7 Apprenticeship assessment flexibilities that will be retained as options to use beyond January 2022

In August, The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) announced flexibilities to the measures introduced to help support the sector through Covid-19 would run until at least the end of this year.

Following extensive engagement with Apprenticeship and External Quality Assurance Providers (EQAPs), the Institute is retaining seven out of the ten flexibilities (which apply to all apprenticeships).

The guidance, now set out in the new Flexibility Framework, is mainly for end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) and the external quality assurance providers (EQAPs) but will also be of interest to training providers, employers and apprentices.

It defines the principles and parameters for EPAOs to follow and EQAPs to consider and monitor when considering and then applying for flexibility to EPA delivery.

The seven flexibilities that will be retained as options to use beyond January are:

  1. Observations taking place in simulated environments
  2. Remote delivery of assessment (including invigilation)
  3. Pauses being allowed between assessment methods during end-point assessment period
  4. Assessments taking place outside of usual venues
  5. Delivery of assessment methods in any order (when a specified order is in the assessment plan)
  6. Exams/tests being online instead of on paper (where originally specified as paper based only)
  7. Gateway sign off being done remotely (where originally specified as having to be face to face)

Three of the ten flexibilities will be switched off on 31st December 2021. These are listed below along with the reason why:

  1. Changes being made to who sits on the EPA interview/discussion panel (when someone in addition to the independent assessor is specified)

Why - During the Covid-19 period, it wasn’t always possible to have an employer sit on a panel as many were furloughed or busy elsewhere. As the economy returns to normal, the original assessment plan can now be delivered, helping protect quality for apprentices, maintain validity and improve learning for future apprentices.

  1. Allowing other suitable evidence of achievements being used in replacement of functional skills qualifications at gateway (other mandated qualifications are covered under temporary discretions)

Why - This is no longer needed because the mandated qualifications should become available and achievable as restrictions are relaxed and training providers reopen.

  1. Extension to the length of the end-point assessment period (where specified)

Why - because it disadvantages apprentices to have a long wait for their end-point assessment (EPA) after passing through gateway.

Timing guidance for the three flexibilities being withdrawn.

The cut-off point for those flexibilities which are being withdrawn is the date at which the actual assessment occurs, not the date of gateway.

Apprentices that progress through gateway prior to or on the 31st December 2021 but have their end-point assessment planned after 1st January 2022 will not be able to use the three flexibilities being withdrawn.

Any end-point assessments that begin prior to or on the 31st December 2021 but are completed after 1st January 2022 can continue to make use of the flexibilities being withdrawn.

Apprentices that complete their end-point assessment before 31st December 2021, using a flexibility that is being withdrawn, but who require a resit/retake after 1st January 2022, are permitted to continue to use the withdrawn flexibility for their resit/retake.

Discretions update

Along with the Flexibility Framework, the Institute has also published an update to the guidance around use of more than 60 temporary discretions (which only apply to specific apprenticeships) that supported continued EPA through the pandemic.

For those discretions that are due to be switched off, the guidance includes detail around how to treat apprentices who are just starting, or are part way through, their EPA to ensure they are not disadvantaged.

Each apprenticeship standard with a discretion in place has a banner, on the apprenticeship standard page of the Institute’s website, which sets out what the discretion is. These banners have already been updated for those discretions that will be switched off. For those where an extension has been requested, the banner will be updated as soon as a decision is made and by 14th December at the latest.

Details of the new Flexibility Framework can be found here.  If you are unsure about anything, we are here to help, so don’t hesitate to contact your Aspire to Learn contact or tutor.

03 Dec 2021

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