End-point assessment (EPA) is high stakes. Although EPA has become an embedded part of our apprenticeship system, understanding the impact of EPA on the apprentice’s learning journey and what contributes to their success is an important consideration for providers.
From meticulously evaluating job roles for alignment with standards to crafting individual learning plans and seeing the apprentice through the gateway phase, every step you take is a crucial link in the chain of producing skilled and competent professionals who succeed at EPA.
In this blog, we’ll explore how EPA shapes the on-programme training and your role as a trainer (teacher/tutor/coach).
As providers will know, the job role must allow the apprentice to develop ALL the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) outlined in the apprenticeship standard and assessment plan. Determining these upfront is vital to make sure the apprenticeship is the most appropriate form of training for the individual. Equally important is the need to communicate this to employers upfront and get their buy in. The number of apprentices who hit a roadblock by their line manager, because they don’t have exposure to develop all the required KSBs, is a significant reason for apprentices struggling to pass end-point assessment.
Holistic initial assessment
When apprentice’s drop off programme or struggle at EPA, there can often be a link back to inadequate initial assessment. Conducting robust initial assessments – moving beyond a simple process for compliance purposes – that picks up the holistic needs of each apprentice will lay a strong foundation. Make sure the outcomes of initial assessments are being used by tutors/trainers to shape the learning plan for each apprentice. Understanding the support apprentice’s need early on will increase the likelihood of apprentices staying on programming and passing EPA.
Holistic curriculum design
Think about the way you design your curriculum – rather than simply designing a learning programme that ticks off individual KSBs, does it give apprentices opportunity to develop their KSBs in a holistic way and in sufficient depth, so they are well-prepared for end-point assessment.
For example, you may support apprentices to develop a particular skill, which then forms part of their evidence for EPA. But have you spent time, as part of the curriculum, helping them to understand why that skill is important, why it should be conducted a certain way, and how it links to knowledge and behaviours? If not, apprentice’s will struggle to articulate this in professional discussions or interviews.
The role of the employer
Employers play an important role in reinforcing learning on-the-job, in a way that can specifically help to prepare apprentices for the end-point assessment. Do the employers you work with have a good understanding of what the end-point assessment looks like and how their role can help apprentices prepare? How are you, as a trainer, build this into your progress review meetings with the apprentice and employer? How might this be reflected in the targets you set?
Gateway and preparation for EPA
There are two important questions to ask as the apprentice draws to the end of their programme. Are they competent in the job role (including the KSBs)? Are they familiar with what they will face at end-point assessment to demonstrate their competence?
The question of competence isn’t always a straightforward one. How do you measure this? Here are four questions we encourage providers to ask – make sure you discuss and triangulate this with the employer and apprentice too:
- Is there sufficient EVIDENCE that the apprentice is ready?
- Does that evidence show ACHIEVEMENT of each ELEMENT?
- Is there a certainty that ACHIEVEMENT is at the LEVEL required?
- Do you consider the apprentice to be COMPETENT?
You, the apprentice and employer may say “yes” to all these questions. So now you need to ask – does the apprentice have the knowledge and confidence to demonstrate this at end-point assessment? Which KSBs will they need to evidence in which assessment method? How might you create mock assessments and practice opportunities to prepare them for what they will experience on the day of EPA?
For some – many perhaps – the advice and examples given below will be things you have considered already. But take the chance to review those apprentices who do not pass end-point assessment first time, or who drop off programme early. Where might some of these areas be contributing factors?
For more support around preparing apprentices for EPA, take a look at our Level 3 Award in undertaking end-point assessment. This online course is now open to all – irrespective of whether you hold an assessment qualification. SDN has helped many EPAOs (and their assessor teams) currently delivering end-point assessment and have a cutting-edge insight into what end-point assessment looks like in practice.
Here’s what the course covers:
- Understand the principles and practices of end-point assessment as part of an apprenticeship standard
- Understand different types and methods of end-point assessment
- Know how to plan end-point assessments in line with the apprenticeship standard and assessment plan
- Be able to make end-point assessment decisions
- Understand quality assurance of the end-point assessment process
Take a look at our event page for more apprenticeship CPD.
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