Frequently asked questions

What does the Institute have planned?

For apprenticeships with a statutory regulator, our intention is to integrate end-point assessment (EPA) with the assessment arrangements set out by that regulator wherever possible. The EPA is not being removed, but arrangements are being streamlined.

This will be done on the condition that it does not compromise the quality of the apprenticeship’s assessment. We will set a high bar and ensure in all cases that resulting EPA continues to be widely respected and valued by employers.

The EPAs will reflect the statutory regulators’ requirements for entry into that occupation. The assessment plan will be revised in-line with these requirements, in accordance with the Institute’s normal approvals cycle.

What will be the advantages of integrating EPAs? 

This will simplify and strengthen how EPAs work for the affected apprenticeships and improve the status of apprentices by giving them parity with other trainees in assessment terms. A key point is that there will be no additional hurdles for them to overcome to be able to practice.

It will make better use of public money to better support the apprenticeship system and reduce the burden of assessment on apprentices and employers.

It will also mean learning lessons from flexibilities granted during COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, we see this as a further step in improving the quality and standing of apprenticeships.

Is EPA being removed?

No. EPA remains a fundamental part of the apprenticeship. The difference is that it will overlay the existing assessment arrangements of the statutory regulator (as explained in the assessment plan). As for all apprenticeship standards, only through successfully passing EPA will the apprenticeship be completed and the apprentice deemed to be occupationally competent.

What is a statutory regulator?   

A ‘statutory regulator’ is one that has undisputed control of admittance of professionals into an entire occupation that Parliament has said must be regulated.

Generally, we would expect statutory regulators to undertake the following:

  • setting standards of competence and conduct to be met in order to be registered to practise in the occupation (profession)
  • checking the quality of education and training to make sure that those admitted to the register have the skills and knowledge to practise safely and/or competently
  • maintain a register of individuals admitted to the profession that everyone can search and on which individuals need to reside to able to practice

This is watering down the quality requirements for apprenticeships. It will lead to a drop in standards, won’t it?

No, we won’t take any actions that water down or reduce the quality requirements for apprenticeships, such as the need to ensure occupational competence. We will monitor the situation carefully and ensure that the requirements to be an apprenticeship are preserved and enhanced. We are strengthening EPA by drawing on the strength and status of statutory regulators.

We have already seen encouraging signs of how such an approach could work through the flexibilities we have introduced in response to the challenges presented by COVID-19. For example, the flexibilities agreed with the National Health Service and Nursing and Midwifery Council have been well received.  

What will the new EPAs look like?

The EPA arrangements will vary between the apprenticeship standards as they do now. This is because the EPA is specific to each regulated occupation. How EPA will operate for each regulated occupation will be set out in its assessment plan.

Will there be a new assessment plan?

Yes. There will still be an EPA for the apprenticeship, which the Institute will define and set out in an assessment plan.

How will the Institute make this change? 

We will work on a case-by-case basis taking on board the different circumstances for different regulated occupations.

Our general approach to integration will be to adjust the EPA to conform to the assessment arrangements required by the statutory regulator. Assessment arrangements will need to confirm occupational competency as it would for an apprenticeship.

Where it is not possible to fully integrate EPA with a statutory regulator’s system, we will work with the statutory regulator to achieve a compromise that works in the interest of apprentices and employers.

How will the changes be rolled out?

We will start by engaging with the relevant employer trailblazer groups, who design apprenticeships, to confirm that they see no reason not to integrate the EPA. We will also work with our employer route panels, who oversee approval of apprenticeships, including EPAs.

We will consult on each standard before any change is made in line with the Institute’s revisions process, giving people a chance to suggest changes to the EPA.

We will make the adjustment immediately for apprenticeship standards still to be approved and work to reset the arrangements for those already being delivered.

We will pilot this approach with the nursing apprenticeship standards, building on the lessons learned from COVID-19 flexibilities designed to support nurses.

How much notice will the Institute give before the new assessment plan comes into force?

We will give at least three months’ notice of any new assessment plan coming into force.

Will there still be end-point assessment organisations?

Yes. Which organisations can be an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) on an apprenticeship standard will be set out in the relevant assessment plan. Those organisations will need to be admitted to the register of end-point assessment organisations (RoEPAO), held by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

If the apprenticeship standard is now integrated, does that mean higher education institutions currently delivering the training for the apprenticeship standard will have to join the EPAO register to continue to deliver the training?

Yes. The ESFA will support you through this process.

I’m not a higher education institution. Can I still deliver the EPA under the new assessment plan?

Who can deliver the EPA will be set out in the assessment plan for any effected apprenticeship standard.

We currently have a number of EPAO applications in progress for apprenticeship standards that will be impacted by this change. Should we put these on hold and await changes?

The ESFA will write to you if the apprenticeship standard is due to be impacted by this change and will seek your views on whether you want to continue with your application.

Which apprenticeship standards will be affected?

This list sets out apprenticeships standards that we believe may be in scope:

This list is subject to change and will evolve over time for a number of reasons including:

  • new occupations and new apprenticeships coming into existence
  • regulatory arrangements for occupations changing
  • views of trailblazers
  • views of the statutory regulators

The outcome for each apprenticeship standard will depend on discussions with trailblazers and statutory regulators and the outcome of the Institute’s approvals process.

What will happen in those apprenticeship standards whose statutory regulators require programmes to be non-integrated and independently assessed in order to join a register?

We will take this into account on a case-by-case basis as we talk to the trailblazer and statutory regulator.  

Will the funding band change?

Any revision made to an EPA for a particular apprenticeship standard is done following the Institute’s revisions, adjustments and dispensations process and will involve consideration of the funding band. Each revision is considered individually for each apprenticeship.  The funding band may go up, down or stay the same following the revision.