The continued growth in the volume and type of apprenticeship standards (almost 480 approved for delivery to date) brings with it the continued growth in demand for end-point assessment organisations (EpAOs).
It is fantastic to see that there are already 236 EpAOs, a 50% increase from the same point in time last year, and that the average number of EpAOs per standard is 4.
However, there remain some apprenticeships without an EpAO.
In fact, in July 2019 there were 130 Standards without an EpAO, 43% of which had apprentices on programme.
It would be fantastic to see existing EpAOs expanding their offer, and for new occupational / sector specialist EpAOs to enter the market, so that the coverage is there, and to facilitate greater choice for employers when selecting an EpAO.
To support this, I thought it would be helpful to share information on the five key documents to read, and the nine key considerations to take on board when you are interested in applying to become an EpAO.
Here are the 5 key documents to access, read and consider when setting up as an EpAO:
- The ESFA introductory document (April 2019)
- The ESFA Conditions for EpAOs.
- The ESFA Funding Rules.
- The apprenticeship Standard and its associated Assessment plan (available from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education IfA website).
- The External Quality Assurance Framework
There are a range of things to consider when deciding whether to apply to the register of end-point assessment organisations, here are the Top Ten:
- Scope - Identify which apprenticeship standards you are interested in – details of the standards, their funding bands, their External Quality Assurance providers, and the anticipated apprentice volumes are all publicly available via the .gov(ESFA), and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.
- Company viability - You must have been trading for a minimum of 3 months (and have accounts ready to upload), be registered with the Information Commissionner's Office, have a UK provider reference number (UKPRN), and have the appropriate professional indemnity and public liability insurance
- Conflict of Interest - You cannot assess those you have trained. You must make every effort to manage and mitigate any potential or real conflict of interest in the delivery of your end-point assessment service.
- The Market – End-point Assessment is a commercial and competitive environment, you will need to understand the size of the market (likely apprentice volumes are shown on the Standard, accessible via the IfA website), and your competitors (shown on the register of EpAOs). You can also find out about numbers of apprentices on programme via government published data sets.
- Investment – you need to consider the upfront investment that you will need to make to design the EPA tools, procedures, processes and policies, and recruit and train assessors, in advance of delivery.
- Affordability – make sure you understand the size of the size of the market, the funding available, and the investment required, so that you can identify the likely returns.
- External Quality Assurance – you will need to check who the EQA provider is – if it is Ofqual you must meet Ofqual conditions of recognition before you can apply to be an EpAO. It is also worth noting that the External Quality Assurance Framework published by the Institute for Apprenticeships provides useful information that will enable you to understand the external quality checks that will be in place once you are approved on the register, and therefore could be used to shape your end-point assessment organisation and service.
- Occupational Expertise - your organisation must prove to the ESFA that you have CURRENT occupational competence in the apprenticeship you are applying to assess. This must cover expertise to design and maintain the end-point assessment tools and materials, as well as access to occupationally competent assessors. Don’t forget that your assessor expertise must be in line with the expertise specified within the assessment plan.
- Robust Policies and Procedures – you must have robust, transparent and deliverable policies and processes to ensure safe, efficient and effective delivery, maintenance, and ongoing quality assurance of your end-point assessment service. Policies should include: internal audit, safeguarding, Prevent, data protection and security, conflict of interest, monitoring, moderation, complaints and appeals, fair access, reasonable adjustments, certification, internal quality assurance, and recruitment and training, including continuing professional development
- Timeframes – your organisation must be ready to deliver end-point assessments between 9 and 12 months of approval on the register (the timeframes depend on the duration of the apprenticeship). If you can not achieve this you risk removal from the register
If you are keen to progress an application to the register you can begin your journey through the ESFA application portal.
Jacqui Molkenthin, JEML Consulting