From education to employment

The changing role of the assessor in apprenticeships

Changes to apprenticeships in England mean big changes to the assessor role. This article looks at some of the main ones and what these will mean in practice for you if you are a vocational assessor and are planning to teach or assess on the new apprenticeship routes:

    1.    Apprenticeship standards are linked to roles not qualifications (although qualifications still form part of the gateway requirements on many apprenticeship routes). Assessors will use formative assessment during the on-programme element of the apprenticeship to enable apprentices to achieve gateway requirements and to prepare them for end-point assessment.

2.    You can’t end-point assess the same learners you teach or coach. If you are freelance, you may be able to juggle contracts and cohorts, but others may need to make decisions about what their role will be and how to position themselves (see point 4). If you are employed, your training provider should already be making decisions about changes to staffing structures.

3.    You need to ensure that your own occupational competence and knowledge are up-to-date. This is to ensure you have the right skills and knowledge to remain credible to employers. Employers involved in apprenticeships are already taking the assessment function in-house. You may need to go back into industry to remain employable.

4.    Apprenticeships involve in-depth teaching and learning and robust, independent, end-point assessment. This means positioning yourself to be able to structure learning and to teach, to be able to assess apprentices at the end of their apprenticeships according to the apprenticeship standard and assessment plan relevant to the role, or both.

5.    There are hardly any exemplar materials yet that show what end-point assessment looks like in practice. These are being developed and rolled-out by approved assessment organisations (AAOs) as the standards and assessment plans are approved.

Here are some suggestions as to what you might do to prepare yourself as an end-point assessor and/or on-programme trainer:

  • Keep checking the government’s website for the list of standards and assessment plans to see what’s been approved in your occupational area.
  • Get involved in developing exemplar materials via your approved assessment organisation (in apprenticeships, this is likely to be an Awarding Organisation but it could also be a training provider).
  • Identify your own CPD needs and do something about them now. Don’t leave it until the changes overtake you. Remember, you’re a dual professional, so this will mean updating your occupational competence as well as your teaching and assessment practice. If you haven’t done so already, consider training as a teacher if you wish to become involved in the planning and delivery of the on-programme element.
  • Ask your training organisation how they are planning for the changes to staffing structures and delivery approaches. Ask too for help with any CPD and updating that will be needed. If they are planning to deliver apprenticeships and haven’t yet started to make strategic decisions, ask yourself if they will still be in business when employers are choosing the training providers they want to work with.
  • Consider going directly to employers and offer your services, particularly if you operate within a specialist area and can assess at Level 4 or above. There are already shortages of skilled assessors in some areas (for example, STEM subjects). AAOs are trying to recruit assessors from industry but low rates of pay are making this unattractive.

This is not intended as a definitive list: we don’t know enough yet about what apprenticeships will look like in practice and things may change. If you are involved in the delivery of new apprenticeships and have any points that you’d like to add, please let me know.


End-point assessment: Independent assessment at the end of the apprenticeship.

Gateway requirements: requirements that the apprentice must meet before going on to end-point assessment.

On-programme element: Teaching, learning and assessment provided by the training organisation to enable the apprentice to meet the gateway requirements and to prepare them for end-point assessment.

Apprenticeship standard: The knowledge, skills and behaviours agreed by employers that apprentices must meet.

Assessment plan: Details of end-point assessment: what it comprises; the assessment methods to be used; and how grading will be applied.

Approved Assessment Organisations: Organisations that have been approved to offer end-point assessment.

© Hilary Read, 2016

Hilary is running CPD events with Ann Gravells nationally. The next event is in Leeds on June 9th. The event looks at:

The conference is themed around ‘Embracing Change’, and will include key speakers, exhibits and workshops.

Topics for discussion include: Apprenticeships, Functional Skills, Using technology, Technical qualifications, British Values, Prevent Duty, Professional Standards, The Sainsbury Report, Post 16 Skills Plan & more – and how these impact upon the role of the FE and skills practitioner.

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