Tom Burton, NOCN

@SDN_HQ caught up with @cheftomburton -Tom Burton, Director of Apprenticeships, @NOCNGroup to find out what the main differences are for apprentices undergoing remote assessment compared to standard EPA.

Many apprentices are due to take end-point assessment over the coming months. However, the fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic means a large number of these apprentices are taking their assessment from home. This creates new and significant challenges for the apprentice – and for on-programme trainers keen to prepare apprentices appropriately.

To help you tweak how you are preparing apprentices for EPA, SDN caught up with Tom Burton, Director of Apprenticeships, at NOCN to find out what the main differences are for apprentices undergoing remote assessment compared to standard EPA.

1. If the technology isn’t there, the EPA doesn’t happen

First and foremost, EPAOs must be sure that the apprentice has an opportunity to undergo a fair assessment. This starts with the technology. The EPAO will want to make sure that the apprentice has the right technology so they can show their best self during the assessment – and this will depend on the tech requirements of individual standards and the assessment methods used.

For example, if an apprentice needs to carry out a multiple choice test online and only has access to a mobile phone, rather than a laptop, they are unlikely to be able to view and answer the questions at the speed and accuracy they would if they’d taken the test in the workplace on a PC.

Or an engineering apprentice that needs to draw a technical drawing at EPA, might have a state-of-the-art computer with AutoCAD installed, but only one screen – when they would usually be working with two or three screens under normal conditions.

If the technology doesn’t fit the requirements, then the end-point assessment does not go ahead remotely.

2. The EPA needs to be conducted in a suitable space

On a similar theme, the apprentice needs to be able to undergo the end-point assessment undisturbed in a suitable space. For some apprentices this is impossible to facilitate.

For example, an apprentice may be responsible for young children and cannot access childcare in lockdown, or the apprentice may live in small premises where they could only take the assessment in a busy dining room or shared bedroom. When it isn’t realistic to undergo the assessment in the right conditions it doesn’t happen.

However, many apprentices can take their EPA at home, but need to take some action to make sure they aren’t disturbed. For example, if apprentices live in a shared house, they must put a sign on the door saying ‘do not disturb’ similar to what would happen if they were taking an assessment in an exam room.

3. A check of the physical environment happens before the EPA begins

Without an invigilator in the room, a check of the physical environment happens before the EPA begins.

The remote invigilator or assessor will ask to see what notes or crib sheets the apprentice has, and check that they are permitted for that assessment. They will also ask the apprentice to take their device and show a 360 of the room through the camera – looking at posters, bookshelves, sticky notes and the desk itself – just to make sure nothing is going to jeopardise the outcome of a fair assessment.

4. Fair assessment checks during and after the assessment

When the assessment starts, whether it’s delivered through Teams, WebEx or Zoom, it will be recorded so that the invigilator can look back from a quality point of view and investigate anything that seems suspicious.

Likewise, the invigilator may pause the assessment in real time, if they think the apprentice is looking at something prohibited, such as another screen or a person at the door offering advice. They will ask the apprentice to show them what they were looking at to check they are not gaining an unfair advantage.

This is explained to the apprentice before the assessment starts and they should also have read briefing notes on what to expect which are sent out by the EPAO beforehand. 

5. Assessors have had additional training

It’s also worth saying that end-point assessors and invigilators will have had additional training to deliver remote end-point assessments. They need to understand the additional nerves the apprentice might face, know the procedures inside out and have a thorough grip of the technology being used so that they can run the sessions as seamlessly as possible.

It wouldn’t fill the apprentice with any kind of confidence if the EPAO staff didn’t know where the record button was on the platform or how to use the chat function for example, so end-point assessors need this training to be the experts leading the apprentice.

Ultimately, the EPAOs want to be confident that all assessments are taking place in a fair, honest and valid manner.

So, how can you better prepare apprentices for remote EPA?

To prepare apprentices for remote end-point assessment, there are some practical things you can help them think through:

  • Where they will sit the assessment – will it be quiet?
  • What device will they use – is it the right technology?
  • Is their desk clear and have they removed any prompts from sight?
  • Have they read all the brief material sent through from the EPAO?

Then it’s just practice, practice, practice! Run mock remote assessment with your apprentices, use the same technology they will use on the day, ask apprentices to log into the same platforms they will use on the day, put the sign up on the door. This will help to give apprentices the foundation they need for a successful assessment.

To find out more about NOCN’s end-point assessment service click here.

Interested in gaining an EPA qualification?

SDN is delivering the Level 3 Undertaking End Point Assessment Award completely remotely for on-programme trainers and assessors interested in gaining an insight into EPA. The course will provide you with the building blocks to carry out end-point assessment in the future, or prepare your apprentices for it.

SDN has helped many of the first EPAOs (and their assessor teams) setup to deliver end-point assessment and, because of this experience, has a cutting-edge insight into what end-point assessment looks like in practice.

Our July intake is fully booked, but a new cohort starts in August… Visit Undertaking End-Point Assessment for further course details and to book.

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