Apprenticeship Assessment: frequently asked questions
End point assessment (EPA)
Q) An apprentice is on a fixed-term contract which would ordinarily have given them enough time to complete the training and the EPA. If the training is delayed and they have not completed their EPA before they leave employment, can they do the EPA afterwards?
Apprentices must be employed when they are taking their EPA, so where a break in learning has been necessary, and the planned end-date for their apprenticeship has had to move back, they should speak to their employer and training provider. We would expect employers and training providers to work with apprentices to reschedule training, which may also include reviewing apprenticeship agreements and commitment statements. We will keep this under review as the situation evolves.
Q) What will happen if an apprentice is not well enough to take their EPA?
If an apprentice is unwell, or in a period of self-isolation, and unable to attend their EPA, they should contact their training provider as soon as they are able, to allow them maximum time to re-schedule the assessment.
Q) Can apprentices on furlough still take their EPA?
Yes, where apprentices are on furlough, they can sit their EPA providing that they meet the conditions for apprentices on furlough.
Where it is essential for workers to attend their workplace, EPA and FSQ assessment can be delivered in the workplace where that workplace meets ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines on ensuring the workplace is safe.
Q) Gateways are being delayed and the EPA cannot be completed in the required time frame. Can the EPA timeframe be extended due to the current disruption?
Apprentices who are deemed ready for assessment and cannot be assessed due to assessor illness or coronavirus related measures are allowed to take a break before taking their EPA and for the EPA to be rescheduled.
If the EPA timeframe needs to be extended beyond what is allowed in the assessment plan (where specified), EPAOs are responsible for agreeing extensions to EPA timeframes during the current disruption. EPAOs should work closely with EQA providers to ensure that quality of EPA is maintained. For apprentices whose gateway is being delayed, the training provider must report this as a break in learning in the ILR.
Q) Where the EPA plan states that assessment must be conducted face-to-face but cannot be under the current circumstances, can they be conducted remotely?
Where an assessment method requires face to face engagement, this can be conducted remotely, subject to the following conditions:
Arrangements are cleared in advance by the EQA provider.
The apprentice’s identity is verified.
Remote tests are supervised by an appropriately trained invigilator or assessor who: has the necessary qualifications, training or experience; and who has not been involved in the training, preparation or line management of the apprentice.
Appropriate technology and systems are in place.
The impact that remote assessment may have on apprentices is to be taken into consideration to ensure a fair and reliable assessment of occupational competence.
Where alternatives are not appropriate, a pause and rescheduling might be the only action. An extension of 12 weeks is allowable for those EPA plans where a time limit is specified from gateway to EPA. It is to be logged on and shared with EQA providers on a timely basis.
Q) How will invigilation of assessments be conducted remotely
Remote tests should be supervised by an appropriately trained invigilator or assessor who has the necessary qualifications, training or experience and who has not been involved in the training, preparation or line management of the apprentice.
Tests must only be carried out within a supervised and controlled environment and EPAOs must ensure that all testing meets security requirements and that the details of invigilators are recorded and available for confirmation by EQA providers.
Q) What will happen if an apprentice’s line manager has been furloughed and their employer is unable to confirm their readiness to take EPA with their training provider and EPAO?
If the person who would normally sign an apprentice off as ready to take their EPA has been furloughed and there is no suitable alternative, we support training providers to make the gateway decision. This temporary arrangement can only be relied upon where the provider can provide evidence to the EPAO that the apprentice has met the relevant gateway requirements and is ready to sit their EPA. Where this is not the case then the EPA should be rescheduled.
Apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to the assessment timeframe.
Q) If the current situation continues for a long period of time, would you consider awarding the apprenticeship without the EPA?
We would not consider this to be appropriate at the current time. Our intention is to safeguard the quality of apprenticeships and at this time we believe that the EPA is an important part of that. EQA providers have agreed flexibilities which apply to over 100 standards from Actuarial Technician to Senior Equine Groom to Adult Care Worker. These flexibilities have the potential to allow thousands of apprentices to undertake EPA, despite the current operating constraints
Q) How are the ESFA monitoring the number of cancelled and postponed EPAs?
EPAOs are an important element to delivering quality apprenticeships. In order to support them and the wider market to meet the future demand we have asked end-point organisations to complete a weekly return to the ESFA recording all coronavirus (COVID-19) related EPA cancellations.
We sent each organisation on the register of EPAOs a copy of the template return, which should be sent back to the apprenticeship assessment mailbox.
This information will help us to understand and manage the post coronavirus (COVID19) pipeline of apprenticeship assessment.
Q) We can deliver part of the EPA, but some sections require direct observation. How do we deal with these components?
These elements of the EPA will need to be rescheduled if they cannot be undertaken remotely. If the EPA timeframe needs to be extended beyond what is allowed in the assessment plan, the EPAO should seek agreement from the EQA provider. Where a specified assessment method for a specific standard might be adjusted without threatening safety and in a manner in which it meets the original intent, EPAOs should discuss this option with their EQA provider, who may refer it to the institute for authority. The substitution of assessment methods is not considered appropriate at this time.
With the prior authority of their EQA provider, assessments may be conducted in an appropriate simulated environment, such as a training facility.
Q) Can EPAs be staggered to ease pressure on EPAOs?
It is the responsibility of the end point assessment organisation to agree the schedule of EPA. The training provider should refer to the assessment plan for the apprenticeship standard to check if there is a time limit for the assessment taking place following gateway.
Where an EPA cannot be undertaken immediately, a pause and rescheduling might be the only action. An extension of 12 weeks is allowable for those EPA plans where a time limit is specified from gateway to EPA. It is to be logged on and shared with EQA providers on a timely basis
Q) Apprentices are ready for EPA but can't take it. Should they be paid more than the apprenticeship minimum wage now?
An apprentice is classed as an apprentice until they have taken their EPA. Apprentices must be paid at least the apprentice minimum wage, but an employer can choose to pay an apprentice more than this. All employers must comply with NMW legislation.
Functional skills requirements
Q) Will there be a requirement to go back and take the level 2 functional skills test after the apprenticeship has been achieved?
Studying and taking the test for intermediate apprentices is suspended until 31 March 2021, upon which time we will review this position. There will be no requirement for those apprentices who are passed through gateway to go back and take the level 2 functional skills test. However, If the apprentice would like to attempt the level 2 functional skills English and maths assessment, they should be allowed to do so. This shouldn’t be a barrier to them progressing to EPA, as the (optional) L2 FSQ assessment can be before, alongside or after EPA.
Q) What does this mean for the arrangement for gateway prior to EPA?
We want to make it as straightforward as possible to continue EPAs. Lifting the rule to take the test for intermediate (level 2) apprentices should help them to progress to EPA during the coronavirus (COVID-19) disruption.
Q) What about the level 2 English and maths exit requirements for level 3 and higher apprenticeships?
This requirement applies to intermediate (level 2) apprentices only. Apprentices undertaking a level 3 or higher apprenticeship are still required to hold or achieve an approved level 2 English and maths qualification before they can successfully complete their apprenticeship.