The introduction of End Point Assessment (EPA) into new Apprenticeship standards brings a fresh challenge for apprentices, employers and, in particular, Assessors. However, as many Apprentice Assessment Organisations (AAOs) are already discovering, the new standards are creating opportunities for Assessors to make the transition.
As we know, new apprentices will go from having their progress evidenced and assessed throughout their programme, to having to complete an End Point Assessment, overseen by an independent Assessor from an Apprenticeship Assessment Organisation registered with the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
And, as has been well-documented, the purpose of the EPA is to completely and fully test that an apprentice is capable of doing the job they’ve been training for before they receive their apprenticeship certificate.
The real key to this is demonstrating that the apprenticeships skills, knowledge and behaviours can be applied in the real world of work.
To do that, Assessors must be up-to-date with their industry and occupational area and be independent of the assessment centre and apprentice. The move promises to improve apprenticeships for the benefit of both apprentices and employers. However, accommodating the new ways of working will mean a major shift for Assessors and Apprenticeship Assessment Organisations.
For Assessors, the most important factor is finding an AAO that will not only value their expertise but support their transition and maximise their opportunities in the new world of apprenticeship standards. Those AAOs that have qualified to register with the Education and Skills Funding Agency will have to help current Assessors to upskill to become End Point Assessors.
Previously, on-programme Assessors would have worked closely with apprentices from initial sign-up, through induction to qualified apprenticeship. That offered the opportunity to build good relationships, offer input and coaching that guided apprenticeships towards successful qualification.
While that still remains true for programme trainers, End Point Assessors will need to create a rapport with apprentices in a much narrower window.
The new role of End Point Assessor will need a different skill set and so making the transition will mean that Assessors will need the support and guidance of an Apprenticeship Assessment Organisation. Plus, grading is changing too, moving from a fairly straightforward system that had a degree of flexibility built-in, to one that includes Pass/Merit/Distinction in some cases. This of course has a fundamental bearing on how someone starts and progresses in their career.
In the new world of apprenticeship standards, AAOs will need to supply Assessors who can objectively assess skills, knowledge and behaviours. So there are both challenges and opportunities for the organisations and those thinking about making the transition and who are serious about their on-going career development.
Requirements for End Point Assessors will vary for each apprenticeship standard and assessment plans as these vary by employer and occupation. Some will require a current qualification while others won’t.
Approved Apprenticeship Organisations are looking for an up to date record of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) that demonstrates recent, relevant industry or occupational experience.
This is already a prerequisite in occupations such as hairdressing where assessors and trainers must both maintain their occupational currency.
AAOs are also providing training on how EPAs will work for given occupations. To make sure Assessors fully understand the change of assessment approach from evidence-based to synoptic, and what this means for apprentices, training can include face-to-face sessions and online webinars, for example, or take a blended approach.
Models that are emerging between AAOs and centres are built around partnership working, where AAOs pay approved centres for access to services and Assessor expertise where there is spare capacity.
Given the shortage of End Point Assessors with the necessary skills, industry knowledge and assessment experience right now, and particularly at higher levels, End Point Assessors in occupations where standards and assessment plans are already approved are advised to go directly to AAOs to explore the opportunities.
Charlotte Bosworth, Managing Director, Innovate Awarding
About Charlotte: Managing Director of Innovate Awarding, a regulated Awarding Organisation with a focus on Apprenticeships. Charlotte’s career within Education commenced in 1996 with RSA Examinations Board and she has vast experience in curriculum, assessment and qualification design. Charlotte has spent much of her career working in partnership with thought leaders in education to influence curriculum delivery and development, and to ensure best practice is assimilated into the development of qualifications, assessments and delivery. Much of Charlotte’s work has included building relationships and interpreting the needs of employers.
About Innovate Awarding: Focused on overcoming the challenges, they are actively recruiting and developing End Point Assessors in those occupational areas where standards and assessment plans have been approved.