EPA qualifications: how will they help?

Apprenticeships

Demand for End Point Assessors

Much has been written about the new arrangements for assessing apprentices and how different this is, with “new skills” needed.

With large numbers of apprenticeship schemes already running, about to start, or in the process of being set up, the number of apprentices expected by the UK government can only grow. Despite some of the initial uncertainty earlier this year, there still appears to be the aspiration to have 3 million people on apprenticeship programmes by 2020, the funding of which will come (at least in part) from the new apprenticeship levy.

Many End Point Assessment Organisations (EPAOs) are recruiting at present and the number of End Point Assessors that will be needed, surely far exceeds the number of existing assessment professionals.

How different is EPA?

Whilst it is true that EPA generally uses a wider range of assessment methods than traditional assessment, the knowledge and skills needed are really only those included within the current “TAQA” suite of qualifications for assessors.

However, the particular context and often highly prescribed requirements within the apprenticeship standards, has given birth to a special qualification for End Point Assessors – the Award in Undertaking End Point Assessment.

How will gaining this new qualification help?

Given the likely future demand for assessors, there are some obvious advantages to gaining this qualification.  This new qualification provides existing assessment professionals a means to demonstrate their specific knowledge, understanding, and practice in this new context, and therefore enhance their credibility, standing and expertise while supporting the shift in focus towards apprenticeships.

Probably the greatest advantage though, given the number of new assessors that will be needed, is for those who are currently working as experts in their field, as it will help them to be able to:

  • learn about the principles of apprenticeships
  • learn about the principles of assessment and assessment methods
  • understand the importance, intentions and practice of EPA
  • identify the standards that apply to the Apprenticeship in their professional field
  • learn how to use the assessment methods required for the EPA of the apprenticeships in their professional field
  • show that they can use these methods effectively.

For these individuals, the new qualification is particularly appropriate as it will add to professional subject-matter expertise and the additional knowledge, understanding and practice of End Point Assessment.

Furthermore, getting qualified will also increase personal confidence and help raise credibility.  Organisations will surely also benefit with staff and associates having greater knowledge and understanding of apprenticeships and the related standards.

Maintaining the standard

The existing “TAQA” qualifications for assessors (for example Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement) are in some apprenticeship standards a requirement. These are valid within an EPA context, and therefore well worth gaining, regardless of whether they are noted in an apprenticeship standard.

For those apprenticeship standards that do not specify an assessment qualification as mandatory, EPAOs will still need to demonstrate that their staff have the required knowledge, understanding and practice in the context of apprenticeship assessment.

This will particularly include effectiveness in a range of assessment methods and approaches to robust record keeping and reporting, as included in the new EPA qualification.  Additionally, all of this will need to be demonstrated by EPAOs to their Quality Assurance organisations to help keep the value of apprenticeship to the high level to which the government aspires.

Consider getting qualified!

Whether you are an existing professional, a recently appointed End Point Assessor, or someone who may become involved with EPA, why not consider the advantage of gaining one or more of these important assessment qualifications?

Here at ATi we have been helping individuals and teams within organisations gain their TAQA assessment qualifications since their inception.  We are now proud to be one of the earliest providers of the new assessment qualification for End Point Assessors and are delighted to be able to support the growing apprenticeship initiatives.

Furthermore, for those working in, or aspiring to work within, the quality assurance arena – such as for qualification Awarding Organisations, or EPA Quality Assurance Organisations, you might like to consider becoming an External Quality Advisor.

Do check out our qualification pages or get in touch with us for an informal discussion about any of these qualifications – we are always interested in new ways we can help.

EPA SM graphic

End-Point-Assessment: demystified

End-Point-Assessment: demystified

There’s lots of ongoing discussion at the moment about End-Point Assessment, as the various apprenticeship schemes gather momentum under the guidance of the Institute for Apprenticeships.

As a Principal Consultant in the field of assessment and quality assurance, Chief EQA of a UK Awarding Organisation, Chief Executive and Writer, this is an interesting development that my colleagues and I are all watching closely.

One of the most striking things that seems apparent so far, is the confusion in some camps as to what End-Point Assessment or EPA actually is … and in what way it is the same or different from the more established assessment that we have all become used to.

Although I can see why EPA has been singled out for special attention, in practice it seems to me that it is only really a specific instance of normal assessment, undertaken under closely specified conditions.

Something Different? Something Special?

A big deal seems to be currently being made of End-Point Assessment as something different and something special. This is causing some anxiety and difficulty as more and more apprenticeships are launched.

To my mind, it is a pity that End-Point Assessment is being singled out in this way. Yes, it does have some differences from other assessments and could represent a big change for some, but only because the apprentice standards themselves have particular requirements.

That said, other professional recognitions and qualifications also have particular requirements and as long as it is clear to professional assessors what the particular requirements of the standards actually are, then ‘End-Point Assessment’ surely is only ‘Assessment’.

Why is End-point assessment different?

The assessment focal points have been determined by the Institute for Apprenticeships, the Approved End-Point Assessment Organisations, and the Standards for the specific industry-based apprenticeships.

It is these aspects that make End-Point Assessment a particular instance of assessment which relates specifically to the assessment of apprentices, within the Institute for Apprenticeships UK government-funded scheme.  The purported overall aim of this is so that employers have greater confidence in their apprentices competence.

However, because the Standards for each Apprenticeship are different, there is no one simple list of differences between End-Point Assessment and traditional Assessment, nor between End-Point Assessments for different Standards.

I do think there are some obvious common differences, which include:

  • End-Point Assessors must be independent and have had no prior contact whatsoever with the candidates (apprentices) that they are assessing
  • End-Point Assessors must be working for and on behalf of an End-Point Assessment Organisation which has been specifically authorised to assess one or more specific apprenticeship schemes
  • End-Point Assessors do not always have the freedom to select the assessment method by which they will make their assessment judgements. Many End-Point Assessment activities and assessment methods are specified in the apprenticeship standards, although there are some standards that do not specify in this way.
  • End-Point Assessors will only undertake the assessment activity at the end of an apprenticeship and are not free to choose to assess over a period of time as the apprentice develops their knowledge and skills.
  • an End-Point Assessment activity unless specified otherwise within the standards, is a single point assessment, a little bit like an MOT test for a vehicle.
  • End-Point Assessors will make a definitive decision on one-time assessment. Apprentices who do not pass are (within most Apprenticeship Standards) not offered an opportunity to resubmit just the element that has “failed”, in the way that traditional assessment will often facilitate and permit.
  • Most End-Point Assessment standards require grading according to a grading scheme specified in the Standard in use.

Getting qualified in End Point Assessment

As Apprenticeships schemes and End-Point Assessments are on the increase, many people new to the world of professional assessment are likely to become involved.  This is an exciting development and these people will need training, support and formal recognition as they become established in their new or special assessor roles.

After some consideration, ATi are now delighted to be able to offer the relatively new Level 3 Award in Undertaking End-Point Assessment.  This RQF qualification now forms part of our growing range of blended learning approaches that includes:

  • Award in Understanding the Principles and Practice of Assessment
  • Award in Assessing Competence in the Work Environment
  • Award in Assessing Vocationally-Related Achievement
  • Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement
  • Award in Undertaking End-Point Assessment

By using our own workbooks and accompanying additional reading materials, on-line webinars & seminars with adviser-assessor support, our programmes have been recognised as being highly-relevant and great value to professional assessors.  All have specific focal points for their assessment activity, just as different standards have specific focal point requirements.

To be considered a true assessor and have the credibility to progress further, I firmly believe that individuals should hold or be working towards formal recognition of their assessor skills by gaining one or more of the qualifications. At these times of national and global changes, this will help to maintain crucial standards within a multitude of sectors, assist in the development of well-rounded apprentices and of course recognise the professional status of assessors and quality assurers.

Free webinar and further information

To find out more about the new End-Point Assessment qualifications including how these compare with traditional assessment approaches, do join me for my short free webinar.

To find out more about EPA or any of ATi’s programmes above, please visit our qualification pages or contact us for an informal chat and straightforward answers to your questions.

 

EPA SM graphic

Notes to editors

ATi provide bespoke developmental and qualification programmes through both face-to-face and supported blended learning, including topics of assessment, internal/external quality assurance and train-the-trainer.  Please visit our various qualifications and course pages for further information.

This blog and content are the copyright of Accredited Training International.  Content can be quoted, extracted or shared with permission.  ATi do not accept responsibility for the content of external links that are outside of our control. For media enquiries, please email pr@accreditedtraininginternational.com

Building new assessors: now under construction

building-site

Have you noticed the amount of building work that is going on at the moment?

At the top of the hill as you leave my village, a new housing estate is quickly taking shape.  The development is a hive of activity and it all looks very interesting. As I pass the site on my cycle ride to the office each day, I’m intrigued by the many various aspects of construction allowing these new homes, warehouses and offices to come to life with architecture, planning, project management, brickwork, carpentry, roofing, plumbing, glazing, site management, health and safety…… the list goes on.

All these skilled people are working as one enormous team to ensure smooth running and good use of time and resources to achieve the end result. But of course, it’s not just about leadership and team working. One important aspect of any business is the quality assurance of the operation.

In terms of the construction industry, I know this can be especially difficult as the technical knowledge and background of each of the various skills and trades will have specific quality requirements and regulations, each one must be checked and verified against the appropriate and correct standards.

The need for qualified assessors to undertake these essential checks and confirm that teams and individuals are operating within the standards are obvious.   Back in March, during the latest budget statement, I was pleased to read that the Government are investing in new technical qualifications particularly to help and support young people in the area of construction.

Builder Using Cement Mixer On Building Site With Apprentices

Yesterday, I was delighted to see a recent press release from the Construction Industry Training Board recognising the amount of construction already being undertaken in the UK and that the numbers of qualified assessors would not be adequate to meet the needs.  Congratulations to CITB for their foresight in anticipation of current and future demand by providing some much-needed resources to support the industry, as it moves forwards.

Of course, assessing is also a professional skill which is needed not only in construction but in most walks of life – we see this regularly with those that register on our assessor training programmes from the large range of different industries in which our programme participants are working.

Like those who are constructing buildings, we like to build people skills, and are looking forward to supporting CITB’s initiative in building assessor and quality assurance skills within the construction sectors.

If you are working in construction, or perhaps part of the many crucial supporting trades and would like to become a qualified assessor, have a look at our latest course list and make contact with us to see how we can help.   Our courses are flexible with different options, so they can fit around busy site-going professionals.

 

Notes to Editors
ATi provide a full range of TAQA progammes and qualifications through supported blended learning and bespoke open programmes.  One of our most popular qualifications includes the Level 3 Award in Assessing Competence in the Work Environment.

Other Certifications in

Leadership & Management

Other Developments

About Us

Teaching Education & Training

Coaching & Mentoring

Accredited Training International