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End point assessment organisations given more time to apply for Ofqual recognition

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End point assessment organisations (#EPAO) needing to attain @Ofqual recognition within the external quality assurance (EQA) transition programme have been given more time. 

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) updated on plans to move to a new simplified system for EQA of apprenticeship end point assessment (EPA) back in February this year.

The first phase of changes will see EQA delivered by Ofqual or, for integrated degree apprenticeships, the Office for Students (OfS).

As part of the commitment to take a flexible and pragmatic approach to planning, Ofqual, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the Institute have now agreed to extend the timeline to ensure:

  • the needs of apprentices are prioritised.
  • all organisations have a fair opportunity to re-apply for recognition following an initial feedback meeting and to give those organisations time to address the feedback they have received from Ofqual.
  • the maintenance of effective EQA oversight.

Revised timetable for EPAOs currently subject to the Institute-provided EQA service (Phase 1):

EPAOs whose most recent application to Ofqual was unsuccessful and who have had their feedback meeting (or refused this opportunity) by 18 October, are now expected to be able to resubmit a final revised application no later than 29 November 2021.

For EPAOs who have their first application submitted to Ofqual and are awaiting the result, all these results will be processed and EPAOs will have received their feedback meeting from Ofqual no later than 12 November 2021. 

If the application is unsuccessful these EPAOs will be expected to resubmit a revised and final application as soon as possible and no later than 7 January 2021.  It is the intention that Phase 1 conversions (EPAOs who are subject to the Institute-provided service) will be complete by 16 May 2022.

For EPAOs whose EQA provider service is delivered by a professional body (Phase 2 of the transfer programme), first applications should be submitted by 16 May 2022 and the transfer process will be concluded by 31 Dec 2022. 

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For those EPAOs who are already recognised by Ofqual, and are expanding their scope to include other standards, please continue to submit these as soon as possible. Ofqual will confirm expansion decisions no later than 16 December 2021.

For EPAOs that have not successfully achieved Ofqual recognition within the agreed timelines, the ESFA will begin the process of removing them from the register of end-point assessment organisations. The ESFA will contact those organisations to explain the process of removal, which will be focussed on ensuring the least possible disruption to apprentices and their employers.  Removal from the register will not begin prior to 16 December 2021.

EPAOs removed from the register will be welcome to reapply for Ofqual recognition and the ESFA register at a later date.  EPAOs may also consider applying for Ofqual recognition after their second attempt if needed.

All EPAOs, whether Phase 1 or 2, should submit their applications as soon as possible rather than work to the final deadline so that Ofqual can schedule assessments effectively.  Any organisation that feels that exceptional circumstances influence their ability to meet the above timelines should approach Ofqual directly.

EQA Billing:

In accordance with previous announcements, billing for the Institute cease directly providing EQA at midnight 15 December 2021.

EPAOs will be expected to honour payments incurred up to this date and also ensure that the is no deferral of EPA for Apprentices prior to this date.  The ESFA and Institute will be monitoring that Apprentices are not disadvantaged in this manner.

Support arrangements:

Ofqual will separately be publishing details of the support they will be continuing to make available to EPAOs during the recognition approval process and the adaptations they are making to assist the maximum number of EPAOs to be successful at the earliest opportunity whilst maintaining standards.

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