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Paul Byrne, Chief Executive at CABWI

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CABWI (@CABWI_AB) is a long-established awarding organisation #AO that also became an end point assessment organisation #EPAO in 2018 and started delivering end point assessment #EPA in May 2019. We felt with our expertise in assessment and focus on a niche sector (the water industry), we were extremely well placed to provide EPA.

Interpretating the assessment plan

One thing that we struggled with initially in our preparation, was the interpretation of the assessment plan for the standard that we were going to deliver.  While the assessment plan set out the constituent parts that made up the overall assessment, it provided little detail of the content, duration or execution of the different assessment methods. In looking at other assessment plans, this appears to be a recurring factor.

The most common method employed in an assessment plan is a knowledge test. Essentially, this is a multiple-choice examination. In a lot of cases, no guidance is provided on the number of questions or duration of the test so, if you have multiple EPAOs working with the same standard, somebody could develop a test with 50 questions and somebody else could develop a test with 30 questions. Despite this, the same weighting would apply to the result.

As an AO and therefore an ‘expert’ in assessment, it was relatively easy for us to build robust and effective assessments that we knew would thoroughly test against the standard.  However, for EPAOs that are not AOs, I wonder how easy it is for them to interpret the assessment plans and build the assessments?

Still a reluctance to use regulated qualifications

The Trailblazer groups do a great job of developing the standards and the associated assessment plans, but I do wish that EPAOs who are also AOs were not held at arm’s length from being involved.  I appreciate the potential for collusion and conflict of interest, but there is a wealth of experience in assessment setting in AOs that is not being used.

Although regulated qualifications are now allowed to be included in a standard, I continue to see a reluctance to use them – even though this would be a great way of assessing the apprentice throughout their journey.  If a qualification was included, it would reduce the time spent on EPA and avoid issues around attempting to assess too much in a short period of time. 

I know of one standard where a nationally-recognised qualification could very usefully have been included but it was resisted and now there is struggle to come up with a robust assessment plan that covers all of the knowledge of the standard.

AOs have so much to offer in the development of assessment plans and their constituent parts and, with the right controls in place, I see no reason why we should not be involved in this important aspect of the apprentice’s journey.

Paul Byrne, Chief Executive at CABWI

Paul is Chief Operating Officer of CABWI Awarding Body, responsible for the day to day running of all aspects of the business. CABWI is a small awarding organisation providing vocational qualifications to the water and utilities industry, with a clear focus on the engineering sector, that has its own challenges.

This blog originally appeared in EPA Weekly, published by the Federation of Awarding Bodies. Find our more and subscribe here.

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