AELP has voiced long standing concerns about the scalability of end point assessment (EPA). To date the numbers of apprentices who have completed their end test are (at around 5,000) still relatively very small. In 2019 the numbers due to undertake their end test will see a significant ramp-up. Over time we can envisage them peaking about around 400,000-500,000 per annum if starts on apprenticeship recover to previously recorded levels.
One of the main issues underpinning concerns around scalability of EPA relates to the availability of competent end point assessors to conduct the testing. A key principle of EPA rests on the notion of the independence of the end point assessor to validate the skills, knowledge and competency of each apprentice. While ensuring this principle remains, we recognise a need for greater flexibility to ensure that EPA does not end in a ‘car crash’ situation.
AELP has developed guidance on ensuring end point assessor independence with key criteria which can be applied to any model of end point assessor recruitment and utilisation. The end point assessment organisations (EPAOs) responsible for delivering robust, quality and independent end point assessment are ultimately governed by the recognised external quality assurance organisations (EQAOs).
Ofqual is one of these EQAOs who currently have responsibility for a significant number of apprenticeship standards, while it also acts as primary regulator for qualifications and is recognised within the awarding body sector as the gold standard for quality assurance. Having developed this guidance, AELP asked Ofqual to review it and they are happy to state: “If End Point Assessment Organisations are offering a standard where Ofqual are the recognised external quality assurance organisation, then this guidance will be helpful advice in terms of interpreting Ofqual’s current conditions”.
We welcome this recognition and will be suggesting that the other EQAOs who have responsibility for quality assurance of apprenticeship standards adopt a similar practical approach to quality assurance.