Tom Bewick, Chief Executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB)

The chair of the Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon MP, has told the #SkillsWorld podcast that Ofqual should become the sole End-Point Quality Assurance (EQA) provider for England’s apprenticeship model in future.

Speaking exclusively to FE News, following his committee’s latest evidence gathering session, the former skills minister said:

I think the Institute for Apprenticeships has a very clear role in developing the standards.

What I’m not clear about is why we have a cast of thousands involved in the end-point assessment and quality assurance of apprenticeships.

Mr. Halfon said that the Institute should focus on working with employers and getting the standards right.

He pointed out that there was an obvious conflict of interest for the Institute to be responsible for the development of standards while “marking their own homework”, in the form of them being the EQA for a large proportion of the current 400 standards.

It seems to me that the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education should focus on developing the qualifications with the employers, but Ofqual is there. It does what it says on the tin, as a regulator for end-point quality assurance.

I think it is crazy for the Institute to do some of it [EQA], and Ofqual doing some of it. I think the role should go to Ofqual. And it should not go to the many trade and employer associations doing it because they will also be marking their own homework

Mr Halfon’s remarks will be seized upon by those in the sector who have been saying for some time that the current multi-track and inconsistent approach to quality assurance is dragging down the reputation of the reforms that began in 2013.

The Institute has been trying to grapple with the challenge of inconsistency across the apprenticeship landscape, with the establishment of a Quality Alliance involving key stakeholders. And the Institute plans to publish a new EQA framework and quality statement in the spring that is designed to ensure everyone is abiding by a common set of rules.

At an evidence gathering session of Halfon’s select committee on 12th March, the chief regulator, Sally Collier, was asked whether Ofqual had the track record and expertise to deliver the entire end-point quality assurance of apprenticeships:

“We have the resources to do what we currently do [as the EQA for 61 standards], but we would need more people and more resources,” she said.

Pressed on whether Ofqual would be submitting a tender bid to the Institute to carry out its EQA responsibilities, Collier said: 

It would not seem appropriate for a regulator to be bidding for a role that has come from another part of government.

The chair of the select committee also gave his views to Skills World on the quality of current training providers; the roll out of T-Levels and his wanting to start a “national conversation” on the abolition of GCSEs and A-levels.

Tom Bewick, Chief Executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB)

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Tom spoke to Rob Halfon MP for this episode of #SkillsWorld. Listen here to find out what Rob said about Ofqual, the Institute, and apprenticeship quality assurance:

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