In the world of apprenticeship standards, the gateway is the door between the two core stages of the apprenticeship.
During stage one (on-programme), the knowledge, skills and behaviours of an apprentice are developed with the aim of being competent in their job role, as set out in the standard. The second stage is where the apprentice demonstrates that competence at end-point assessment, as set out in the assessment plan.
At gateway, the employer (often in consultation with the apprenticeship provider) unlocks the door because they believe the apprentice is competent in their job and ready and able to prove it.
Knowing when an apprentice is gateway-ready is much more than simply checking the apprentice has obtained all the mandatory requirements outlined in the assessment plan (although this is important). It’s about the employer being convinced that the apprentice is at the level of competence set out in the standard and are prepared for the end-point assessment, so they can claim that competency.
Let’s start with the mandatory gateway requirements
Mandatory requirements are different in each assessment plan.
Here are a few common examples:
- achievement of Level 1 English and mathematics and evidence of attempting a Level 2 test
- achievement of a required qualification such as a diploma
- completion of a workplace portfolio (sometimes completed in the final 12 weeks of the apprenticeship)
- a letter signed by the employer confirming readiness for end-point assessment
- self-assessment by the apprentice (or a checklist or statement)
- achievement of an accredited Health and Safety qualification
- achievement of the Care Certificate (in the case of adult social care standards)
It’s important that you are in close contact with the End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) from the beginning of the programme but especially in the run up to the gateway decision. Some training providers have wrongly assumed that the gateway is an opportunity to check with the EPAO whether the apprentice is ready for end-point assessment – this is not the case, and you won’t be able to submit evidence to the EPAO to check in advance. EPAOs will however, provide guidance on how mandatory gateway evidence should be collected and the process the apprentice will then go through.
Remember, the gateway is not the point where the employer feels the apprentice is guaranteed to pass, but the point where they feel that further training would not make the apprentice more end-point assessment ready. Holding back on readiness could have the reverse effect on the apprentice’s performance.
In some assessment plans, there may also be tasks that the apprentice needs to complete during the on-programme phase, or as part of the gateway period, which then will feed into the end-point assessment e.g. project, presentation, portfolio. (A lot more could be said here, so we’ll cover this in future blogs)
“Ok” you may ask, “but what about the apprentice’s level of competence?”
Four questions that show the apprentice is gateway-ready
As you reach the end of a programme of training, you will start to get a sense that the apprentice is ready – from your own professional judgement, from the employer’s point of view, and from the apprentice too.
It is at this point that you, with the employer, will need to start asking yourself a number of questions. Training providers take different approaches with their employers, but here are four questions that many providers are finding useful…
- Is there sufficient EVIDENCE that the apprentice is ready?
Is there a body of work you can reference that shows that the apprentice has consistently been working towards the standard and is familiar and comfortable with the assessment methods used at the end-point?
- Does that evidence show ACHIEVEMENT of the ELEMENTS?
Are you confident that there is evidence the apprentice has gained each knowledge, skill and behavioural element expected of them that could be assessed at the end-point?
- Is there a certainty that ACHIEVEMENT is at the LEVEL required?
Do you and the employer both feel that there isn’t just evidence the apprentice is ready, but that the apprentice can work in that occupation, at that level? (It’s important apprentice’s aren’t just being “trained to the test”)
- Do you consider the apprentice to be COMPETENT?
Once you are certain the above questions have been met – you should feel certain that the apprentice is competent and able to demonstrate that competency through the various assessment methods used during the end-point assessment.
It is at this point that you, the employer and the apprentice should know that an apprentice is ready for the gateway.
The employer will then be required to produce a letter that confirms they believe the apprentice is competent. The EPAO will then check the evidence ensuring the gateway requirements have been met, opening the door to the end-point assessment.
An in-depth look… (and other support)
SDN delivered a detailed 1-hour webinar on preparing apprentices for the gateway. You can obtain the recording here.
Other CPD webinars and training on delivering standards and end-point assessment can be found here, including developing and assessing behaviours, progress monitoring, the changing role of the IQA, off-the-job training, and more.