12 May 2022
Considerable progress has been made with transition of quality assurance reforms for apprenticeship assessment – with the external quality assurance (EQA) of over 270 apprenticeships covering around 95% of apprentices transitioning to Ofqual.
The outgoing system for external quality assurance (EQA) of end point assessment (EPA) provided multiple options. In addition to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), EQA could be provided by professional and employer groups, established qualifications and higher education regulators, and the Office for Students.
We agreed to simplify and strengthen the process in response to concerns that it was over-complicated. The reforms will see EQA predominantly covered by the statutory regulators, Ofqual, or, for integrated degree apprenticeships, the Office for Students.
Phase one of the transition process required EPAOs, for apprenticeships previously overseen by IfATE EQA service, to apply for Ofqual recognition. A deadline of 16 May 2022 was confirmed on 22 October 2021 for EPAOs to achieve recognition, enabling the transition of these standards to Ofqual for their oversight.
By the end of May, a total of 272 apprenticeships previously overseen by the old IfATE EQA service will have transitioned to Ofqual, covering more than 95% of apprentices.
This will mean that Ofqual will in total be providing EQA for at least 470 apprenticeships – taking into account those that it already regulates.
Rob Nitsch, delivery director for IfATE, said: “Our top priority throughout this process has been to avoid any apprentice being disadvantaged. I would like to thank the hundreds of EPAOs who have worked tirelessly with Ofqual to make transition possible for so many apprenticeships. A temporary arrangement, for a small number of apprenticeships still to change over, will support with realising this ambition for the benefit of all those potentially impacted – apprentices, employers, and providers.”
IfATE will provide a temporary, free-of-charge, in-house advice, and quality assurance solution for around 40 apprenticeships that will not transition by the end the May. This will ensure that EPA can continue, and that quality will be maintained. For all enquiries, advice or to request further information related to the temporary service please contact IFATE via EQAQueries.IFA@education.gov.uk.
Catherine Large OBE, Ofqual executive director for vocational and technical qualifications, said: "Quality end point assessment can only be delivered by organisations that have the expertise, governance and resource to deliver. This includes many organisations that are specialists in particular industries. It is Ofqual's role, as the statutory regulator, to work in the interests of apprentices and make sure that they are getting fair and high quality assessment that will set them onto the path of future success."
Phase two of the transition process covers EPAOs whose EQA provider service was previously delivered by a professional body. Their first applications should be submitted by 16 May 2022, and it is planned that the transfer process will be concluded by 31 December 2022, in accordance with the programme published in October 2021.
EPAOs already recognised by Ofqual, who want to expand their scope to include other standards, should continue to submit these as soon as possible and there is no limit to the number of times an EPAO may apply for recognition.
Notes to editors:
- IfATE stopped charging for EQA on any assessment in December 2021.
- We consulted on the new and improved EQA system and will continue to follow the transition timeline published last year. Ofqual is working with a number of EPAOs that have applied for recognition in Phase 2 and welcomes more applications.
- Ofqual published an EQA transition update at the end of March. Further updates will be published over the coming months.
- For new EPAOs applying for Ofqual recognition, there will be no consideration of de-registration from register until an EPAO withdraws or has had two attempts. If later than 15 May, then no action will be taken until the EPAO has a 2nd response from Ofqual provided that submission deadlines have been met. Where this is not the case, and noting that the deadline for submissions has been extended twice to assist EPAOs, other cases will be considered individually.
- Minimising the disruption for apprentices will be at the forefront of any subsequent considerations and a pragmatic approach will be taken. If apprentices have started their EPA on an apprenticeship impacted by phase one of the transition process, it is anticipated that they should finish it with their current EPAO.
- The Department for Education will engage with phase one EPAOs individually who have had two attempts and not achieved recognition by 16 May.
- EPAOs can continue to apply to Ofqual for recognition – there is no limit to the number of attempts.