As an organisation that provides up-to-date CPD to the apprenticeship sector, we get asked many questions from front-line staff eager to better navigate apprenticeship standards. Below is a series of popular questions on apprenticeship funding rules and governance that we thought we’d ask SDN Senior Associate, David Lockhart-Hawkins (our compliance and funding expert), to answer…
If providers hold back putting learners through their End-Point Assessment, because they aren’t ready, how will this impact on funding rates and timely achievement?
Funding wise, the completion payment will be delayed. This payment is only drawn down when EPA has been completed (pass or fail) and you record a completion status and record an actual end date in the ILR. This might have reduced impact, as in theory, you might not yet be paying out for EPA.
Timely achievement is not a criterion for standards in the view of ESFA in 2018-19, however from an Ofsted perspective you would want to have a clear understanding of why learners are not ready. If this is the fault of the provider, i.e. poor planning of curriculum and you have not taken account of this in your quality improvement plan it would not be looked upon as good. If EPA delay is the fault of EPAO resourcing, then ensure you keep records to demonstrate how you have contracted at an appropriate date.
Is there any guidance from government about the impact Brexit might have on apprenticeship funding?
Currently, there is no publicly available Government guidance. However, apprenticeship funding is a UK policy, rather than an EU policy. Therefore, on leaving the EU, it is likely that funding for apprenticeships will continue to be raised through the apprenticeship levy.
From a learner eligibility perspective, the ESFA’s funding rules update in March stated guidance would be issued in due course after the EU exit.
How are GDPR breaches affecting End-Point Assessment evidence and leading to failed EPA?
This was an issue raised by our friend Thomas Burton at NOCN. One of the examples Tom gave at the SDN Conference was where apprentices had submitted a project (to be assessed at the end-point assessment) which included confidential client data and wasn’t in line with GDPR practices, relevant in that standard. This is automatically a fail. It’s important that both the EPAO and training provider provide the apprentice (and their employer) with clear guidance on meeting the requirements of GDPR.
Can the apprenticeship levy be used for EPA resits to improve final grade or if the resit exceeds the funding band?
The employer negotiates a contract of service with an EPAO. The employer is within their rights to ask that the price includes a re-take (includes further learning) or a re-sit (does not include further learning) if the apprentice fails first time, but it is up to the individual EPAO whether they offer this.
If the original combined training and EPAO price did not exceed the maximum funding band, theoretically, you can agree with the employer and amend the EPAO price, and funds up to the maximum funding band would be drawn down. Any value above this and it would be full cost recovery.
Apprentices that pass first time, but want to improve their grade, are not eligible for re-sits or re-takes.
Are the standards reviewed and changed if there are multiple apprentices failing due to difficulty of the standards?
Apprenticeship standards are regularly reviewed with an opportunity to amend the assessment plans. These reviews are employer-led and overseen by a route panel of employer experts. Ultimately, it is up to these employers to decide whether multiple apprentices failing is cause for change or if that would undermine the integrity of the profession by passing apprentices that (in their view) aren’t yet competent.
Are the IfATE route panels now full and representative of each of the sectors they represent? Will there be future recruitment to them if not?
The personnel on route panels change over time. An open recruitment process takes place annually in May/June and is open to any candidate who meets the criteria for the role. Open recruitment is primarily aimed at developing a pipeline of prospective members that enables the IfATE to fill future panel vacancies as soon as they arise.
More information on route panels can be found on the FENews website.
Would inclusion on the RoEPAO for a level 4 or 5 come under the remit for Ofsted inspection?
End-Point Assessment does not come under the remit of Ofsted at any level. Ofsted is responsible for inspecting the quality of apprenticeship training provision, not assessment.
The quality assurance of EPAOs is conducted by a number of External Quality Assurance Bodies (EQABs), approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE). These include Ofqual, employer-led bodies, professional bodies and the IfATE themselves (through Open Awards). The EQA body is referenced in each assessment plan. The full list of EQA bodies can be found here:
Does delaying EPA have an impact on apprentices on fixed term contracts?
Potentially yes. Apprentices must have an apprenticeship agreement with their employer outlining the expected dates which the apprenticeship training and end-point assessment is set to take place. It is a funding rule that the original employment contract in place must cover this timeframe. Beyond that you’re into employment law territory.
Most providers are now ensuring any fixed term contracts cover a longer period in case of EPA delay or changes of circumstances. Essentially in the Apprenticeship Agreement an employer has agreed to employ the apprentice to the end of their end-point assessment. To complete, an apprentice must hold ‘apprenticeship status’ and be employed until taking their end-point assessment.
If an apprenticeship assessment plan is revised whilst an apprentice is on programme – will their EPA test them against the new plan or the one in place when they started the apprenticeship?
The one that was in place at the start. When booking an EPA, you should ensure you make the EPAO aware of the date of start and the version of the standard the apprentice was on at that time, unless there is specific guidance that the standard was withdrawn.
Is there an expected success rate for apprenticeship standards set?
In 2017-18, there was a minimum expected success rate of 62%. However, actual results were significantly below. As such, there has been a recently updated intervention policy that states ‘Reformed apprenticeship measures require a more fundamental review as we move from frameworks to standards. We will apply the current Minimum Standards policy to apprenticeship provision (all ages) in 2020 (academic year 2019 to 2020), based on 2018 to 2019 data.’
Do all apprenticeships need achievement of an accredited Health and Safety qualification?
No. If there is not clear health and safety criteria in the standard and assessment plan, the training is not fundable.
If you need further insight or clarification on apprenticeship rules and governance, and how they impact on your curriculum design, initial assessment, processes, systems and training delivery – contact the head office about our range of consultancy support.