Getting to grips with assessment plans can provide clarity for on-programme trainers. They aren’t just there to support EPAOs to plan their assessment strategy, they are also to be used by practitioners to develop their on-programme training curriculum.
So… how do you decode the plan? SDN Strategic Associate, Chris Cherry, provides five steps to help you fine tune your training approach and get the best outcomes for your learners.
Let’s start with the basics…
First off, we know that apprenticeships assessment plans are variable and can be hard to decipher, but don’t throw in the towel – laying strong foundations and understanding how your apprentices will be assessed is fundamental to delivering outstanding training.
If you are struggling to make sense of the document, ask EPAOs for guidance. Some EPAOs will provide guidance for free, others will wait until your apprentices have been booked with their organisation. Either way, EPAOs are a source of support that can help you interpret the assessment plan so you can start tweaking your training to better meet the needs of your apprentice.
1. Look at how the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) link together
When reading the KSB statements in the apprenticeship standard do you notice any dependencies? Often you can’t really acquire one set of skills, before first acquiring an underpinning skill. Understanding how KSBs depend on one another will help sequence training provision efficiently. You could produce a KSB tree or matrix to help you plan learning strategies.
2. Which KSBs are assessed by which end-point assessment method(s)?
Has the employer group that created the standard unpicked the KSBs and netted them together? For example, the assessment plan may specifically list K1, K2 and K3 as being assessed by a multiple-choice questionnaire. This helps you develop the curriculum plans, schemes of work and on-programme assessment methods to gather evidence that your apprentice is preparing adequately for the end-point. You might need to hunt in any appendices for the answers. Some employer groups have also developed ‘occupational briefs’, which puts a bit more flesh on the bones (hosted on various employer body websites e.g. People 1st, Skills for Care).
3. What do you think a ‘pass’ looks like?
By looking at the assessment method, are you clear in your own minds eye what your apprentices would need to demonstrate to pass? Can you visualise what a competent apprentice would be able to do day-in and day-out. Think about that end goal of competency, when developing training for each apprentice. There may be grading criteria to guide you, but your experience is key here.
4. What are the higher skills in the assessment plan?
End-point assessors are likely to focus on assessing higher level skills – in particular, skills that could not have been achieved without first gaining a thorough understanding of the basics. These are at the end of the sequence of dependencies. Many plans specifically instruct EPAOs to focus on these higher level areas.
If apprentices can demonstrate they have acquired the higher skills, the end-point assessor can be confident they have developed all skills required to reach that point. Practising higher skills regularly will help prepare apprentices for their end-point assessment and could be the difference between a pass, merit or distinction.
5. How can you replicate the assessment look and feel during the apprenticeship?
Resist the temptation to train to the test. Think about how the requirements of the assessment can be incorporated into the apprentice’s every-day experience. There will be naturally occurring opportunities where you can put the apprentice in a similar scenario to their end point assessment.
For example, this might be a presentation they could deliver as part of a team meeting or to a group of clients, rather than delivering to you as a trainer in a staged exercise. Real life experiences create the same feeling they will have at end-point assessment and better prepare them for their future career. It really helps.
Getting to grips with end-point assessment methods?
If you’d like more thorough advice on end-point assessment methods, why not watch a recording of our free Getting to Grips with EPA Methods webinar, run in partnership with Protocol.
Alternatively, book onto our Level 3 Undertaking End-Point Assessment course. This course is led by Chris Cherry and will give you and your team much more than a qualification, but a true understanding of the end-point assessment process – helping you both as a potential end-point assessor and a trainer delivering apprenticeship standards.
Visit the Undertaking End-Point Assessment course page for details or email us if you’d prefer us to deliver in-house to a cohort of your staff.