is structured to allow employers and their senior chefs to appoint approved learning providers to support their in-house mentors - both external provider and in-house mentor will be responsible for raising the Candidate to the exam-ready standard. The learning provider will:
1) in consultation with mentor and learner, devise the appropriate training programme to meet the standards expressed in the BTEC Apprenticeship in Craft Cuisine,
2) undertake agreed elements of the practical training,
3) arrange other inputs, for example from local suppliers or chefs outside the workplace,
4) conduct a formal assessment on each of the skill areas required in order to ensure the learner is exam-ready across the syllabus.

Meanwhile the chef mentor will:
1) provide general support for the candidate over the training period,
2) where possible cover aspects of the syllabus in day-to-day work,
3) undertake specific elements of the training as agreed at the outset.

The AAA Apprenticeship contains training programmes applicable to both AAA Foundation Chef and AAA Chef candidates. The syllabuses for both levels have been mapped to National Occupational Standards, with AAA Foundation Chef deemed a Level 2 qualification and AAA Chef at Level 3.

2.2 - Further Accreditation: the AAA Apprenticeship consists of a practical (or competency) qualification entitled the Diploma in Craft Cuisine, for which the AAA exam is the final assessment. In addition to the Applied Ability Award, those passing the exam will also gain the Diploma, awarded by Edexcel, part of Pearson. There is also a knowledge qualification carrying a further Edexcel certificate, plus certificates for the other components of an Apprenticeship. Once all components are achieved the Apprenticeship is endorsed by the industry's Sector Skills Council, People 1st.

2.3 - Funding Support: Craft Cuisine qualifications are eligible for public funding in England and Wales. The relevant Apprenticeship Framework for England (FRO2575) was issued in January 2014 and can be viewed here; the Framework for Wales can be viewed here.

3 - The Apprenticeship in Detail

3.1 - The Apprenticeship in Craft Cuisine is one of the 'BTEC Apprenticeships' available through Pearson Work Based Learning, click here for a headline introduction.

3.2 - And follow this link for a swift overview of the Apprenticeship and its component parts.

3.3 - As you will see the competency qualification within the Apprenticeship is entitled the Diploma in Craft Cuisine, which is available at either at Level 2 or Level 3. Click here for a detailed breakdown of the training required in England and Wales.

3.4 - Anyone familiar with the current Level 2 or Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Professional Cookery will recognise the learning units involved. However there are two, major, distinguishing features as regards the Diploma in Craft Cuisine.

Firstly, the training is comprehensive across the range of core skills. Hence there are no optional skill areas and all units specified are mandatory. Thus the estimated 'guided learning hours', to use a standard measure, has more than doubled.

Secondly, whilst the learning provider will assess each unit as a credit towards the Diploma, the summative assessment must be mounted independently of the learning provider and this can take the form of the AAA exam, funded via the Apprenticeship to provide the ultimate endorsement from the profession itself.

3.5 - The full specification for Level 2 and Level 3 of the Apprenticeship can be found under 'Craft Cuisine' on the Pearson Work Based Learning website.

4 - Note to Employers and to Head Chefs

If your company is not itself an approved learning provider but you wish to run the Apprenticeship in-house then you will need to contact an approved provider offering hospitality and catering qualifications in your vicinity; to establish whether there is a suitable learning provider in your vicinity please contact Jill Matthews at the British Food Trust - contact details are given at the foot of these notes.

5 - Note to Learning Providers


To offer any Edexcel qualification including this BTEC Apprenticeship, you will first need to obtain centre approval and then qualification approval.

  • If you are a private training provider, an employer or a private college, simply complete a ‘Register Your Interest’ form to start the process of becoming a recognised Edexcel centre. A member of the Pearson Work Based Learning team will then contact you to discuss becoming an approved centre.
  • If you already offer other Edexcel qualifications, and wish to start offering BTEC, please contact your Work Based Learning Account Manager or call us on 0844 576 0045. If you're a school or college, please contact us on 0844 463 2535. We will answer any questions you may have about the process and supply you with the centre and qualification approval form. 
  • If you are already an approved BTEC centre wishing to offer the BTEC Apprenticeship in Craft Cuisine, please use the approval facility on Edexcel Online. If you don't meet the online approval requirements, you will need to complete the qualification approval form below and send it in to your Account Manager.


As explained under 'Information for Approved Centres', once approved to provide this qualification centres should then register their learners with Pearson Work Based Learning for the Apprenticeship as a whole and at the same time with the AAA office for the AAA exam:

  • Pearson Work Based Learning - click here to register a learner via Edexcel Online
  • AAA Office - click on the link to download the Registration & Skill Scan form for a learner taking the L2 Diploma towards the AAA Foundation Chef Exam; for those taking the Level 3 Diploma, a Registration and Skill Scan for the AAA Chef Exam is required.

    Note, before completing a 'Skill Scan' you will need to review either the AAA Foundation Chef Syllabus or the AAA Chef Syllabus.

6 - Footnote

AAA exams will continue to be available outside the Apprenticeship. The steps required plus FAQs on the AAA (or Triple A) are set out on the Introduction page to this website.

For further information contact: Jill Matthews at the British Food Trust - email: