By the time that standards are transferred to Ofqual, all organisations wishing to deliver end-point assessment (EPA) will need to be recognised by Ofqual. Those who are not yet regulated will need to apply for Ofqual recognition. Those who are already recognised will need to agree their expanded scope of regulated end-point assessments. This excludes integrated degree apprenticeships.
Until end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) transition to Ofqual, they should continue to work with their current external quality assurance provider(s), respond to their requests and continue to meet the relevant payments for external quality assurance (EQA). EPAOs should also continue to comply with the conditions of the RoEPAO.
If Ofqual is the current EQA provider, EPAOs will need to apply for and achieve Ofqual recognition before their application to the RoEPAO can be approved. The list of standards that Ofqual is the current EQA provider can be found on GOV.UK
We set out the transition of EQA for phase one would be completed by the end of December 2021 for all standards where the Institute is the EQA provider (phase one). As part of the commitment to take a flexible and pragmatic approach to planning, the timeline for phase one of the transition has been extended. This is to ensure:
Organisations whose most recent application to Ofqual was unsuccessful and who have had their feedback meeting (or refused this opportunity) by 18 October, are expected to be able to resubmit a final revised application no later than 29 November 2021. (six working weeks from the date of this letter) We expect EPAOs to make every effort to meet this timeline and to seek support to do so wherever this is appropriate.
For organisations that currently have their first application submitted to Ofqual and that may be awaiting the result, all of these results will be processed and EPAOs will have received their feedback meeting from Ofqual no later than 12 November 2021. If the application is unsuccessful EPAOs will be expected to resubmit a revised and final application as soon as possible and no later than 7 January 2021.
EPAOs should submit their applications as soon as possible rather than work to the final deadline so that Ofqual can schedule assessments effectively. Any organisation that feels that exceptional circumstances influence their ability to meet the above timelines should approach Ofqual directly.
For EPAOs that have not successfully achieved Ofqual recognition within the agreed timelines, the ESFA will begin the process of removing them from the register of end-point assessment organisations. The ESFA will contact those organisations to explain the process of removal, which will be focussed on ensuring the least possible disruption to apprentices and their employers. Removal from the register will not begin prior to 16 December 2021.
EPAOs removed from the register will be welcome to reapply for Ofqual recognition and the ESFA register at a later date. EPAOs may also consider applying for Ofqual recognition after their second attempt if needed.
For those EPAOs who are already recognised by Ofqual, and are expanding their scope to include other standards, please continue to submit these as soon as possible. Ofqual will confirm expansion decisions no later than 16 December 2021.
In accordance with previous announcements (Timeline extended for external quality assurance transition / Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education), billing for the EQA of standards completed by The Institute (Open Awards on our behalf) cease at midnight 15 December 2021,
EPAOs will be expected to honour payments incurred for any apprentices with an achievement date up to midnight 15 December 2021, this will ensure that there is no deferral of EPA for Apprentices prior to this date. The ESFA and Institute will be monitoring that Apprentices are not disadvantaged in this manner.
Ofqual will separately be publishing details of the support they will be continuing to make available to EPAOs during the recognition approval process and the adaptations they are making to assist the maximum number of EPAOs to be successful at the earliest opportunity whilst maintaining standards.
The Institute is co-ordinating opportunities for EPAOs to meet with experts offering help.
During the course of the day, we will address key reasons applications for recognition are unsuccessful and provide EPAOs with extra, tailored support.
Specific areas we will focus on:
London, De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms 61-65 Great Queen Street WC2B 5DA.
EPAOs who would like to attend can purchase a free ticket through the below link to Eventbrite.
There are many opportunities to hear more about EQA Transition. Please find a list below, which is updated on a regular basis:
You can also access recordings from previous events and webinars
Two-part series explaining the recognition panel meeting:
If you no longer want to deliver some EPAs following the transfer of standards to Ofqual or the Office for Students (OfS), you do not need to apply for Ofqual recognition. You can continue to deliver the EPA until the date of transition and the arrangements with your current EQA provider will continue.
Once the standard transfers to Ofqual you will no longer be able to deliver that EPA and will be removed from the RoEPAO for those standards. This means that employers will no longer be able to select you as the EPAO for that standard.
ESFA has asked EPAOs to indicate their intent, or otherwise, to apply for Ofqual recognition by completing this survey. Details of the withdrawal requirements are in ESFA’s conditions of acceptance. EPAOs should notify the ESFA of their intention to withdraw from the RoEPAO by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Organisations applying to the RoEPAO to assess standards in the first year of transition will need to seek recognition by Ofqual and have this in place before their application to the RoEPAO can be approved.
This applies to organisations not currently on the register and those that have not yet applied.
If you have any questions, please email Ofqual at email@example.com
ESFA and Ofqual are looking at ways to align the registration processes to go on to the ESFA’s register of EPAOs and Ofqual’s recognition process. ESFA and Ofqual are conscious of the need to minimise burden in the system and the intention is to move to a single registration process as soon as possible. Once this is in place, a potential EPAO, or an existing EPAO that wants to deliver additional standards, will submit their evidence through a single process and that evidence will be shared with both ESFA and Ofqual for a decision.
Where organisations are already on the RoEPAO and need to become recognised by Ofqual, or where an existing regulated awarding organisation seeks to become an EPAO, ESFA and Ofqual will share information and intelligence, to inform decision-making.
Ofqual’s recognition criteria are the same for all organisations; whether they are applying to deliver EPAs or other types of qualifications. Applications are reviewed according to the size and scale of delivery of the applicant. EPAOs will need to demonstrate that they meet the requirements set out in Ofqual’s Criteria for Recognition.
If an EPAO is not currently recognised by Ofqual it will need to complete a full application for recognition and provide evidence which demonstrates that the organisation is financially sustainable and has the processes, capacity and capability to design and deliver valid EPAs. When reviewing and deciding on an application for recognition Ofqual will consider contextual information such as the specialism and scale of the EPAO.
The application for Ofqual recognition should include all the standards that the EPAO delivers, or plans to deliver, that is in year one of the transition, which are those where the Institute is the current EQA provider.
EPAOs that are already on the RoEPAO for any standards that are in year one of the transition have already been contacted by ESFA or Ofqual advising them to apply for recognition. At this stage, EPAOs should not apply for Ofqual recognition for any standards that are in year two of the transition, which is those that have other external EQA providers.
Ofqual’s recognition process requires EPAOs to provide evidence that they can meet the Criteria for Recognition and this will be the basis of the review of recognition applications. Ofqual will also do due diligence checks from existing sources on EPAOs as part of the review.
As part of the transition process Ofqual will work with the Institute and other EQA providers to understand EQA reports to date. This information will help inform Ofqual’s understanding of EPAOs, their level of risk and potential EQA activities to undertake following recognition.
The aim is for Ofqual to complete a review and respond to applications received within 12 weeks. However, Ofqual does not provide an average length of time to complete the recognition as every application and EPAO is different. The total length of time to achieve recognition will depend on the quality of the application received and whether the application needs to be returned at any stage. Ofqual has increased resources to review applications in response to the changes announced.
If an EPAO has not yet carried out an EPA for a standard this does not prevent them from applying for Ofqual recognition. Where an EPAO does not expect apprentices to complete their EPA for some time due to the length of the apprenticeship programme they can still apply for Ofqual recognition as normal. When applying for recognition Ofqual expects EPAOs to be able to show how they will develop and deliver the EPAs to those apprentices even where they are not yet doing so.
In the consultation response, Ofqual said it would engage, collectively and individually, with EPAOs to provide them with guidance as they proceed with their recognition applications. Taking on board feedback from respondents, Ofqual is building a range of additional information, resources and briefings to clarify the process and requirements of applying for recognition. To deepen the understanding of what they do and how a regulated approach to EQA will operate in line with the Institute’s EQA Framework. Further detail of the developing communications and engagement, can be found in Annex 4 of the EQA consultation response.
Ofqual has already published a range of additional resources to support EPAOs applying for recognition, including an EPAO recognition briefing and webinars with existing EPAOs Autoexel and EMPI on their experience of recognition. Ofqual will continue to provide additional resources to support EPAOs with the process.
Ofqual is aware that each EPAO is different. Ofqual offers support throughout the recognition process to help EPAOs understand what it means to be regulated and how to demonstrate that they meet the requirements. This includes an initial meeting with Ofqual to discuss recognition and a named point of contact for support and guidance as your EPAO completes the application.
Once an organisation is recognised by Ofqual there is no need to apply for recognition again as an EPAO.
Instead, as a recognised awarding organisation EPAOs will need to apply to expand their current scope of recognition to include each EPA that they want to deliver. When applying to expand the scope of recognition Ofqual requests the following information:
EPAOs will only need to make a new application for recognition where the organisation that is delivering EPAs is a separate legal entity to the one that has Ofqual recognition, for example, a different company set up specifically for this purpose. Ofqual recognises the legal entity and therefore if the organisation is set up separately, they will require their own recognition. If this is the case Ofqual will be interested in understanding the governance arrangements and any potential or actual conflicts of interests that may occur for the existing awarding organisation and EPAO.
If you have a specific concern about this then please get in touch with Ofqual and include any relevant details.
Ofqual’s expertise is in assessments and their regulation. Ofqual regulates 160 awarding organisations and over 14,000 vocational and technical qualifications and EPAs.
Ofqual will bring this assessment expertise to the external quality assurance of EPAs and will use the Institute’s Employer Directory for the technical and subject expertise required for its EQA activities.
Ofqual welcomes the opportunity to work in partnership with employers and professional bodies through the Institute’s employer directory. The employer directory will provide opportunities, with those who represent their sectors, to access their expertise and insights of EPA delivery. Ofqual will work with those who are on the employer directory so that their EQA is informed by appropriate, relevant professional and technical expertise, and Ofqual will look to them to convey the voices and views of employers in their sector or profession.
There is a range of ways that Ofqual may work with employers or professional bodies and their members. These may include the following:
Additionally, Ofqual is establishing a field team that will look at how assessments are working in practice at the point of delivery. They will undertake on-site monitoring of EPAs, to gather intelligence from employers and apprentices and to strengthen the evidence base for risk-based, targeted interventions.
As standards transition over to Ofqual, EQA providers will remove all of the EQA related data they hold on their systems. The Institute will retain any information that has been submitted as part of the EQA activity undertaken and share this information with Ofqual or the Office for Students (OfS), to ensure that external quality assurance is maintained and end-point assessments continue to be fair, robust and consistent.
To also ensure consistency in delivery EQA providers will hold EPAO related information until all of the standards the organisation delivers transfers over to Ofqual.
Apply to have your qualifications regulated- information from Ofqual about applying for recognition and links to the recognition gateway.
End-Point Assessment Organisation recognition briefing guidance for organisations considering applying for Ofqual recognition to deliver apprenticeship end-point assessments.