Ofqual logo



28 April 2020

RE: Healthcare EPAs:

  • Level 2 Healthcare Support Worker (ST0216)
  • Level 3 Senior Healthcare Support Worker (ST0217)
  • Level 5 Healthcare Assistant Practitioner (ST0215)

As you may already be aware, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has announced Covid-19 temporary discretions for the three healthcare standards listed above. These agreed temporary discretions relate specifically to the observation assessment and can be found on the individual standard pages of the Institute’s website, as well as within the corresponding Skills for Health issued guidance.

This letter sets out further parameters to inform how all EPAOs should deliver these discretions in practice, with the aim of ensuring a consistent approach throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The parameters, set out below, have been agreed between the Institute; a cross section of EPAOs offering these standards; the trailblazer group and employers.

Our expectation is that should you wish to proceed with end-point assessments for the above standards using the agreed discretion, your processes, procedures and materials will be in line with the agreed parameters below. 

Should we undertake any EQA activity in relation to these EPAs and assessment methods we will look for assurance that you have remained in line with these parameters.

Agreed discretion:

The observation assessment may be replaced with a reflective statement written by the apprentice and validated by an expert witness. This will be followed by a question and answer session of up to 30 minutes with an independent assessor

Parameters for interpreting this discretion:


  • The alternative method (agreed discretion) is not mandatory. The Apprentice retains the option to pause EPA, until such time that an onsite practical observation can take place safely.
  • Retakes/ resits can be undertaken via this alternative method and/or paused to await the original observation method.
  • There is no change to grading outcomes from those detailed in the assessment plan for the observation method - Pass only.

Expert Witness

  • Must be a registered professional (this may include the apprentice’s line manager)
  • Must be operating at least one level above the Apprentice
  • Must have worked with the Apprentice on at least three occasions
  • Must provide as a minimum
    • Name
    • Job Role
    • Signature
    • PIN number or name of Registered Body

(Individual EPAOs to determine how they approach the checking/ validation of the PIN/ Registration)

  • Will be asked to sign a Declaration for the reflective statement.
    • The Declaration wording may be written largely by each EPAO and should confirm that:
      • The expert witness has read (or listened to) the reflective statement in full.
      • It is a true reflection of the Apprentice’s ability which they have observed in practice (they may not have seen the actual activity/activities referred to).
      • They have worked with the Apprentice on at least three occasions.
      • They are both an appropriate person and Registered Professional and can therefore counter-sign the reflective statement.
    • The expert witness is not required to participate in the Q&A session.

Reflective Statement

  • Will be a holistic written account of a single or range of clinical or therapy-based activities.
  • Where possible this should be based on activity/activities undertaken in the last 3 months (in keeping with other practice within assessment plans).
  • Will focus on as a minimum the mandatory criteria/ KSBs aligned to the observation assessment detailed within the individual assessment plans (e.g. the bold criteria). Apprentices are also encouraged to attempt alignment with all relevant KSBs. Wider criteria aligned to this assessment will be addressed in the 30 min Q&A session, along with any criteria the Apprentice has attempted which require further development/ exploring.
  • It is not expected that the account will be longer than 2000 words- the focus should be on quality not quantity.
  • Some form of checklist/ guidance of the included criteria should be provided to support Apprentices in completing the statement.
  • Accounts can be written. Audio or video recorded statements will also be accepted to support reasonable adjustments and to acknowledge this is in place of a practical observation (therefore it is not an assessment of an Apprentice’s ability to write).
  • Declarations of Apprentice authenticity and Expert Witness declarations are required regardless of the format / medium of the account.
  • EPAOs should cover the above parameters in their reflective statement guidance to Apprentices and Assessors.

30 minute Question & Answer Session

  • 30 minutes plus 10% time allowance at the Assessor’s discretion
  • Must only be undertaken remotely
  • Identification checks as per EPAOs usual methods remain applicable
  • EPAOs can determine any necessary time specifications between submission of the Reflective Statement and Q&A session to suit the business needs of the EPAO and / or Apprentice.
  • Must be undertaken in a controlled environment, in line with the EPAOs established guidance

Yours sincerely,

Steve Walker
Associate Director
Apprenticeships External Quality Assurance