In this blog we provide a glimpse into integrated end-point assessment. We ask some challenging questions and provide useful tips to help you improve your quality assurance.
Timing is of the essence…
You’ll know that integrated apprenticeships require providers to deliver the on-programme teaching curriculum, as well as the end-point assessment (EPA). And we also know – particularly for those universities who align their apprenticeship provision to the academic year – that as you move towards the second semester, tutors will be supporting learners as they progress to end-point assessment for their integrated degree apprenticeships. So, it’s important that your team understands their role during EPA and that you have the right processes and people in place to quality assure your apprenticeships.
What is External Quality Assurance?
External Quality Assurance (EQA) has been a long-held discussion topic across the wider apprenticeships sector. The recent focus of which has been around the rigour of EQA arrangements for integrated degree apprenticeship standards.
Working across a wide range of universities has allowed SDN Associates to see the breadth of interpretations of the EQA framework for integrated degree apprentices, which has been brought about by the Designated Quality Body (DQB) in England on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS). Note, on the 8 February, the Department for Education (DfE) published an open consultation regarding the designated quality body in England, which will close on 3 March 2023.
What are the core areas that universities should be considering as they deliver integrated end-point assessments?
A great deal can be learnt from the different EQA approaches to end-point assessment and the application of EQA criteria within assessment activity. No matter how the EPA is externally quality assured, there are some core principles to consider, which go to the heart of good end-point assessment.
Does the end-point assessment meet requirements?
Planning for the delivery of an integrated end-point assessment may in many ways seem no different to other degree assessments. However, alignment to assessment plan and the inclusion of the full knowledge, skills and behaviours found in the apprenticeship standard needs to be carefully considered, alongside the need for separation from pre-gateway assessment activity.
Are your assessment materials “safe” and secure?
Each apprenticeship assessment plan provides basic guidance about the mandatory elements of the end-point assessment – what we might term day-to-day activity. Beyond this activity are the additional EQA expectations.
The biggest area that many providers find challenging, is around protecting access to the assessment materials from the tutors delivering the curriculum, to protect the integrity of the end-point assessment. So, it’s important that they don’t “teach to the test”.
Are you providing the right support to the right people at the right time?
Apprentices will always require a good deal of initial support to help them understand the complexities of EPA and what’s required of them. It can help to provide clear visual roadmaps, such as infographics, support guides, preparing cohorts through workshops or providing 1-2-1 support through tutor-led meetings.
Providing the right support at the right time improves apprenticeship success at EPA and embeds a positive apprentice experience. And there’s no limit to the benefits that this can bring.
Then there’s employers. You can’t take it for granted that employers understand apprenticeships for that matter, let alone the significance of the end-point assessment. It’s important that employers understand the relevance of the support and assessment materials and are given the opportunity to contribute to feedback loops. Why? Because it all contributes to delivering end-point assessments that are fit for purpose.
Can your feedback processes stand the test of scrutiny?
There is also the need to demonstrate the continual modification and fine tuning of assessment materials, based on genuine feedback, that takes into consideration the voices of the apprentice and employer.
You need to ensure you allow employers and apprentices to provide feedback on the support and knowledge they have received to prepare them for EPA, alongside the assessment materials, so your apprenticeships are quality assured.
Are your team fully prepared for the roles of “External Examiner” and “Assessor”?
In line with their usual regulatory compliance, universities are required to use an external examiner for integrated degree apprenticeships – this is often in addition to the newer separate role of EPA assessor. To add a further layer of complexity, the external examiner will need to undertake additional oversight and assurance activities that reach beyond the “normal” role.
Be warned, the role and requirements are different within integrated degree apprenticeships – the EPA assessors and external examiners will require specific training and CPD. End-point assessors will also need to have the right industry experience to add practical context to theory. While you may have some good people already onboard, it’s important to provide the right training and ongoing CPD, especially around the different elements of the EPA, which range from professional discussions, to written projects and interviews. And having a pool of well-trained assessors and external examiners that you can draw from, not only improves quality assurance, but also mitigates risk.
Squaring the assessment circle
The final point asks you to also consider the challenges of any differences between the academic degree classification requirements and those in the assessment plan. For example, could an apprentice pass a degree end-point assessment module with a mark of 45%, but not the EPA, which requires a minimum 50% pass mark?
About the author
This blog has been written by Emily Hughes a Senior Associate of SDN. Emily is Founder and Managing Director of Evoko. She holds an MA in Work-Based Learning and has over 20 years’ experience in delivering, assessing and management across the skills education, training, and apprenticeships sector, drawing on a range of roles within universities, colleges, and independent training providers. She works extensively across the sector and has a strong track record in supporting organisations to develop and refine their offer.
For more support around 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
For enquiries about 1-2-1 consultancy please contact firstname.lastname@example.org