What is an apprenticeship?
Support for end-point assessors
End-point assessment (EPA)
Examples of EPA activities
An apprenticeship is a job with training. It enables someone to develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to perform effectively in a particular occupation. This is defined in the apprenticeship standard (scroll down the page for more information about standards). An apprenticeship is not a qualification, but the apprentice will receive a certificate upon successful completion. The programme might include a relevant qualification if this is part of the standard; for example, maths and/or English. If so, the qualification must be achieved before the end of the apprenticeship programme.
Apprenticeships (in England) aim to:
give employers control in designing the apprenticeship programmes for a particular occupation
increase the flexibility of delivery
simplify the funding system
increase the effectiveness of training.
Apprentices are aged 16 or over and will have a contract of employment. They will be employees of the company which takes them on. They must be paid at least the appropriate rate of the minimum wage for the duration of their apprenticeship, although many employers pay more.
Apprenticeship programmes must last a minimum of 12 months, with 20% of the time as structured off-the-job training (for example one day per week at a college or a training centre - known as on-programme training).
On-programme training is learning which is undertaken outside the normal day-to-day working environment and contributes towards the achievement of the apprenticeship.
Although this can include training that is delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work, it must not be delivered as part of their normal working duties.
The on-programme training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship standard.
The apprentice must be knowledgeable and competent in their occupation before end-point assessment (EPA) takes place.
There are not many text books, but those that are available are shown below.
Resources to support teachers and learners of the end-point assessment qualification can be found by clicking here.
Online CPD modules for end-point assessors can be found by clicking here.
Videos can be seen by clicking here.
Online guides are available from the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education.
Information and guidance from the Education and Training Foundation is available at the following links:
A traineeship is a skills development programme for 16 to 25 year olds who have an education, health and care (EHC) plan. The programme includes a work placement and can last from 6 weeks up to one year (although most will last for less than 6 months).
Traineeships help learners to get ready for an apprenticeship programme or a job, if they don’t have the appropriate skills or experience.
There is a government webpage with a list of providers, which can be used by young people looking for a traineeships and by employers looking to offer a traineeship.
Apprenticeships are developed by trailblazer groups. These are groups which:
have a wide range of employers who are committed to working actively on the development of a new apprenticeship standard, and intend to use the apprenticeship standard once it’s been approved for delivery
have at least 10 different employers as members (in addition to any professional bodies and trade associations, who want to be involved)
reflect the range of companies which employ people in the occupation – including size, geographical spread and sector. Any trailblazer group should normally include at least two employers with fewer than 50 employees.
An assessor-coach (also known as an assessment practitioner) is someone who trains and assesses an apprentice during their time working towards the apprenticeship standard. They are not an end-point assessor. For example, a supervisor who coaches someone on a one-to-one basis in their place of work prior to assessing their progress. The apprentices achievements will be assessed by the EPA process (scroll down further).
Coaching is about providing practical training and support, usually on-the-job. You can then assess the apprentice once they have had sufficient practice at carrying out the task. You might also carry out mock assessments in advance of the EPA process, and assess the apprentice as part of a qualification they are working towards.
Coaching could occur with more than one apprentice at the same time, perhaps if two or three members of staff need to learn how to perform a particular function. It’s useful to treat the coaching role in a similar way to a teaching or a training role. For example, it’s a good idea to carry out an induction and an initial assessment, and to agree a few ground rules. Apprentices should be encouraged to think for themselves, reach their own decisions and set their own action points whenever possible. Coaching sessions should always end on a positive note, with everyone knowing what will happen next.
If coaching is part of your role, you will need to agree a plan with your apprentice regarding what will be done and when. The plan can be updated as your apprentice progresses. However, coaching could occur spontaneously as the need arises. You should be able to use your professional skills and knowledge to support the vocational and professional development of your apprentices, wherever this might occur.
Each apprenticeship training programme will have an apprenticeship standard, produced by the trailblazer group for the particular occupation.
The standard will be used by the person training the apprentice on behalf of an organisation which is on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers to ensure all aspects are met.
They are different to National Occupational Standards (NOS) which are statements of the standards of performance that individuals must achieve when carrying out functions in the workplace. NOS include underpinning knowledge and understanding of the job role.
The apprenticeship standard outlines details of:
the occupation/job profile
the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to perform the job role
the level of the programme and the typical time allowed to achieve it
whether any qualifications are also included which must be achieved prior to the apprentice taking the end-point assessment, along with any other subjects such as English and maths
links to relevant professional association registration and progression (if applicable)
when the standard will be reviewed.
The standard should not be treated like a list which is ticked off when the apprentice has achieved something. This is often referred to as the tick box culture, i.e. ticking things off and then moving on to something else. Whilst the apprentice might feel they have achieved something, they might not be able to competently do it again in a month’s time, or when they will be formally assessed (by end-point assessment) at the end of their training programme. The apprentice will need to demonstrate their competence over time, not just on one occasion.
You can view various apprenticeship standards here.
Learning and Skills Teacher apprenticeship
There is an apprenticeship standard for teachers in the learning and skills sector which you can see here. It was updated in January 2023, however, it might change again at some point. At the moment, the programme is a minimum of 12 months (but typically 18 months) of on-the-job training, with 20% of the time being off-the-job training. English and maths at level two must be obtained before or during the programme.
Assessment is at the end of the programme and includes observations of practice, a professional discussion, and a portfolio of evidence. The assessment plan can be accessed here.
Grading is fail, pass or distinction.
In England, the term assessment plan for an apprenticeship programme is not the same as an assessment plan for a learner working towards a qualification. An apprenticeship assessment plan outlines the way in which the full programme will be delivered, assessed and quality assured for a particular occupation. It might or might not also include a relevant qualification. If it does, the normal qualification requirements of formative and summative assessment will apply which can be carried out by the person training the apprentice, not the end-point assessor.
Whilst the nature and methods of assessment will differ between occupations and job roles, all assessment plans will focus on the end-point assessment process.
The assessment plan will set out measures for internal quality assurance which each end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) will need to undertake to ensure quality and consistency. This may include assessor experience and qualifications, training, standardisation activities, and observations.
External quality assurance will also take place by Ofqual.
You can view various assessment plans by clicking on the relevant standard at this link.
End-point assessment (EPA) is the final stage of an apprenticeship programme. It determines whether the apprentice has the required knowledge, skills and behaviours required for the particular occupational area. It is carried out at the end of an apprentice's training programme.
It is performed by someone other than the person who has been involved with training the apprentice. It often takes place at an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) and away from the usual apprentice's work place.
If you are the apprentice’s trainer, you will need to prepare your apprentice for end-point assessment and will need to see the assessment plan (see section above) to find out what’s involved. For example, ensuring your apprentice knows how to take part in a professional discussion, prepare for a test or give a presentation. Your training organisation will need to liaise with the apprentice's employer and the end-point assessment organisation to arrange assessment. You will need to know when your apprentice is ready to progress to the end-point assessment process. This is known as the 'gateway'. Formative assessment should take place throughout the training period, to ensure the apprentice is progressing. All training organisations must be on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers.
If the apprentice is also working towards a qualification, it’s probable you will be able to train as well as assess, providing you meet the requirements of the qualification’s assessment strategy. This can be found in the relevant awarding organisation's qualification specification for the occupational area. However, you will only be assessing towards the qualification, not the apprenticeship programme.
End-point assessment occurs at the end of the apprentice's training programme and is based on the content of the assessment plan, which will:
explain in detail what will be assessed (i.e. the knowledge, skills and behaviours which the apprentice must be able to demonstrate)
state how the apprentice will be assessed (i.e. which method or methods will be used to judge competency at the end of the apprenticeship programme)
indicate who will carry out the assessment (i.e. who will be the assessor(s) for each aspect of the end-point assessment process) and who will make the final decision regarding the competency and grading descriptors. Grades of distinction, merit, pass and not yet achieved (NYA) will be used
propose quality assurance arrangements to make sure that the assessment is reliable and consistent across different locations, employers, training and assessment organisations.
If you are an end-point assessor, your role will NOT include training your apprentices towards the aspects which you will assess. You will therefore be working for an end-point apprenticeship assessment organisation (EPAO) and you should never have met the apprentice prior to assessing them.
The qualifications an end-point assessor will need to have will depend upon the requirements outlined in the specific occupational standard and assessment plan.
You can read the findings from Ofqual's (June 2020) Technical evaluation of apprenticeship EPA assessment materials here.
The assessment activities will be stipulated in the apprenticeship standard, and might contain one or more of the following:
multiple choice test
observations of practice
portfolios of work (work products and/or evidence)
questions (written and/or oral)
situational judgement tests
tests (theory and/or practical: in person/online)
Please contact me if any of these links no longer work.