From education to employment

Deadlines confirmed for second phase of EQA transition

Rob Nitsch, chief operating officer for the Institute

Key dates have been confirmed for the second phase of external quality assurance (#EQA) transition for apprenticeship end point assessment organisations.

EQA monitors the end-point assessment that apprentices take at the end of their apprenticeship, to ensure that it is fair, consistent, and robust across different apprenticeship standards and between different assessment organisations. The Institute is moving to a new strengthened and simplified system that will see this delivered by just two providers – Ofqual and, for integrated degree apprenticeships, the Office for Students. 

This reform process requires transition of EQA for hundreds of apprenticeships to Ofqual. All related end point assessment organisations on the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s register need to secure recognition from Ofqual.

The Institute announced extended timelines back in February for phase one, covering transition from the Institute’s EQA service to Ofqual, in response to concerns that COVID-19 was slowing down applications. This gave end-point assessment organisations until 1 July to make formal applications for recognition from Ofqual. They will then have until 16 December to complete the recognition process. These deadlines still apply.

Phase two arrangements have been confirmed today. They will cover transition from other organisations that currently provide EQA under the outgoing system, including professional and employer groups. Affected end point assessment organisations will have until the 14 April 2022 to make formal applications to Ofqual for recognition. They will have until 16 September 2022 to complete the recognition process.

Rob Nitsch, chief operating officer for the Institute, said:

“I would like to thank all the end point organisations that are already working with Ofqual through phase one and urge that all applications are lodged as soon as possible. We wanted to announce the timelines for phase two as early as possible to maximise opportunities for transition. We would like to see as many as possible achieve Ofqual recognition and transfer. That very much includes all the smaller specialists who have great expertise, have been doing a good job under the current system, and are really highly valued by employers.”

Catherine Large, executive director for vocational and technical qualifications, Ofqual said:

“We are pleased to begin taking forward plans for the next phase of EQA transition. We are now the EQA provider for over 200 standards, with 112 of these added since the transition period began. The increased number of standards subject to Ofqual regulation should give confidence to employers, apprentices, and end point assessment organisations that high quality assessments are being delivered in a consistent and reliable way. We acknowledge that every end point assessment organisation is different and have strengthened our resources to support them through the recognition process. If you’re looking to begin your Ofqual application, please register on our website where you will be assigned a member of the team to support with your application.”

Charlotte Bosworth, managing director of Innovate Awarding and chair of the Federation of Awarding Bodies’ (FAB) End Point Assessment Organisation Group, said:

“Ensuring a smooth transition for end point assessment organisations in phase two is key to all our success.  FAB has compiled a whole host of advice and support for them on our website and we’re running a WhatsApp group to ensure we provide fast answers and as much help as possible.”

End point assessment organisations that do not apply by the deadlines for phase one and two will be removed from the register. We will work closely with those who are not successful with applications to ensure apprentices are not impacted and can complete their end point assessments.

The Institute will start the transfer of standards covered by phase two from March 2022. They are already in the process of transferring for phase one.

All integrated degree apprenticeships are already regulated by the OfS. The Insitute is working closely with both the OfS and Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to enable their work to become fully integrated with the Institutes EQA framework. This will ensure that assessment for integrated degrees is closer aligned to how it works for all other apprenticeships.

The Institute will stop delivering EQA directly through the reform process but will continue to oversee the system, in line with our statutory responsibility, through our framework.  

We are setting up a new directory of professional and employer-led organisations for Ofqual and OfS to draw on industry expertise. This will keep employers at the heart of protecting quality in apprenticeships.

We can reassure end point assessment organisations that there will be knowledge transfer. EQA information is held centrally on the Institute’s information management system which Ofqual will use providing full access to previous reports.

You can listen to our podcast featuring Rob, Charlotte, and Jessica Lewis-Bell, senior manager of strategic relationships at Ofqual, advising on EQA transition here.

EPAOs can also book now on the FAB website for a series of quality clinics to support excellence in EPA and applications for Ofqual recognition.


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