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.

 

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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

Coaching, Performance Management and Reflecting on Reflections

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It has been delightful working with two groups of senior civil servants from the Indonesian Government over the last three weeks. They had come to the UK to explore issues of Strategic Performance Management and Coaching and Mentoring for Trainers. It has been a pleasure for ATi to host these delegates, these programs again running in partnership with Middlesex University Business School.

As well as supporting our delegates to further enhance their subject knowledge, one of the things that we particularly focused upon was the importance of reflections. It occurred to me that as English was not their first language, from time to time some individuals used an online dictionary to check the meaning of words – “reflections” being potentially quite ambiguous.

Take the idea of reflections being what you see when you look in the mirror. This was appropriate as one of the focal points of their training was to encourage people to look at themselves in terms of their actions, skills, knowledge, approaches, behaviours, and emotional control (my ‘ASK ABE’ model, published back in 2007). This work quite well, although culturally this is something that does not come naturally to individuals in South East Asia, where people are often more interested in the relationships with other people than in examining themselves. Reflections in a mirror therefore fits quite well with looking internally to see what actions could enhance each individual and their interpersonal behaviour and performance.

Reflections can also be taken to mean reviewing. In this sense we were encouraging people to review the systems and processes policies and procedures and the way in which these were utilised in their organisation to look for the strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats in order that they might identify areas that could be changed to optimise their operations.

Reflections can also be considered an important part of many religious faiths – reflecting on the world at large, life in general, and the current situation and context of the individual and groups. The majority of our guests were of the Muslim religion, and it was very clear, especially as Friday prayers were approaching, that reflection would form an important part of their prayer meetings.

Each Friday for our groups we allowed some additional time in the afternoon following Friday prayers for training programme and workplace reflection. We did not specify, however, where this should take place. For our guests this was mainly their first visit to the UK, and whatever spare time they had was taken in sightseeing and shopping. A new meaning was added to my idea of reflections when one of our participants told me they were going to reflect as they walked around, and that they had a number of shopping bags with them in which to put their “reflection notes”!

So what is reflection? There are many writers providing self-help books, life coaching books and online processes for CPD, all referring to reflection. For me reflection is about looking at what has recently occurred and asking myself – What happened? Why did that happen? Was this good or could it have been better? What needed to happen to improve or enhance it? What were the key points that I learnt from it? How could I use this learning to be more effective next time this or something very similar crops up?…… and so on.

Michael Jackson had it about right with his 1988 hit Man in the Mirror (lyrics by Garrett and Ballard), that clearly sends the message “…if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change”. I too firmly believe that change starts within.

And then of course, ideally we should reflect on reflections…… Thinking about how well did we just reflect? Did we genuinely pick out the good the bad and the ugly from recent activities? Did we truly look at the learning points? Did we really take the time to examine a range of options to enhance this next time? Did we make notes or something similar to be sure that next time the activity occurs we really did learn from last time? Or were we simply reflecting in passing whilst shopping or sightseeing?   And, of course, for those who must keep or like keeping CPD records, how has this reflection been recorded?

Ultimately we all need to reflect effectively, and reflecting on our reflection skills must surely therefore fall into the categories of essential life skills as well as management skills.

So what are your reflections on my thoughts? More importantly, what have you learnt from this, and how will you use this learning?  All our participants seem to gain significantly from their visit to Middlesex University in London and I’d like to thank all my ATi and University colleagues and associates for their hard work and contributions to the programme. We all wish our new friends in the Indonesian Civil Service the very best of luck with the challenges that lie ahead!

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