A comprehensive set of guidance is in place to help people complete their apprenticeships during Covid-19.

However, there are circumstances where requests can be made for further flexibilities on published assessment methods.

These must not compromise safety or quality, and must still meet the original intent as set out in the EPA.

This should always be discussed with the EQAP for that standard and they can refer this to the Institute for approval.

The authority to significantly modify (or substitute) an assessment method remains with the Institute.  The Institute will keep the need to offer substitute assessment methods under review at this stage.

We are taking pro-active steps to convene “Taskforces” for those apprenticeship standards where:

  • There is an assessment method that involves observation/practical assessment of the apprentice completing a task(s), for example in the workplace or as part of a skills test
  • It is impossible to deliver that assessment method at present – even with the use of our existing flexibilities (e.g. remotely)
  • There is demand for the assessment from employers/apprentices

We are prioritising apprenticeship standards where there is a pressing need for this, for example, those apprenticeship standards used by front-line key workers, such as those in healthcare. Many of these temporary discretions are now agreed and can also be found on the list on our website.

The Taskforce approach includes representatives from the relevant EQA provider;  a selection of EPAOs registered to deliver the standard(s); Institute officials; and, where possible, employers represented by the Chair of the Trailblazer group.  

By holding Taskforce discussions we are able to check whether the suggested changes cover the areas for assessment adequately and are able to assess the same KSBs as covered in the published assessment method. This also allows us to ensure they have currency with employers, are deliverable and whether apprentices might be willing or able to switch to a new form of assessment at this late stage.

Any proposal generated by the Taskforce is reviewed by the Institute and the Route Panel Chair (or our COO if they cannot be contacted) to ensure quality is retained and will have currency within the sector. In general these proposals can be cleared and approved within less than a week. They are not, however, a quick fix as they are likely to result in EPAOs having to undertake significant work to develop alternative assessment materials. The bar for approval must also be maintained high enough to ensure quality is not compromised.

So, if you think a standard should be considered, let us know at mailto:enquiries.ifa@education.gov.uk. We will then set up a Taskforce to consider the proposed alternative methods, and if the Taskforce recommend that an alternative method is possible, we will do our best to review that quickly.

In all this we are balancing the need to allow apprentices who have completed their training programme to advance, without compromising quality. All COVID-19 flexibilities and the discretions agreed through Taskforces are being kept under review and are only allowed during the current COVID-19 crisis.

The EQA provider for each affected standard is aware of any changes that have been agreed and will in turn be updating EPAOs. These additional discretions are also included in the list of cases published on our website.

We are very grateful to all involved for their hard work and commitment to the apprenticeship programme.