Sam Sleight explains how to become an End Point Assessor, the changes that are happening to Apprenticeships and the role of an Assessor:
There has been a lot of talk around the changes to Apprenticeships, although there has been very little talk around preparing ourselves for these changes. One area in particular where there seems to be very little awareness, is the process for becoming an End-Point Assessor.
For anyone who isn’t already aware of what End-Point assessments are or what they involve, I will briefly explain what they are all about. On the other hand, if you are already clued up, then you can just skip straight to finding out how you become an End-Point Assessor.
What are End-Point Assessments?
In order for an apprentice to complete their apprenticeship, they must complete the End-Point Assessment (EPA). The EPA can only happen once the apprentice has completed the ‘on-programme element’. This is basically all of the vocational and functional skills qualifications that make up their apprenticeship.
The End-Point Assessor will then be responsible for determining what kind of grade the learner will achieve on their apprenticeship. It’s no longer a case of pass or fail. It’s now either a pass, merit or distinction, dependent on how well the apprentice performs in their EPA. They will do this by carrying out a few final assessments on the learner. The requirements for these assessments will be detailed in the new ‘Assessment Plans’. Any already-qualified assessors will be familiar with assessment plans. However, in the context of apprenticeships, these assessment plans are slightly different.
Every single Apprenticeship Standard now has its own Assessment Plan. This details what assessments the End-Point Assessor needs to carry out with the apprentice. So it isn’t down to the End-Point Assessor themselves to create the assessment plan.
As you may have realised from what I mentioned above regarding the on-programme element, the end-point assessor isn’t involved in any way with the delivery or assessment of the vocational qualification/s that the apprentice completes. The EPA is carried out by an independent external assessor. The End-Point Assessor doesn’t have any involvement with the apprentice whatsoever, prior to them meeting the ‘Gateway’ requirements (the requirements that the apprentice must meet before being able to progress onto the End-Point Assessment).
Are we all feeling slightly more confident that we know what End-Point Assessments are all about? If so, then now we can help you to identify what you need to do to become an End-Point Assessor!
Becoming an End-Point Assessor
In terms of becoming an End-Point assessor, there appears to be a difference in what we would advise as best practice and what is actually set out as a requirement. Some assessment plans list criteria which the independent assessor must meet to be eligible for the delivery of End-Point Assessments.
Take this snippet from the Customer Service practitioner assessment plan as an example:
The assessment decisions need to be taken by Independent Assessors. To ensure consistent and reliable judgements the Independent Assessor must meet the following criteria:
- understanding of the customer service sector and of the role covered by the apprenticeship
- current occupational competence of 2 years or more
- no direct relationship with the apprentice
- hold or working towards a qualification to undertake assessment and verification activity (i.e. PGCE, Cert Ed or Assessor/Verifier qualifications) and/ or have significant knowledge and expertise in providing consistent and appropriate judgements of a candidate’s skill and ability
It almost goes without saying that in order to become an End-Point Assessor, for any apprenticeship standard, you will need to be able to evidence occupational competence in that area.
You can evidence your occupational competence through experience of working within the sector and any relevant prior qualifications you have acquired. The level of occupational competence you would be required to have may be specified in the assessment plan like it is above. Or this might not be the case…
There appears to be a number of assessment plans that don’t state what the requirements are (in terms of prior experience and qualifications) for the End-Point Assessor whatsoever.
This makes it difficult to establish a hard and fast requirement for anyone looking to become an End-Point Assessor. Because of this and the fact that end-point assessments involve the assessment of an individual’s knowledge and competence within their occupation, we would recommend gaining an assessor qualification (if you don’t already have one). In our eyes, this would certainly be best practice. Although, as I mentioned above, possibly not essential.
For arguments sake, let’s say that you are a fully qualified assessor and have heaps of occupational competence. So you are ready to take the next step, whatever that might be. Then, in that case, you can look at joining an Apprentice Assessment Organisation. “But, what the jeff is an Apprentice Assessment Organisation?” I hear you ask. Allow me to explain…
You can’t become an End-Point Assessor for any old learning provider, whether it be a training provider or a college. You can only be an End-Point Assessor with an Apprentice Assessment Organisation (AAO).
These are organisations that have applied to become approved centres for offering End-Point Assessments. If you are curious, then you can find the list of approved AAOs here. At the time of writing this article, there were under 50 Apprentice Assessment Organisations, so there isn’t a great deal of choice out there at the moment.
But that being said, there will be a heap of new applications shortly, so the register of assessment organisations is will be growing over the coming months. Furthermore, there are already quite a few organisations on that list looking for independent End-Point Assessors.
So, what’s my starting point?
If you don’t currently hold an assessor qualification then that could be your starting point. As I mentioned earlier, this could be optional. If you are unsure as to whether or not you need to complete an assessor qualification, and then have a chat with someone from Brooks and Kirk. Not only would they be able to advise you on whether or not you need to complete an assessor qualification, but they would also be able to provide you with the relevant qualification if appropriate.
If you are already suitably experienced and qualified, then you need to begin your search for an AAO that is looking for End-Point Assessors in the sector which you are occupationally competent in.
This is actually relatively simple as well. If you go to the 'Using the register of apprentice assessment organisations' page and download or view online the latest register of apprentice assessment organisations, you should be able to find the organisations which you need to be targeting.
Once you have opened the latest register, you will need to scroll across until you find the column that details the apprenticeship standards which each organisation can offer End-Point Assessments in.
From there, you can find the relevant assessment organisation and get in touch (Don’t worry if you can’t find many, if any, within your sector. This register will be constantly growing over the forthcoming months).
Easy as pie. Although, I do always find pie to be incredibly difficult to make. So maybe more like, easy as cheese on toast.
As I’m sure you will have noticed, there will now be two assessors involved in every apprenticeship. However, they won’t both be referred to as assessors. In the context of apprenticeships, the End-Point Assessor will be referred to as the ‘assessor’ and the person responsible for the delivery and assessing of the learner’s vocational qualifications (the on-programme element), will be referred to as the ‘trainer’.
Also, I will end the article on quite an important note; End-Point Assessments only occur in apprenticeships. A lot of people that we have spoken to thought that EPAs were part of all vocational courses. That is not the case. If you are just looking to assess NVQs/BTECs as standalone qualifications, then you don’t need to concern yourself with End-Point Assessments.
We hope this article has helped you to identify your next steps, whatever they may be!
Sam Sleight, Head of Marketing, Brooks and Kirk (Assessor Training) Ltd
About Sam Sleight: Sam is the Marketing Manager at Brooks and Kirk. Whenever he’s not working away on websites, managing advertising campaigns or creating new content, he’s probably watching football. But aside from his passion for football and Chelsea in particular, he is also passionate about helping those that are eager to start a new career in the FE industry to receive the best advice, guidance and support possible.
About Brooks and Kirk: Brooks and Kirk are an independent training provider with over 20 years’ experience in delivering assessor and internal quality assurance qualifications. They have loads of great content on their assessor training website for anyone that is interested in becoming an assessor. If you are interested in finding out more here is a link to the Brooks and Kirk assessor training website.