The Institute’s Chief Executive, Jennifer Coupland

Help Us Improve #Apprenticeship External Quality Assurance #EQA say @IFAteched 

End-point assessment #EPA is a key feature of the reformed apprenticeship system, testing that apprentices truly can do the job for which they have been trained.

It did not exist under the old apprenticeships and has been an important means of instilling confidence among employers and apprentices that more quality and rigour is now being applied.

We have worked hard to ensure that quality assurance around this relatively new assessment process is being delivered as fairly and consistently as possible, since the Institute launched in April 2017.

But I accept that improvements can be made to help ensure that EQA remains credible and rigorous for many years to come. Which is why we are unveiling our proposals to simplify and strengthen how it works through a consultation launching today (27 Feb).

Impressive progress was previously made with EQA before I started as Chief Executive in November last year.

We launched our first wave of improvements in June 2019, through a framework that enshrined how EQA should be delivered by all the organisations involved.

I am grateful to all those who have since co-operated well with our strengthened rules and regulations. It has begun to show benefits, for example in the overall standard of assessment plans.

However, more can be done

The existing system has provided a wide variety of options for who delivered EQA.

These include professional and employer groups, the Institute itself, and established qualifications and higher education regulators Ofqual and the Office for Students.

There are now 20 approved providers levying a variety of charges per apprentice for the service.

This can be confusing and frustrating and there’s a strong case for looking again at how this works. We are proposing to strengthen and simplify the system by reducing the number of providers to just two established statutory regulators in Ofqual and OfS.

This simplified model would mean EPA organisations only having to deal with a maximum of two EQA organisations. It could reduce escalating compliance costs, which some may currently face when trying to meet the requirements of multiple EQA providers.

Added to this, these changes would allow us to review how EQA is funded and move from a model where organisations are charged for EQA to one where government funds this activity directly.

That is not to say that there won’t be challenges

All end-point assessment organisations would need to be recognised by either Ofqual or OfS.

Employer or professional organisations which currently provide EQA would also need to reconsider how best they can support apprenticeship assessment in their sector. In some cases that may be by joining the pool of employer organisations which support Ofqual and OfS in their EQA work. Others may choose to become an EPA organisation.

The existing EQA system will of course remain in place until any reforms have been agreed upon. The Institute would also retain overall responsibility for EQA through our updated framework.

We have thought long and hard about what changes can be made to strengthen and simplify how EQA works.

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I would like to urge as many people as possible involved with apprenticeships to take part in this consultation and identify how our proposals can be further improved so they work better for everyone.

Jennifer Coupland, Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

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