Jacqui Molkenthin, JEML Consulting

Are you an End-point Assessment Organisation #EPAO exploring how to continue to deliver #EPA during Covid-19?

Below are seven things for End-point Assessment Organisations to consider when exploring remote or simulated delivery options for face to face end-point assessments during Covid-19.

In these challenging times, both the IfATE and the ESFA have released guidance on the delivery of end-point assessment during Covid-19:

The most complex elements of EPA to continue to deliver during Covid-19, are where the assessment plans have face to face assessments, such as workplace observations.

In these scenarios both the ESFA and IfATE have stated that:

  • If a face to face observation cannot be delivered, as set out by the EPA plan, it may be done remotely if this has been authorised by the external quality assurance (EQA) provider for the apprenticeship standard
  • Where suitable facilities exist and are available, simulated environments may be used where this is reasonable and feasible, with the prior approval of the EQAP

So what does this mean?

This means that, for the scenarios listed above (remote / simulated delivery), the EpAO must contact their EQA provider to gain authorisation / approval. When that request is made to the EQA provider by the EpAO, the EQA provider will review the request to ensure that:

  • Whatever changes are approved, they can be applied consistently across all EpAOs delivering that standard
  • The integrity of assessment for the standard is maintained
  • The safety of the assessment, and safety and wellbeing of the apprentices on that standard is maintained
  • The original intent of the assessment is maintained for that standard

So, if you are an EpAO writing to your EQA provider asking for approval / authorisation for remote assessment or simulated environments, here are seven things I would recommend considering when making your request:

1. Check with your EQA provider

Before you make a request, check with your EQA provider, as they may already have published or agreed approaches to remote assessment for some standards, for example, NSAR, People First and Open Awards have documents on their websites.

2. Apply for each standard separately

I would recommend applying per standard you assess, rather than for your organisation as a whole. For example, if you end-point assess 3 standards, all of which have observations, make sure you detail the case / proposal for remote assessment for each standard, and not just make a proposal / case for your organisation to deliver all observations remotely. This is because, for the reasons listed above, the EQA provider will have to review the request based on the requirements of the standard. I would not have thought that the EQA would be able to authorise individual organisation approaches, as they will have to ensure the consistency of assessment across all EpAOs per standard.

3. Review safeguarding policies

Make sure you consider / refer to the Public Health England Guidance when making your request for remote / simulated assessment arrangements, as the safety of the apprentice (and the assessor) must be maintained at all times. It may mean that adaptations have to be made to your safeguarding policies and processes and/or facilities being used.

4. Maintain consistency for all EpAOs

Consider whether your approach is something that could be adopted by all EpAOs. The EQA provider must ensure that whatever they approve can be applied consistently across all EpAOs, so as to maintain the consistency and integrity of assessment no matter which EpAOs is delivering.

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5. Detail specific arrangements 

Detail the arrangements for remote /simulated delivery, don’t just ask for it. For example, detail the equipment that would be used, the location, timings, communication methods etc. This includes explaining how you will meet the ESFA and IfATE additional requirements for remote assessment:

 

  1. The apprentice’s identity is verified; appropriate technology and systems are in place.
  2. Remote tests are supervised by an appropriately trained invigilator, or qualified assessor, who has the necessary qualifications, training or experience; and who has not been involved in the training, preparation or line management of the apprentice. This supervision can happen remotely.
  3. The impact that remote assessment may have on apprentices is to be taken into consideration to ensure a fair and reliable assessment of occupational competence.

6. Maintain integrity of assessment plans

Identify how the remote / simulated delivery approach meets each of the assessment plan KSBs associated with the activity you wish to apply to switch to remote / simulated delivery. This is because there may be some KSBs that cannot be covered / evidenced by remote / simulated delivery, and in which case you will need to identify what methods you would use to ensure that all the KSBs are all covered throughout the EPA.

For example, if there is a KSB that cannot be covered during a remote observation, could it be covered by an additional question in the interview/professional discussion or via a witness testimony? A switch to remote assessment is unlikely to be supported by an EQA provider if the overall EPA cannot assess all the KSBs. Don’t forget that the integrity of assessment must be maintained, so, in accordance with the ESFA and IfATE guidance, it may be that a pause in assessment might be the only option.

7. Identify Risks

Identify the risks associated with your proposed remote delivery approach, and how you will mitigate, manage and monitor them. This would be around elements such as security, malpractice, safeguarding, costs, resources and so on.

Jacqui Molkenthin, JEML Consulting

If you do not yet have an EQA provider, please contact Open Awards with any requests you have for remote/simulated delivery options.

If you would like to know more about end-point assessment, I have authored a range of articles that you may find helpful:

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