From education to employment

EPA is not just for Gateway!

Nikki Juffs, Managing Director, Advance EPA

End-Point Assessment (EPA) is a critical phase in an apprentice’s journey. Embedding EPA from induction and throughout the on-programme learning enhances apprentices’ understanding of the assessment plan requirements understanding of the assessment plan requirements, which can enhance and help to improve apprenticeship success, and most importantly, preparing the apprentice fully for EPA.

The Benefits of Embedding EPA

EPA is often introduced to apprentices at gateway: all on-programme learning has been completed and any mandatory qualifications achieved, now it’s time to think about EPA! I am not saying that EPA hasn’t been mentioned, however, it hasn’t been built into the programme and can therefore cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for apprentices.

Over time, different approaches to apprenticeship training recognise the value of embedding End-Point Assessment (EPA) from the very beginning of an apprentice’s journey.  

With the introduction of Apprenticeship Standards, the End-Point Assessment is often perceived as the final hurdle in the apprentices’ journey, the ultimate assessment of a learner’s skills, knowledge and behaviour. However, this perception overlooks a crucial aspect: EPA is not just for gateway. In fact, starting the EPA preparation process from induction can be highly beneficial. Many apprentices come to EPA not fully understanding what is required or what to expect and some not understanding the assessment plan.

Combat those EPA Nerves

Introducing the Apprenticeship Assessment Plan and explaining the EPA requirements at induction phase familiarises apprentices with the assessment format, criteria, and expectations right from the very beginning. Through experience and feedback apprentices have reported as not showing up for EPA through nerves and uncertainty as to what expect. After all the learning and training, it’s disheartening when apprentices don’t show up for their final assessment. Not to mention costly for providers. Early introduction to the assessment plan, aligning expectations, and integrating on-programme training into EPA reduces anxiety, empowering apprentices with confidence and clarity for their journey.

EPA is not just for Gateway

Embedding EPA and the assessment plan from induction enables trainers to identify apprentices’ strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences early on. Matching these to the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) in the assessment plan will identify gaps early in the journey. By helping to understand each apprentice’s individual needs and goals, trainers can tailor learning pathways and interventions to optimise skill development and performance throughout the apprenticeship journey.

The Crucial role of the Assessment Plan

The assessment plan does play a crucial role in apprenticeship planning. The plan is often overlooked as an assessment tool that can play a vital part at Induction and help apprentices fully understand what is required of them throughout the apprenticeship journey, from Induction through to EPA conclusion and then gaining that final grade. If an apprentice doesn’t grasp the importance and the contents of the assessment plan in readiness for EPA, we might as well ask them to bake a cake, blindfolded with no recipe!

Using the assessment plan as a tool and as an ongoing working document can break down and remove any barriers that apprentices commonly face at EPA. The assessment plan can be used to set tasks, to gain an understanding of current knowledge, skills and behaviours – allowing providers to address skills gaps and plan activities and learning that can take place moving forward. Each apprentice must be given a copy of the relevant assessment plan at induction, to use as a working document and for the coach to review at each assessment visit.

Empowering Apprentices

End-Point Assessment really does start at Induction. Everything that an apprentice achieves, learns and showcases is all work that leads to the final assessments as specified in each assessment plan. If the apprentice is aware of what they are working towards, and what end point assessment is about, it will remove the stigma of EPA and ensure apprentices feel more prepared. The assessment plan gives a clear focus to apprentices, giving them the opportunity to build on their own competencies based on the KSBs within the assessment plans. The assessment plan can be used as an action plan broken down into manageable tasks to tick off the KSBs as they are being achieved.

As Dr Stephen R. Covey famously said in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”

Guiding the Journey

Each assessment plan clearly sets out the assessment methods that will be used at the final EPA and what is to be showcased for each. If an apprentice is building a portfolio of evidence, ensure they match the KSB to each piece of evidence. EPAOs will have produced resources to assist assessors, coaches, employers and apprentices throughout the journey – ensure these are utilised from the induction.

Enhanced Employer Engagement

By involving employers in the induction process, apprenticeship providers foster stronger employer engagement and commitment to apprentices’ success. Employers gain a clear understanding of assessment requirements and can actively support apprentices in achieving their goals, leading to more fruitful partnerships and higher retention rates. Its also a great idea to run a separate induction for Employers and the mentors of the apprentices that the employers have.


Embedding End-Point Assessment from induction transforms the apprenticeship training paradigm by integrating assessment activities seamlessly into the learning journey from the outset. This approach not only familiarises apprentices with assessment expectations early on but also enables tailored learning pathways, seamless integration with on-the-job training, ongoing assessment and feedback, and enhanced employer engagement. By starting EPA from induction, apprenticeship delivery teams can maximise apprentices’ success, optimise training outcomes, and prepare a skilled workforce for the future. As this way of working evolves it will give apprentices more confidence, tackle the EPA nerves and hopefully see retention and achievement rates increase.

One final point

The apprenticeship assessment plan serves as the guiding scripture, offering clarity and direction throughout the journey, ensuring every step aligns with the ultimate goal of success. Introduce it at day 1 and again throughout the journey!

Nikki Juffs, Managing Director, Advance EPA

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