Colin Bentwood, Managing Director (and EPA programme manager), Strategic Development Network (SDN)

In the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing a series of articles taking you through the end-point assessment methods used in new apprenticeship assessment plans, and some of the practical issues to consider.

Welcome to Article #1, here’s a look under the bonnet of “high-stakes” end-point assessment and how it’s starting to shape up.

Apprenticeship end-point assessment is happening. Every apprentice aiming for one of the new apprenticeship standards will face a formal end-point assessment at the end of their programme.

The differences between the continuous assessment of a framework-based apprenticeship and the end-point assessment for a standard are clear and are starting to be understood.

The rigour of the end-point assessment is starting to be valued by employers, even though many current apprenticeship providers are not yet convinced.

At the same time, the role of the apprenticeship trainer-assessor is changing radically. In the old world, the focus is on training, the assembly of the portfolio and its continuous assessment.

In the new, any on-programme assessment will be focused on the progress the apprentice is making, on their success in passing through the new Gateway, and ultimately on their preparation for end-point assessment.

(The Gateway is the set of requirements laid down in each apprenticeship standard that have to be met before an apprentices can attempt end-point assessment.)

End-point assessment is “high stakes assessment”

End-point assessment is tough, it’s different and it’s high-stakes.

What I mean is, that unlike framework-based apprenticeships, where there’s plenty of time to hone the portfolio, success or failure at the end-point can have fundamental bearing at the start of a person’s career or on their progression.

Also, the fact that the stakes are high could lead to misdirected effort to “train for the test” and hot-house apprentices as they approach the end of their programme.

And the apprentice will be assessed by a stranger (the independent end-point assessor) rather than by the trainer-assessor that they have built a relationship with continuously over what could be a programme of three years or more.

On the plus side we are seeing in the early tranches of end-point assessment, in industries such as digital and energy, that employers are truly valuing the rigour of the process and are feeling in many cases that apprentices are much better prepared and job ready.

As more end-point assessments are done, it is hoped that this “parity of rigour” as opposed to “parity of esteem” will place apprenticeships at least alongside academic routes for employers, labour market entrants, and their parents.

Employers as assessment designers

Trailblazer employer groups have been writing assessment plans over the last five years. The guidance they have been following and their understanding of what constitutes rigorous, valid and robust assessment are still evolving.

There are many options and combinations of assessment methods that may be chosen for each assessment plan. How these methods are chosen and how they put together to infer competence is down to the assessment plan designers, in other words to the employers.

Employers understand what it takes to do a job well. They are not assessment design specialists and so assessment plans developed over the last five years are variable in design, quality, usability, and affordability.

Many plans are very good; they are not all great; but they do have one thing in common: both the employers and the government have signed them off.

So, it’s now the job of the new end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) and the end-point assessors they employ, to deliver rigorous, valid, robust and fair assessments for every apprentice, consistently.

Under the bonnet of assessment plans

During our work with the employer groups, apprenticeship providers, and the new EPAOs, we’ve had to get under the bonnet of many assessment plans, looking at how they can be put into practice and how assessors can be prepared to deliver consistency.

We’ve unpacked that and have come up with a more detailed breakdown of the possibilities for assessment methods.

 SDN Fig 1

 We’ve also conducted an analysis of the methods used in assessment plans. In the 208 published assessment plans a total of 637 assessment methods have been deployed. That around 2.8 per plan.

The breakdown looks like this:

Assessment methods in assessment plans 002

In the coming weeks, we'll be releasing a series of articles taking you through each assessment method in turn, looking at some of the standards they are used in; giving you an overview of how each assessment method works; how reliable, valid and robust they can or should be; as some of the practical issues you may encounter as you use them.

We’re very keen to hear from assessors who are using these methods in their end-point assessments every day.

We would love to feature your experiences of how end-point assessment is working in practice.

Let us know if you have any comments at the bottom of this page. 

Colin Bentwood, Managing Director (and EPA programme manager), Strategic Development Network (SDN)

To get to grips with end-point assessment in more depth, places are now available on our Level 3 Award course in Undertaking End-Point Assessment. SDN are also producing a set of recorded presentations covering the main end-point assessment methods and critical areas of practice.

These will be available at the beginning of March. Find out more here:

More updates and practice can be accessed on our new End-Point Assessment LinkedIn Group and through our mailing list – feel free to join!

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page