SAPs are developed through partnerships with trade associations, federations and employers in specialist sectors. These apprentice programmes contain all the ingredients for a fully validated apprentice programme leading to a Vocational Qualification (NVQ/SVQ). These new entrant programmes are currently the only source of CITB grant recognised new entrant training for the sectors involved. New entrants must have a full-time contract of direct employment with a levy registered employer.

Grant support is paid for SAPs which are now 18-month courses comprising a number of modules leading to the NVQ Level 2

The grant package comprises 3 elements:

£30, £70 or £120 for each training module achieved is paid to the CITB registered and in scope company automatically on confirmation of completion by the training provider. The total value of the modules – £750

£600 is paid to the company on completion of the NVQ assessment and certification

A contribution of £4,000 per learner to cover course costs is paid directly to the training provider OFTF who pay the tutors, assessors, verifiers, venues and materials and associated trainers.

Basic ground rules

  • The new entrant must have a full-time contract of direct employment with Levy registered employer
  • Grant not available to sub-contract labour (even if mentioned on Levy Return) or self-employed
  • The learner must not have been on another CITB grant assisted Apprenticeship at the same VQ level
  • Open to both trade association members and non-members
  • No upper age restriction – 16+ but employer preference tends to be 18+
  • The new entrant must attend all off job modules for the employer to qualify for the ‘framework achievement’ element of the grant
  • Must apply for and obtain a CSCS Trainee Card during the first month of training
  • The employer must provide on job supervised training to at least twice the number of off-job days – to be recorded in the learner’s logbook.

Who can be a SAP level 2 SAP learner?

  • New entrant to the sector (might already have a VQ in another suite of occupations but have not been on a grant-aided Apprenticeship before
    – i.e. career changer). Consider SUP first if available for the occupation
  • New entrant – possibly employed for up to 12 months in the sector but has had no formal training and has not been registered  for an NVQ in the occupation
  • New entrant – someone moving either from within the employer’s company or externally from a different post to become an operative. e.g. from store person to operative or a genuine upskilling/promotional route from labourer to skilled operative- career developer.


There is a cost to employers for both the training and assessment, payable to the partner training provider, OFTF

The cost of the 25 day SAP programme over 12 months of training and the 6-month assessment is £5,000. CITB make a contribution of £4,000 to the training provider and the remaining £1,000 will be invoiced by OFTF to the company.

OFTF will plan to deliver the programme in 5 one week training sessions. After the second OFTF will invoice the company for £500, then at the end of the 5th week, OFTF will invoice the final £500. This will be effectively covered by the CITB grant to the company which is £1,350 payable after completion of modules.

In the case of a CF member or company not registered with the CITB, the process of training and assessment is the same and the cost to the individual or company is £5,000 paid in £1k instalments. The first instalment will be due on registration and quarterly thereafter. Each year there are a number of CF members who choose this route successfully.

The Oak Frame Training Forum

OFTF Training Centre, Brickyardwood Barns, Chelvey, Near Bristol, BS48 4Ab


Training Officer – Nigel Howe 07899 794125


2019 Courses – We need your help!


We are planning our courses for 2019….

We’d love to get your opinion on what training courses you’d like to take part in next year.

We have a few ideas but would welcome your feedback on this. Please do email us on admin@oftf.org.uk to suggest any other courses you’d like to see us deliver next year. Thank you!

Suggestions so far are:
* Sash Window Course
* Staircase Design
* Complex Roofing
* Scale Drawing
* Telehandler
* Slinger/Signaller

COURSE INFORMATION: Special Applied Skills Programme Level 2 NVQ in Wood Occupations Post and Beam Carpentry

The next intake for Special Applied Skills Programme Level 2 NVQ in Wood Occupations Post and Beam Carpentry will be Monday 4 February 2019.

The training programme is a full NVQ qualification. It will be 25 days off-site training usually 5 x 1-week training sessions and then 6 months assessment, so you really need to be working in the industry to get the NVQ Level 2 assessment completed. To get the full funding you’ll need to be ‘in scope’ with the CITB – for more info drop us an email or contact the CITB.

The first week of training will start on Monday 4th Feb and finish on Friday 8 Feb 2019.
Please do contact us as soon as possible for more info. If you are not registered with CITB you can self-fund, please get in touch for info.


Complex Roofing Course Information (25th March-29th March 2019)

Advanced Roofing

COMPLEX ROOFING COURSE – Monday 25th March – Friday 29th March

Incorporating the geometry of a Rhineland Helmet & a Cruciform Kite-on-Plan roof. The course will combine the geometry & hopefully the manufacture of one or both of these structures.

Tutor: Alan Creasey MSc
Venue: 16 King St Bristol BS1 4EF
(There will be limited overnight, shared accommodation available on site. Apply early if required)

CITB funding available for registered companies. Please email admin@oftf.org.uk for more information and to book your place.

Learners should bring their own tools, PPE, log/trig tables or scientific calculators (or mobile phones!)

The centre provides timber, drawing instruments and paper/card.



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Friday 1st September – CPD event day. – Free to FRAME 2017 weekend ticket holders!

Registration is from 09:00, for a prompt start at 10:00 when the first lecture starts.  If you can’t stay for the whole weekend, you can buy Day tickets for this event only at the CFshop *You can buy weekend tickets here, too*

IMPORTANT – If you would like a meal on Thursday evening, this will cost £10, payable on the day. However, you MUST book your meal, at least 24 hours in advance, by emailing Tim Potts at TP@carpentersfellowship.co.uk to let him know.
The campsite will be open on Thursday 31st August

Ours is the first event to be held in the brand new state-of-the-art 120-seat lecture theatre at St Fagans, which should be a pleasure for presenters and delegates alike.

Timings and Lectures – for more information on the lectures you can have a look here.

Friday 1st September

Time What’s happening
09:00-10:00 Registration
10:00-11:00 Piers Taylor
11:00-11:15 Break
11:15-12:15 Fergus Feilden
12:15-14:00 LUNCH & Museum visit
14:00-15:00 Oakwrights Passive House
15:00-15:15 Break
15:15-16:30 Glazing Green Oak Frames

Saturday 2nd September

Saturday lectures
09:00-09:45 Robert Demaus – The Assessment and Repair of Historic Timber
11:15-12:00 Laurie Smith – Historic Geometrical Building Design in Wales
13:00-13:45 Hooke Park – Advanced Fabrication, Experimental Architecture.
15:00-15:45 Rick Collins – “The Most Famous Barn in America”

Sunday 3rd September

Sunday lectures
09:00-09:45 Grigg Mullen – From Timber Framing to Boat Building, an interesting transition….
11:15-12:00 David Young – The vernacular architect of Ethiopia

Carpenters Fellowship Special Project – Llys Llewellyn: A Royal Welsh Court for St Fagan’s Museum

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Background to the Project

Llys Llewellyn (welsh for Llewellyn’s Court) is intended to be a reconstruction of one of the five royal residences that were in use in Wales in the early part of the 13th Century. Sadly none of these buildings has survived. The Carpenters’ Fellowship UK, working alongside the archeology experts of the Museum have created a design for this timber and stone building based on evidence from contemporary surviving wooden halls.
The construction is to be undertaken by a core team of CF members but other CF participants will be given the opportunity to get involved at the stage immediately prior to the site erection of the building.
All participants in the course will have the opportunity to contribute to the fabric of this unique building which will be a spectacular living history resource for many generations to come.

Focus on: Ant Sawyer – Self Employed Carpenter


13575992_629634773870837_346143702949275731_oThis month we chatted to Ant Sawyer who is a former apprentice of OFTF about what he does now and what he hopes for the future – enjoy!

What does your role involve?

As well as subcontracting in the workshops and onsite for Carpenter Oak, Emmanuel Hendry and Oakleigh Design Build in Devon; I also design (site survey, draw on SketchUp) and build oak frames directly for clients. I also have a small peg making operation!

What do you like about your job?

I like the variation between office (drawing) workshop (when it’s raining) and site work (when it’s sunny!)

What’s your working day like?

8am-5pm Monday to Saturday – although being self-employed evenings and Sundays are often taken up with quoting for the next job or accounting etc. When on site, I am away from home during the week – which is probably one week every couple of months on average.

What skills do you need in your job?

To be a useful subcontractor you have to have qualifications and tickets that allow you to be on site. CSCS Health and Safety as a minimum, but tower scaffold, telehandler, MEWP and Slinger/Signaller are all useful/essential to remain employable!

Tools and experience build as you progress – so I’d say a positive, honest attitude and an ability to communicate are things you should bring to the table as an oak framer!

What was your background before starting this role?

During my 20’s I was an athlete with the British Athletics squad (Decathlon – Commonwealth Games 2002) and then the British Skeleton Team (World Ranking of 6th in 2007/8) I didn’t make the cut for the 2010 Winter Olympics so it was time for a career change!

I started carpentry with a course at The Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis, then an oak framing course at Woodenways, 2 years at Oakwrights, then completed my apprenticeship with several projects and tutors at The Oak Frame Training Forum in Bristol – which for me was a great experience, combining exposure to different techniques with great networking opportunities (i.e. beers round the fire!)

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’m glad I have a desire to learn, and a belief that you can make a happy career oak framing!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I’ll be 47!! Still in South Devon – in a home I’ve built – kids, veg patch, little boat – 3 day week working week!!!

A bit of advice for anyone thinking about a career in construction?

Be an intelligent craftsman – aspire to be at least!!


Focus on: Nigel Howe – Training Manager The Oak Frame Training Forum

In our regular series of interviews with members of The Carpenters Fellowship – we talk today to Nigel Howe. Nigel responsible for training the timber framers of the future. Phew. Not too much pressure then……

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How did you start your career in Timber Framing?

My father was part of a self-build project in the 1950s that built 50 homes, all 3 bed semi-detached with garages & long gardens. So I grew up among tradesmen who built their own homes, conservatories, sheds, greenhouses. Over the years I learnt how to dig foundations, lay bricks, measure, level, triangulate & work with timber. My school was a Secondary Technical School (boys) specialising in the Building Trades in Reading Berkshire. As part of the curriculum, we built extra workshops on the site & built an outdoor pursuits centre in the Wye Valley where we spent weeks at a time. There I developed my skills in Technical Drawing TD, & Woodwork. In particular. Part of the idea of the school was to train the architects & craftsmen, & the building inspectors for the area. The school was a tough mixture of Hells Angels, skin‘eds, swots & hippies with a mutual respect for our building skills & sporting prowess. There were 14 of us in the Berkshire U15 Rugby squad of 30.

I moved to Bristol, married Jackie & trained in to be a teacher. Wherever we have lived we have built, extended, repaired & maintained properties. We have taken on derelict & almost uninhabitable properties & raised our children amongst sawdust, lime mortars, linseed oil & the smell of log burners.

20 years ago I left mainstream teaching & helped set up the Forest of Avon Wood Products Cooperative along with Jim O’ & Rupert. I worked on the Leigh Woods Barn Project & a 3 bay open barn at Chelvey Court & decided to buy a Wood-Mizer mobile sawmill. I took on the lease for the redundant farm buildings at Chelvey & set up the Chelvey Designer Makers Cooperative of woodworkers. I worked with Henry Russell & Gudren Leitz, & met Charley Brentnall, on the Westonbirt Arboretum Great Oak Hall project. Every timber went across the Wood-Mizer & we did 12-hour shifts to keep ahead of the framers. This build was instrumental in the origins of the CF & we photograph our new SAP intake with John Russell’s model of the Great Oak Hall.

What is the biggest challenge within the Timber Framing world?

Timber framing is heavy demanding work & requires the rare ability of engaging brain, eyes & hands to work with a variety of tools in all weathers & ground conditions. We are all mad; some quietly behind the drawing board & others barking in the framing yard.

What is the most inspiring project you have worked on?

I have been fortunate to have worked on several inspiring projects which in their own ways have played a part in shaping me (mainly my hands, knees & back). The Chelvey Court barn shelter, Penny Brohn Cancer Care centre garden shelter, the OFTF buildings reflecting the training of the CF members. The one project that must rank as the greatest challenge in so many ways & therefore the most inspiring & depressing must be Timber House.

The transformation of a Grade II* Listed building that had been derelict for many years. 16 King St Bristol. A jetted 4 storey Jacobean merchant’s house built circa1663 in the period of the Restoration of the monarchy after the Civil War. So from Restoration 1660 to restoration 2014-17.

The building shows all the signs of wear & tear & changes over the centuries. When we took it on the previous leaseholders had done major repairs to the roof & cellar but ran out of steam. When we took it over there were a few original ceilings & floor joists but no floors. The work has been a combination of repairs & restoration alongside upgrading to comply with up-to-date standards of thermal & acoustic insulation & other building regs for fire & structural engineering requirements.

People who have worked on Timber House include: Jo, Sarah & Rob; Henry, Pete, Alan, Jeff, Marius, Finn, Sam, Mark, Will B, Ant, Will R, Tom C, Ollie, Tim H, Reza, Brendan, Tommy, Will, Finley, Graham & other helpers & support from Sheila, Amy, Freya & Heidi.

This has been a monumental task & has emphasised that balance & compromise that face us all when dealing with our heritage “What to leave in & what to remove?” Wherever possible we” leave in” to be rediscovered By future craftsmen & investigators. If we remove we are making a value judgement on what is worthy.

Now that the building regs have been signed off & it is being used Timber House has been given another chance to stand proudly in the historic heart of Bristol.


Where/what is your dream home and why

One in which I can sit down with a glass & a book!

One where the grandchildren can play among some of the Oak sawdust that I have brought in from the workshop. A home where Jackie is happy surrounded by her artwork.  Probably with a view of the sea on the North coast of Cornwall so that the sea is blue.  I haven’t seen it. I don’t know if it exists or whether I have yet to build it.

Thanks so much Nigel!