Colin Bentwood, Managing Director (and EPA programme manager), Strategic Development Network (SDN)

For many, the concept of end-point assessment is still new. 

The independent nature of the assessor’s role is new, the concept of grading is new, and the way many of the assessment components are delivered will be new too.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve published a series of articles looking at different assessment methods specified in the new assessment plans, and started to unpick what they look like in practice in the context of high-stakes end-point assessment.

(If you’ve missed our earlier posts, here’s our introduction on how end-point assessment is shaping up, and insights into the professional discussion and presentation/showcase. The Institute for Apprenticeships is also starting to release early guidance on assessment methods too.)

So, Welcome to Article #3, this week let’s tackle the Practical Assessment…

The basics

If you’ve been an assessor in the sector for a while, practical assessments will be nothing new. But let’s quickly cover off the basics…

For this assessment method, a practical activity is set up where the apprentice is required to complete a defined set of work tasks. The apprentice is observed, the assessor noting performance and recording achievement using a qualitative and quantitative pro forma.

Generally, practical assessments are used to assess skills and behaviours, and work best where the task is “live” and as close to the real world as possible. Well-designed assessments can assess a full range of skills.

The assessor observes the conduct of an apprentice, looking for a pre-defined set of performance criteria. With an observation-based assessment, the tasks are more defined – a practical assessment is still controlled, but the outcomes are usually more flexible.

Where conducted well, practical assessments are a solid and reliable form of assessment, producing tangible outputs that can be compared across a peer group.

Advantages of this assessment method

Practical assessments show clear evidence of skills and behaviour performance, as well as evidencing knowledge. It is also an assessment method that links well with professional discussions as part of a synoptic assessment to bring out the underpinning knowledge (“I see you do it – do you know why you do it?”).

Risks of this assessment method

If the assessment isn’t well managed, particularly where tasks are linked, earlier errors can compound or escalate, causing the apprentice to underperform throughout the entire assessment. As the assessor (and with your EPAO), you will need to plan carefully and decide how you might intervene/manage the process where this is required, in a way that is fair and consistent across all your assessments and in different settings.

Added to this, as noted in previous articles, the high-stakes nature of end-point assessment (where the assessor is an examiner with no previous relationship with the candidate) is often nerve-racking for the apprentice and can impact on performance. Assessors will need to take this into account when moderating their grade, but also be skilled at putting the apprentice at ease from the start.

Where assessments produce qualitative as well as quantitative data, judgements can sometimes be more subjective or opinion-based, making it difficult to grade. It is important that outputs are assessed against an agreed baseline or criteria, with clear evidence to justify grading decisions. Using video to record the assessment will help to achieve consistency, provide evidence/justification and feed into internal moderating systems.

What it means in practice…

  • Practical assessments can be resource intensive to manage, but can also allow for remote assessment by an independent agent
  • It is important the assessor is prepared for all eventualities and is able to effectively oversee the assessment, particularly where practical tasks are closely linked. Giving the apprentice performance checkpoints will help to ensure early errors are not unnecessarily compounded
  • Where it is planned and managed well, practical assessments are a great way to assess the apprentice’s full range of skills and form part of an effective synoptic assessment which clearly evidences the apprentice’s level of competence overall
  • As an example – to see what a practical assessment looks like in a particular industry – take a look at the AM2 assessment model which is used in several of the electrical standards (this is largely driven by practical assessments and gives a useful insight). Other websites/organisations provide an overview of AM2 as well

Colin Bentwood, Managing Director (and EPA programme manager), Strategic Development Network (SDN)

Places are now also available on our Level 3 Award in Undertaking End-Point Assessment. SDN are also producing a set of recorded presentations covering the main end-point assessment methods and critical areas of practice.

They will be available mid-March. Find out about our courses here:

More updates and practice can be accessed on our new End-Point Assessment LinkedIn Group and through our mailing list – feel free to join!

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Westminster Forum Projects (WFP) added a new event 6 hours

Next steps for SEND provision in England - the SEND...

This conference will be an opportunity to discuss the future for SEND provision in England, following the expected publication of the Government’s...

  • Tuesday, 29 March 2022 09:00 AM
  • Online
Tina Morris has published a new article: Top Digital Solutions to Help Graduates Get Hired 6 hours 35 minutes ago

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page