Comprehensive 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 end-point assessment (EPA).
This should always be discussed with the external quality assurance provider (EQAP) for that apprenticeship and they can refer this to the Institute for approval.
Along with EQAPs, we have developed flexibilities for more than 130 apprenticeships with employers, which have helped many people continue and complete their training during the pandemic.
In most cases, these flexibilities allow for high quality remote, rather than face-to-face, assessment.
We will convene task forces to develop further flexibilities where:
- There is a demand for the assessment from employers/ apprentices
- 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 existing flexibilities (eg remotely)
We will prioritise 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.
The taskforce approach includes representatives from: the relevant EQAP; a selection of end point assessment organisations (EPAOs) registered to deliver the standard(s); Institute officials; and employers represented by the chair of the employer-led Trailblazer group where possible, or at least one employer representative from the sector responsible for a given apprenticeship.
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 knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) as covered in the published assessment method. This also allows us to ensure they have currency with employers, are deliverable and to form a judgement on 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 route panel chair (or our chief operating officer if they cannot be contacted) to ensure quality is retained and will have currency within the sector. In general, these proposals will be cleared and approved as quickly as possible. They are not, however, a quick fix as they are likely to result in EPAOs having to carry out significant work to develop alternative assessment materials. The bar for approval will also be high enough to ensure quality is not compromised.
So, if you think a standard should be considered, let us know at email@example.com.