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Testing, testing – achieving a successful apprentice end-point assessment

The introduction of the Government’s recent apprenticeship reforms is aimed at giving employers more control over designing, choosing and paying for apprenticeship training.  As part of this transition to a new system, an apprentice needs to attain full competency in an occupation, demonstrated by achievement of an Apprenticeship Standard. 

The introduction of end-point assessment (EPA) is part of this new vision for employer-led, Standards-based apprenticeships. Apprenticeships must be seen to be “high quality…and an apprenticeship assessment strategy must rigorously test whether the apprentice has achieved full occupational competence.”

The requirements for EPA are set out in the Assessment Plan for every new Apprenticeship Standard.
In this update, the next in the series, we take a look at the testing process which underpins the EPA for the four Apprenticeship Standards covered by SIAS, which designs and delivers the end-point assessment tests. SIAS deliver assessments for the following approved Apprenticeship Standards:

  • Laboratory Technician
  • Science Manufacturing Technician
  • Science Industry Maintenance Technician
  • Laboratory Scientist

The EPA can take a range of forms, depending on what is agreed by the Trailblazer Employer Group who have developed the particular Standard, and can include:

  • Exams
  • Tests
  • Assignments
  • Observation at work
  • Professional discussions
  • Portfolio of work
  • Assessment of work

Before the tests
At the start of their apprenticeship, the employer enrols their apprentice with SIAS and we’ll then send a competence evaluation log (CEL) to the employer (or their nominated training provider). The CEL is a summary record of the evaluation of competence that occurs throughout the apprentice’s training.  Once the CEL is complete, at the end of the training, a SIAS registered assessor will review and validate it. This is one of the gateway requirements that must be achieved alongside the mandated qualifications, including English & Maths at level 2, before EPA can happen.

Submission of a validated CEL plus evidence of the other gateway outcomes triggers the end-point assessment process, including the tests. 

About the tests
For the Standards covered by SIAS, there are four components to end-point assessment: a review of the behaviours evaluation log and a number of assessment tests. The tests are used to determine if the apprentice should receive the apprenticeship award.

  1. Synoptic Assessment Test (for level 3 Standards)
    The Synoptic Assessment Test (SAT) conducted in the workplace is designed to validate the apprentice’s competence by observing the candidate carrying out their job in a normal working environment, under normal conditions.  Synoptic essentially means the apprentice needs to be able to identify and use an appropriate selection of skills, techniques, concepts, theories, and knowledge from across their training in an integrated way.
  2. Primary journal article presentation (for higher level Standards)
    As part of their apprenticeship, the candidate carries out a workplace project which should take a minimum of 100 hours of work, with an additional 50 hours for project reporting.  The presentation is based on a primary journal article about the workplace project, prepared by the apprentice and submitted in advance, to an end assessment panel. Both the primary journal article and the presentation are graded.  
  3. Vocational competence discussion
    This is to determine how well the apprentice understands the requirements of their role and to explore understanding of areas not observed or explained during the SAT or primary journal presentation.  It covers the entire Standard. As the discussion is graded, Trailblazer employers have highlighted the areas of a Standard where the apprentice may wish to provide evidence to contribute to grading.
  4. Scenario Case Study
    This is to test the apprentice’s ability to apply industry standard transferrable skills, knowledge and understanding in a new situation. While the apprentice won’t be expected to know the particular scenario presented, they will be expected to demonstrate the correct approach to ensure work is conducted safely, whilst following quality systems and complying with regulations.