From education to employment

Overview of external quality assurance transition

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End-point assessment (EPA) is fundamental to recent reforms of apprenticeships. It provides a complete, independent assessment that shows an apprentice is occupationally competent. Assessment must be high-quality. it must also provide a relevant and reliable test of occupation, and have credibility with stakeholders. 

We have a statutory responsibility to ensure that evaluations are made on the quality of these EPAs. We do this via our external quality assurance (EQA) regime. The Institute, Ofqual and professional and employer-led bodies have delivered EQA to date. All these organisations deliver EQA to a framework which we published last summer.

This year, we ran a consultation on a proposal to simplify and strengthen the EQA system. It proposed moving from a system where many organisations deliver EQA, to one where two organisations deliver EQA. These would be Ofqual or, for integrated higher and degree apprenticeships, the Office for Students (OfS).

We received over 200 consultation responses from a range of different stakeholders.

Most respondents recognised the benefits of the proposed system and, supported this as the way forwards for EQA. We are thus proceeding with the proposal outlined in the consultation. We believe this will lead to a stronger system for quality assuring EPA.

We want to maintain and strengthen, beneficial aspects of the current EQA system. This includes the employer voice, which is central to ensuring that apprenticeships and EPA are relevant and credible with employers. We will create a directory of employer organisations. From this, Ofqual and the OfS can draw expertise in undertaking EQA to support this.

Year one

In year one, starting in August 2020, we will transfer standards where we are the current EQA provider. Ofqual recognition of relevant EPAOs to deliver the EPA will drive the precise date that EQA for a standard transfers to Ofqual. 

We will consider standards in six groups, which are in the main aligned to occupational routes.

The timeline below indicates when we expect standards to transfer to Ofqual, when you will be contacted and when Ofqual EQA is scheduled to begin. We will continue to take a flexible and pragmatic approach to planning within the year. The exact date for the transition of a standard and what this means for you as an EPAO will be clearly communicated.

Timeline for standards transferring 


When we will contact EPAOs

Ofqual expects EQA to begin from 

Mixed standards where EPAOs are already recognised by Ofqual

 August 2020 

 November 2020 

Construction and some engineering & manufacturing  

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 August 2020 

 January 2021 

Engineering & manufacturing 

 September 2020 

 Q1 2021 

Business administration 

 October 2020 

 Q1 2021 

Legal, finance & accounting 

 November 2020 

 Q2 2021 


 November 2020 

 Q2 2021 

Please note: not all standards will fit exactly into these routes. Standards are considered using a range of factors and based on the register of end-point assessment organisations data

Year two

In year two we will start the transfer of standards covered by other EQA providers to Ofqual. We will communicate with the relevant EPAOs and EQA providers as we progress with the implementation.

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