Everything you ever wanted to know about end-point assessment
The introduction of end-point assessment (EPA) is one of the biggest changes to the apprenticeship landscape in England. It’s part of a new approach to ensuring a high quality apprenticeship system and is taking over from the framework- based model of continuous assessment, which results in a qualification/s.
Under this new approach, an apprentice must attain full competency in an occupation, demonstrated by achievement of an Apprenticeship Standard. Technical qualifications are no longer mandatory, although most employers still value them as part of an apprentice’s training.
EPAs are underpinned by an Assessment Plan designed by employers.
What is the role of the apprentice end-point assessment body?
SIAS, like other apprentice assessment bodies, designs and delivers the end-point assessment tests for the new Standards, which lead to the national apprenticeship award. SIAS works in partnership with employers and training providers in the sector to deliver assessments for the following approved Apprenticeship Standards:
- Laboratory Technician
- Science Manufacturing Technician
- Science Industry Maintenance Technician
- Laboratory Scientist
Registered apprentice assessment organisations such as SIAS must be completely independent from both the training provider and the apprentice’s employer. They also need to be on the new SFA Register of Apprentice Assessment Organisations (RoAAO).
When do EPAs come into force?
EPAs are now up and running, following the completion by several cohorts of apprentices of the new Standards. For example, the first cohort of apprentices on the new STEM standards, have recently achieved the apprenticeship standard and received their national certificate following EPA by SIAS.
All apprenticeship delivery will be based on new Standards and Assessment Plans by 2020. Changes to assessment processes are considerable and impact on delivery planning. Providers and employers are encouraged to get on board with the changes now, if they have not already done so.
What's in an Assessment Plan?
The requirements for end-point assessment are set out in the Assessment Plan for every new Apprenticeship Standard. This Plan sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required, as well as the assessment methods to be used to ensure the rigorous end-point assessment.
There are many possible elements to an EPA, and these are all clearly stated in the assessment plan that accompanies each standard. These might include an interview, being observed solving a work-place problem, a portfolio of work projects, a work diary, or a presentation to a panel of experts. The assessments chosen reflect the type of work undertaken.
Importantly, the plans for EPAs have been developed by leading employers from different sectors, as part of the work of the various Trailblazer Groups, who have come together to develop the new style Apprenticeship Standards.
When do EPAs happen?
The Assessment for the award of the Apprenticeship certificate is carried out at the very end of the Apprenticeship (hence the term end-point assessment) by an independent, registered apprentice assessment organisation such as SIAS.
Who is involved?
The Lead Provider – training providers of course have a central role, delivering the apprentice’s training and working closely with the employer to ensure the apprentice has achieved what they need to be able to do their job before they attempt the EPA. The provider also procures the EPA service from an apprentice assessment organisation selected by the employer.
The Host Employer - who will prepare and put their apprentices forward for the EPA. It’s important that the apprentice is put through the gateway only when their employer and training provider are content they have attained sufficient skills, knowledge and behaviours to achieve the end-point assessment.
The Apprentice Assessment organisation (i.e. SIAS) – we will issue the Competence Evaluation Log (CEL) to the candidate, provide a SIAS external assurer to run the assessment day, quality assure and confirm the outcome and apply for the certificate.
What is the process and timeline to get there?
It all starts with the Assessment Plan which sets out the required knowledge, skills and behaviours that need to be assessed at the end-point.
Then there is the training period.
Then the ‘Gateway’ – this embraces the completion of the suite of qualifications, training and achievements required to allow a candidate to attempt the end-point assessment.
This timeline is built around a planned end date, and highlights the need for forward planning from the outset.
About the tests
More detail on all the tests is included in the SIAS end-point assessment guide, which is issued to employers on registration of the apprentice with SIAS.