Jacqui Molkenthin, JEML Consulting

I have heard organisations and people saying that the gateway to end-point assessment (EPA) has become a tick box exercise.

I have also heard others talking about setting up a whole new industry about mini-end-point-assessment or pre-end-point-assessment-assessment at the gateway to ensure readiness for EPA.

These are two extremes, but what is clear, is that there are wide ranging approaches, and understanding, of the gateway to EPA assessment and what it means.

So, what is the Gateway?

The gateway is the entry point to EPA. It is the point at which the apprentice has completed their learning, met the requirements of the standard, and that they, alongside their employer and training provider agree that they are ready to enter their EPA.

The requirements of the gateway are unique to each apprenticeship, and are detailed in the apprenticeship assessment plan.

All assessment plans can be accessed via an easy to use search function on the on the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education website.

However, it is not always easy to locate the gateway requirements within the assessment plan, as they do not all have a dedicated section entitled “gateway requirements”.

The Conditions for EPA organisations (para 44) states that the End-point Assessment Organisation (EpAO) must ensure the apprentice has passed the gateway review.

However, what this does NOT mean is that it is the role of the EpAO to carry out the gateway review and confirm apprentice readiness.

It is the role of the employer to conduct the gateway review, supported by the provider, who in turn will have a continuing duty of care for the apprentice as they undertake EPA.

As part of the process of passing the gateway review, the employer must agree that the apprentice:

  1. is in their view competent in the role and therefore ready to do the endpoint assessment
  2. has achieved mandatory on-programme qualifications (where applicable)
  3. has achieved other specific requirements where these are listed in the assessment plan, such as completing a logbook or service record

Detailed information about DEVELOPING AN END-POINT ASSESSMENT PLAN is provided by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

There are elements of gateway review that are simple yes/no checks, but there are also other elements where close work between employer, training provider and apprentice are essential to ensure an apprentice is ready to enter EPA, and in fact some apprenticeship assessment plans also require the gateway to be the time to submit apprentice portfolio, and agree certain EPA activities, such as a project (refer to the last section in this article).

To confirm readiness, EpAOs use a range of tools.

For example, some may provide the employer with a gateway declaration to complete, some may require a letter from the employer to confirm readiness, and some may use an on-line portal system for electronic declarations.

Sometimes the approach is rigid because the assessment plan has mandated the type of gateway declaration / paperwork required.

The key point to note here, is that the employer and provider should engage with the employer selected EpAO as early as possible, so that they know what to expect and what is required.

Don’t forget that although the employer and provider should engage with the EpAO early, the EpAO itself cannot get involved in training design / delivery or in confirming the apprentice readiness.

It is important not to go over the top, and to seek guidance from the EpAO. The gateway is not about saying that the apprentice is guaranteed to pass, or conversely, about preventing them from entering EPA until you can guarantee a pass.

The underlying principle behind the gateway is to check and ensure that the apprentice has been able to learn all the knowledge, skills and behaviours, has achieved any mandatory qualifications, has built up a portfolio of evidence, and been fully informed on what to expect during EPA.

It may sound silly, but don’t forget to involve the apprentice in this process, it is not just an arbitrary decision by the employer or provider about readiness.

It is reasonable to expect the EpAO to provide guidance documents in support of EPA.

This could cover a whole range of things such as: how to submit evidence, the duration of assessments, assessor/apprentice ratios, facility requirements for observations, assessment delivery (face to face, skype etc), approach to re-sits and re-takes, rights to appeal, and so on.

So, what are the Gateway checks?

As mentioned, there are some that can be viewed as “tick box” and others that will require more involvement across employer, provider and apprentice.

The “tick box” checks

i. Duration

Have they met the minimum duration as published in the Standard? Some standards say ‘expected’ or ‘typical’ or ‘anticipated’ duration rather than ‘minimum’. If this is the case then you must remember that the ESFA Funding Rules require training to be a minimum of 12 months, and that the EPA can only be taken after the minimum duration has been met.

ii. Maths and English

All apprentices will have to have completed maths and English at the appropriate level (level 2 for apprenticeship at level 3 and above, level 1 for apprenticeships at level 2.

But don’t forget, for apprenticeships at level 2, the apprentice must work towards maths and English level 2 and take the assessment)

iii. Mandated qualifications

Some apprenticeship standards mandate qualifications; you will need to be able to provide the certificate at gateway. There may be some exceptions whereby the certificate is required at the mid-way point of an apprenticeship, or at the end of the apprenticeship rather than gateway, so please check the assessment plan.

The more detailed checks

Checking the apprentice has learnt the knowledge, skills and behaviours – this is more than just a case of the apprentice finishing their training.

Standards are different to Frameworks, they are not just built up on a range of qualifications (although a few do contain mandatory qualifications within them), they are based on apprentice skills and behaviours, as well as their underpinning knowledge.

This is why the employer’s role is so important both in terms of involvement in the apprenticeship delivery, and in the determination of apprentice readiness.

Examples of methods to determine readiness include:

  1. Mapping - The training provider and employer will have mapped their training plan and scheme of work to the Apprenticeship Standard. This should be used, alongside evidence of the apprentice’s work (for example, through their portfolio) to determine readiness.
  2. Reviews - The employer and provider will have carried out regular reviews with the apprentice, and the apprentice themselves will have collected peer reviews and feedback, and carried out reflective learning during their apprenticeship. These will help to determine readiness, particularly in relation to skills and behaviours
  3. Apprentice - Some employers may ask the apprentice to present their own evidence as to why they feel they are ready for EPA.
  4. Mocks - Some may choose to carry out mock assessments, such as mock multiple-choice tests. Please be aware that is not mandatory for an EpAO to provide mock assessment materials, many are beginning to develop and provide mock assessment materials as their EPA service develops

Additional Activities at gateway

As mentioned earlier, some apprenticeship assessment plans require the gateway to be the time to agree certain EPA activities, such as a project, or the submission of specific apprentice work.

This means that there will have to be a conversation and/or meeting between the employer and EpAO to agree those activities.

For example:

  1. in the Assessor/Coach apprenticeship, the showcase must be submitted at gateway;
  2. in the Learning and Development Practitioner apprenticeship, the employer should send the work-based project plan within one week of gateway to the EPAO for approval
  3. in the Policy Officer apprenticeship, the portfolio must be submitted to the EpAO at gateway to enable them to decide on the questions to be asked during the professional discussion.

In summary, communication is key to making the gateway as smooth and effective as possible.

The employer, provider and EpAO should engage as early as possible; and the employer, provider and apprentice should work together to continually review the apprentice progress against the requirements (knowledge skills, and behaviours) of the Standard.

And on a final note, make sure the required evidence is collated and can be easily accessed in a secure manner by the EpAO (you’ll need to ensure you have the right data sharing and security measures/protocols in place).

Jacqui Molkenthin, JEML Consulting

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

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 May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 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.

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.

Podcasts

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.

Events

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