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Level: 2

Location: Hudson Building

Years: 2

Interview: Y

Course Summary

This course meets the needs of students who have gained an apprenticeship position in groundworks.  It allows them to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for their employment.

The course is delivered in conjunction with the apprentice's employer and support is given to ensure specific training is available to meet all needs.

Groundworkers are the first trade onto a construction and civil engineering site and they work closely with supervisors and engineers in interpreting design specifications to prepare the site ready for the structural building works to take place.

They continue their work throughout the construction phase, working with all on-site construction trades, such as bricklayers and plant operatives, up to and including the final completion activities of the project. Their work includes setting out and preparing the sub-surfaces ready for the structural work to begin, installing drainage systems, concreting, constructing roads and pathways and carrying out the finished hard landscaping.

Groundworkers are able to transfer between heavy construction and civil engineering sites as well as house building, commercial building and general building sites. Groundworkers work for all types of construction companies, from small subcontractors to large main contractors.

Entry requirements

You should have gained employment as an apprentice with a groundworks or building company.

You will need to have a GCSE grade D/3 or equivalent in English and Maths.

A Pass or above in a Construction or Groundworks-based course - or an equivalent qualification - is desirable but not essential.  

You will be required to undertake a basic skills test in literacy and numeracy.

A commitment to your own learning and performance in a working environment is essential.

Course Content



Groundworkers have knowledge and understanding of:

  • the principles of health, safety, welfare and environmentally responsible work practices and how they must be applied in relation to the work, self and  others, including understanding the principles of risk assessments
  • basic awareness of environmental and health hazards e.g. Japanese knotweed, asbestos. How to identify contaminated ground conditions and the procedures for working safely on it.
  • basic principles of Building Information Modelling (BIM), drawings, method statements, manufacturers’ information, work schedules and specifications
  • technology including key factors and systems of work appropriate to different work environments and industry sectors (e.g. civil engineering, private residential, commercial)
  • the differences between modern and traditional construction methods and the physical and environmental factors when undertaking construction work and their potential impacts
  • the techniques to handle and move loads manually and with mechanical aids, including guiding the movement of articulated vehicles, plant and machinery using hand signals, hand signalling equipment and verbal/electronic communication equipment, and storing resources safely and securely
  • why, when and how health and safety control equipment should be used when undertaking groundworks, e.g. personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • the principles and methods of working within confined space 
  • erecting and dismantling access/working platforms
  • establishing work area protection
  • locating and excavating to expose buried utility services
  • providing temporary works including excavation support
  • the basic principles of internal/external drainage and ducting systems
  • measuring, marking, cutting and installing geo membranes to stabilise soil
  • gauging, mixing, placing, compacting and finishing mortars and concrete by hand and by mixer
  • reinstating excavations and ground surface finishes including installing street ironworks




A groundworker can:

  • work safely and securely in compliance with given information, organisational policies and procedures, and current health, safety and welfare legislation including following the procedures for working in contaminated ground
  • conform with productive working practices and complete the work in accordance with the programme of work
  • interpret and follow verbal and written work instructions from supervisors and site managers
  • access, interpret and use drawings and specifications
  • select the required resources, including tools and fixtures
  • move, handle and store resources complying with relevant legislation and guidance
  • use and maintain power tools and equipment (including compactor plates, boning rods, portable power tools, levels, straight edges, lines, pins and laser equipment)
  • gauge and mix mortars and concrete by hand and by mixer
  • select and use basic setting out equipment including tape measures, levels, straight edges, lines and pins, boning rods and laser equipment under guidance of the supervisor
  • install, maintain and remove temporary protection and safety arrangements for the work area relating to barriers and temporary structures, including protection, safety notices and safety lighting
  • install and test basic drainage and ducting
  • measure, mark, cut and install geo-membranes to stabilise soil for re-instatement and excavations
  • transport and place, then compact and finish concrete to slabs/bases, footing oversights, paths, form slab edgings including positioning reinforcement and kerbs
  • set out and lay flags, paviours and edging to paths, driveways and other areas
  • install ironworks relating to access covers and frames and gully grates and frames, including preparatory brickwork
  • locate and excavate to expose buried utility services using electronic location instruments
  • provide and remove temporary works, including shallow excavation support (up to 1.2 metres)
  • form and reinstate excavations and surfaces to sub-grades, sub-bases and road bases
  • prepare, then direct and guide the movement of vehicles, plant or machinery


Core behaviours for a groundworker are:

  • Effective communication - oral, written, electronic, listening, body language and presentation
  • Customer service – develop customer relationships; build customer confidence; meet expectations and contribute to the development of an ongoing relationship with the organisation
  • Respect - apply equality, diversity and inclusion in dealing with others
  • Team work - work effectively and safely with others under minimum supervision
  • Independent working - take responsibility for safe completion of your own work
  • Logical thinking - use clear and valid reasoning when making decisions to undertake the work instructions and when problem solving
  • Working effectively - undertake the work in a reliable, safe and productive manner
  • Time management - use own time effectively to complete the work instructions to schedule and always arrive and be ready to work on time
  • Adaptability - be able to adjust to changes to the work instructions, be able to identify when specialist advice may be needed and when to advise of the need to change work instructions
  • Risk management - be able to resist pressures to follow unsafe working practices


How will I be assessed?

Apprentices will typically spend 18 months on-programme working towards the apprenticeship standard, with a minimum of 20% off-the-job training.

The End-Point Assessment (EPA) should only start once the employer is satisfied that the apprentice is consistently working at or above the level set out in the standard and that the pre-requisite gateway requirements for EPA have been met.

As a gateway requirement, apprentices must complete a portfolio of work evidencing their knowledge, skills and behaviours in support of the Professional Discussion prior to taking their EPA.

Groundworker apprentices without English and Mathematics at Level 2 must achieve Level 1 English and Mathematics and take the tests for Level 2 prior to taking their EPA for the Groundworker Level 2 Apprenticeship.

The EPA will be completed over a maximum total assessment time of 24 hours (3 x 8 hour days), within a three-month period, after the apprentice has met the EPA gateway requirements.

EPA must be conducted by an organisation approved to offer services against this standard, as selected by the employer, from the Education & Skills Funding Agency’s Register of End-Point Assessment Organisations (RoEPAO).

The EPA consists of three distinct assessment methods: 

  • Knowledge Test
  • Skills Test
  • Professional Discussion (supported by portfolio)

Are there any additional costs or specialist equipment required?

You need safety boots and Personal Protective Equipment, such as a hard hat and overalls.

What can I do after this course?


You can progress to a Level 3 apprenticeship standard or supervisory, management, professional and technical courses and qualifications.

Did you find the course information on this page useful?


This course is run at the Hudson Building

Hudson Building

About the Hudson Building»

Jordan Richards

Jordan Richards

Building a winning future

Jordan Richards built his confidence as well as his technical skills on a Derby College Construction course – and the quality of his work has now been recognised in a string of competitions. Having taken a full-time course at our Ilkeston campus, Jordan secured an apprenticeship with GF Tomlinson, returning to College to take his qualifications to the next level. His tremendous commitment to his work saw him win the Junior Regional Skill Build brickwork title, take runner-up place in the Guild of Bricklayers regional competition, and gain a commendation in the College’s 2014 Peak Awards. He also reached the national finals of the Young Builder of the Year Award, attending a ceremony at the House of Commons.
Jordan has participated in many competitions alongside his study at Derby College. He has achieved an outstanding amount of awards and commendations. 

Commended - National Finals for Young Builder of the Year Award, 16-24-year-old category
Commended – Construction Apprentice/Work-based Award at the Derby College Peak Awards
Winner – Regional Skillsbuild, Junior Bricklaying category Runner-up – Regional Guild of Master Bricklayers, Junior category


Highly Commended Construction Learner of the Year Award at the Derby College Peak Awards
Highly Commended Apprentice of the Year Award at the Derby College Peak Awards


Winner – Regional (NOTTS/LINCOLN) heats of the Guild of Master Bricklayers
Second - Regional Skillsbuild heats Gold medal – Regional (NOTTS/LINCOLN) final of the Guild of Master Bricklayers
Runner-up – CITB Apprentice of the Year Awards Second place – Regional Skillsbuild final

I am enjoying my placement with GF Tomlinson and I learnt a lot over the course of just a year.

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