The Institute’s Chief Executive, Jennifer Coupland

Simplifying Apprenticeship External Quality Assurance #EQA

A public consultation has been launched today (27 February) on the future of #EQA for apprenticeships.

A consultation has been launched on proposals to simplify and strengthen how external quality assurance (EQA) works for apprenticeship end-point assessment. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) is gathering views on proposals for all EQA to be delivered by Ofqual and the Office for Students (OfS)

Under the proposals all EQA would be delivered by Ofqual or, for integrated degree apprenticeships, the Office for Students (OfS).

The Institute’s Chief Executive, Jennifer Coupland, said:

"The Institute supports employers and welcomes as much feedback as possible on how we should reform the system, so that it works better for them and everyone else involved with EQA.It is extremely important that EQA maintains high assessment standards and apprentices are rigorously challenged to prove they can do the job they are being trained for."

Sally Collier, Ofqual’s Chief Regulator, said:

"We welcome the Institute’s consultation on its proposals for a strengthened and simpler approach to quality assuring apprenticeship end point assessments, including an expanded role for Ofqual. Like many others in the sector, we believe the current arrangements are complex, and the proposals outlined by the Institute will simplify and strengthen the approach in the future. The proposed new arrangements will enable efficiencies across the system.

"We encourage all who are connected with the system to respond to the consultation. We have established a strong track record of regulating end point assessments and employers and apprentices can have confidence that they are fair, consistent and signal occupational competence.

"We are planning for this expanded role, including how we could bring existing End Point Assessment Organisations into regulation. It maximises the opportunities and potential for each organisation’s expertise and powers."

Tom Bewick, Chief executive, FAB said:

“FAB welcomes the plan to simplify apprenticeship quality assurance in future. It was always a crazy proposition to have so many statutory and non-statutory bodies checking on the work of End-Point Assessment Organisations, when this is not the case, for example, in how apprenticeship providers are inspected for quality. It has unfortunately resulted in a nascent market turning into a Wild-West market in some parts. 

“Moreover, we are at a critical moment where public confidence in the integrity and robustness of quality in the apprenticeship system in England has been thrown into doubt, so I welcome IfATE’s move, under new leadership, to make this a statutory-led service in future, paid for directly by government.

“One important issue for Ofqual and OFS in taking over this role is that they will need to balance the call for standardised and consistent regulation, with the legitimate desire to ensure industry expertise in the design and delivery of assessment. As experts on awarding and assessment, FAB members stand ready to play their part in the move to a more streamlined system of quality assurance. We have long argued for a better system of ensuring public confidence in apprenticeships. Only that way can we secure the world-class apprenticeships model that Ministers, employers and learners want to see."

EQA is the system for ensuring quality is maintained around end point assessments that apprentices must pass before they receive certification for the completion of their apprenticeships.

The existing system was designed to provide a wide variety of options for who delivered EQA. These include professional and employer groups, the Institute itself, and established qualifications and higher education regulators Ofqual and the Office for Students (OfS).

There are currently 20 organisations approved to deliver EQA. We are proposing to strengthen and simplify the system by reducing the number of providers to just two established statutory regulators in Ofqual and OfS.

Professional and employer bodies would support Ofqual and OfS in their delivery of EQA, to ensure the employer voice remains integral to EQA.

This model would also allow us to review how EQA is funded and move from a system where organisations are charged different rates for EQA depending on the provider, to one where government funds all activity directly.

The Institute would retain oversight of EQA through our updated framework, following the proposed reforms.

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