Charlotte Bosworth, Managing Director, Innovate Awarding

I started my own End Point Assessment (#EPA) journey when I joined Innovate Awarding (@Innovate_Awards) as Managing Director in June 2017, so this feels like an ideal place to start my reflections:

The Institute for Apprenticeships was just being formed

When I look back The Institute for Apprenticeships - IFA (now The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education IFATE) had just being formed and ESFA were clear on the expectations of EPA.

This expectation was to independently assess the knowledge, skills and understanding of an apprentice to ensure they are occupationally competent.

I managed to locate a video by Janet Ryland from ESFA speaking with FE News in March 2017 where she was clear it was critical that End Point Assessment Organisations (EPAO) had proven assessment expertise coupled with assessors who had up to date occupational understanding.

The message was very clear – you shouldn’t go into becoming an EPAO lightly.

Janet Ryland went on to say:

“A lot of preparation is required, along with the infrastructure and assessment expertise.

"You have to be focused on Quality to meet the bar – this is fundamental to meeting the criteria”

At this time the register of EPAOs had 40 approved organisations covering 80 apprenticeship standards. Fast forward to October 2020 and the register currently hosts 306 EPAOs across 595 standards.

I will come back to this point later as we consider quantity vs quality.

Understanding Assessment Plans

So back to 2017. As someone who has worked in assessment since 1996 and with a team who have worked in Awarding Organisations for many years, I felt we were well equipped to enter into this new unknown world of EPA, but I am the first to admit, it presented us with challenges that we hadn’t necessarily experienced previously.

  1. The first being our interpretation of assessment plans. In the early days, plans had been written in a way which made it difficult to fully understand the requirements on areas such as grading, duration of assessments and mode of assessments – this led to concerns on consistency, particularly where we had multiple EPAOs.
  2. The second area of challenge was defining the EPA Journey and responsibilities of a Provider and EPAO once Gateway had passed – who should take ownership of the Apprentice?

Forwarding to 2020, we have certainly seen a vast improvement in the way assessment plans are written and the roles of both the Provider and EPAO have been clearer as we have learnt together ‘on the job’.

Ensuring Assessor Capacity and Availability

We then fast forward a year to 2018 when reality really hit. This is when assessments for EPA started taking place – albeit in small volumes. This is where our next set of hurdles to overcome arose.

It was really hard to get visibility of when apprentices would be entering into Gateway so planning to ensure assessor capacity and availability became a hot topic amongst EPAOs and the wider community.

We also started having External Quality Assurance visits and it was clear that a single approach was not being taken to quality assurance across EQA Organisations (or EQAPs as we love an acronym in this sector).

So how are we faring now? It would be fair to say that visibility of apprentices remains a problem when planning for EPA and is an area we still need to focus on when working with Providers.

On a positive note, the introduction of the EQA Framework and the decision to have Ofqual and Office for Students (OFS) as the EQAPs for Apprenticeships has certainly been welcomed by many EPAOs.

Quantity vs Quality

2019 the year where EPA volume started ramping up as well as volume of standards approved and EPAOs on the register. As volumes increased this highlighted where some assessment components within assessment plans were not fit for purpose and some of the processes to support these were not workable.

Reviews of such assessment plans started taking place and we have seen improved quality of later plans that have clearly taken learnings into consideration.

What we still need to work on and improve is version control when reworked versions of assessment plans come on board. What is the channel for this? How do we ensure consistency of application?

One I hope Ofqual will be able to support on as Apprenticeships standards transition to them.

Transition of EQA to Ofqual and OFS

So that brings me to the here and now 2020. I am not going to focus on flexibilities to assessments or the wider implications of the pandemic but areas that are currently at the forefront of my mind when looking at the wider EPA arena.

This year we will see transition of EQA to Ofqual and OFS and whilst this welcomed but what does this mean to those EPAOs who are not currently regulated and how do we support the retention of quality and the understanding of the commitment to working within a regulated market?

I think many are focused on the volume of EPAOs where I think the question should go back to the original intention as detailed by ESFA – It is critical that EPAOs have assessment expertise and assessors to ensure occupational competence.

Is this the current state of play when we review those on the EPAO register?

The Future of Apprenticeships

A number of standards are being reviewed at present – how do we ensure this is controlled whilst allowing innovation and control? And lastly a recent consultation took place on the funding of Apprenticeships including EPA – how do we ensure the true costs of delivering high-quality EPA is understood?

It has been a journey which has been full of challenge, but also reward, particularly when we hear positive stories from apprentices and employers and we continue to learn and improve to provide a better EPA experience.

We do still have areas to improve and challenges to overcome and if you would like to hear more about how I am working with others to raise these and promote that improvement, please join me on the EPA stage at The Future of Apprenticeships conference on 5th November where I will be joined by the IFATE, ESFA, Ofqual as well as other EPAOs to discuss these topics.

Charlotte Bosworth, Managing Director, Innovate Awarding

Charlotte Bosworth is a co-anchor on the EPA stage at the Future of Apprenticeships Conference on 5th November.

Fe News media partner

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page