External Quality Assurance (EQA) monitors the End Point Assessment that apprentices undertake at the end of their apprenticeship, to ensure that it is fair, consistent and robust across different apprenticeship standards and between different assessment organisations.

An overview EQA and the Institute’s framework for what we expect EQA to cover can be found below.

More information on EQA can be found in the ‘What is EQA? section.

The Institute has two important roles in the provision of EQA:

  • Firstly, the Institute has a role overseeing EQA across all EQA providers to ensure quality, consistency and credibility
  • Secondly, the Institute will act as a provider of EQA for standards where the trailblazer deems this the most appropriate solution.


1. EQA overview

EQA monitors End-Point Assessment (EPA) across apprenticeship standards. EQA ensures that End Point Assessment Organisations (EPAOs) all work to a high standard and that an apprentice would get the same result from their EPA regardless of the EPAO. EQA also ensures the apprenticeship standard and end-point assessment plan are fit-for-purpose and actually delivering the outcomes that are required.

Who can carry out EQA?

There are four options that a trailblazer can choose to deliver EQA for a standard:

  • an employer led model
  • a professional body
  • Ofqual
  • the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

You can view a register of organisations approved to carry out EQA and their approaches to EQA.

How does a body get approved to deliver EQA?

  1. The trailblazer chooses one of the four EQA options when designing the end-point assessment plan. At this stage they must confirm with the specific organisation they elect to use that they are content to act as EQA provider. If Ofqual has been selected then they will wish to review the assessment plan and confirm that they can act as EQA provider. This must happen before the plan is submitted to the Institute for approval.
  2. Once an assessment plan is submitted to the Institute we will, as part of our approvals process, make checks and confirm that the nominated organisation is suitable to act as EQA provider e.g. it is a legal entity, fits one of the four categories, does not have conflicts of interest that would prevent it acting as an EQA provider.
  3. Following approval of the assessment plan, if an employer-led group or professional body is selected, the Institute will contact the organisation. We will then ask them to set out their EQA process using a process where they are asked a series of questions.
  4. When we are satisfied that the approach outlined provides the necessary assurances of rigour and comparability of assessment this will be approved by our Quality Assurance Committee and we will issue a letter recognising the body as the EQA provider for a particular standard (or standards).

This process is outlined in the diagram below:




2. What does EQA involve?

The Institute has produced guidance on what EQA should cover. This is set out below.

The exact nature of EQA will vary depending on the EQA provider involved, further details on the specific approaches can be found at the links below:

  • Ofqual's approach to providing EQA for apprenticeships can be found on the gov.uk website. Trailblazers who choose Ofqual as their EQA provider should read the document so that they fully understand the process and any requirements.
  • The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Educations'  approach to EQA can be found below.
  • You can view a register of employer-led organisations and professional bodies approved to carry out EQA and their approaches to EQA.

EQA should explore the following areas for each standard:

  1. Standards and Assessment Plans
    1. standards and assessment plans are and will continue to be fit for purpose
    2. the Assessment Plan is valid and cost-effective in practice
    3. there is use of a suitable range of assessment methods
    4. assessment instruments and assessments are valid across a range of real work settings and for employers of any size and in any sector;
    5. assessment methods are clearly aligned to the application of specific skills, knowledge and behaviours
    6. assessment is carried out as far as is practicable synoptically and that this applies to at least one method of assessment of skills and knowledge
    7. assessment is carried out independently in practice. This means that both the organisation and the individual assessors are independent of the delivery of training and employment of the apprentice;
    8. individual assessment instruments/methods are fit for purpose
  2. End-Point Assessment
    1. assessments are operating effectively and achieving the desired outcomes
    2. grading is applied accurately and consistently
    3. access to assessment is fair
    4. assessors are fully occupationally competent as set out in the assessment plan
    5. assessors’ knowledge is up-to-date as set out in the assessment plan
    6. sufficient assessors are available
    7. all requirements of the standard in terms of achievement of gateways and mandatory qualifications and requirements are achieved prior to sign off and the employer makes the final decision on the readiness of the apprentice for EPA
    8. assessment is reliable and comparable across different EPAOs, employers, places, times and assessors
  3. End-Point Assessment Organisations
    1. internal quality assurance processes carried out by the EPAOs meet the requirements set out in the assessment plan
    2. employers are choosing EPAOs and have enough information to make an informed choice
    3. each EPAO has arrangements to collect and action feedback from apprentices and employers
    4. accurate records are kept and data is held securely with appropriate protocols in place
    5. information provided and fees charged are clear and transparent
    6. retakes, resits, appeals and complaints handling are operated effectively; and
    7. delivery of EPA by the EPAOs is efficient and effective including:
      • timeliness of assessment windows
      • booking and management of assessment
      • marking/remote assessment
      • resources for assessment
      • evidence gathering and record keeping
      • issue of results and feedback
      • confidentiality
      • certification including its timeliness and checking any requirements.

The EQA organisation will give written feedback to each EPAO setting out good practice and any areas for improvement and the two bodies may agree an action plan.  Whilst the policy intent is that there should be different EQA models available to reflect the needs of different sectors it is important that any action taken on the back of these different models is consistent. To aid this we expect that all EQA organisations will also provide an annual report to the Institute on the standard(s) they are providing EQA for, providing commentary on the operation of the EPA plan and the performance of EPAOs. 

Sample reports can be found on the EQA Resources  page on this website.

The Institute will use these reports as a tool for enforcing accountability, and/or implementing continuous improvement. Reports will also highlight good practice and enable the EPAO to apply this to other areas, identifying opportunities for other improvements.

There may be a range of actions that come out of EQA activity. It may be that the EQA provider is able to report that the delivery of assessment across a standard is robust, credible and consistent. Or, they may note areas for improvement and agree an action plan with the EPAO. The Institute may instigate a formal review where there are serious concerns.

The Institute’s Quality Assurance Committee will review EQA reports from all EQA providers (including the Institute). This Committee is made up of Institute board members, independent assessment experts and senior Institute staff. It makes recommendations about what action (if any) should be taken.

3. The Institute as EQA provider

The Institute acts as an EQA provider where this is the most appropriate option for a standard.

We contracted Open Awards as a third party to undertake this work on our behalf for 2017-18 and 2018-19.

This contract ended at the close of the financial year. However, Open Awards has agreed to carry on providing this service on a temporary basis until the end of June 2019, to ensure a smooth transition before the next contract begins.

A decision will be announced soon on which provider will be chosen to undertake EQA on our behalf for the next 2 years, following a competitive tendering process.


4. Resources

This page contains links to information that may be helpful for EQA providers to use when designing and delivering their EQA service. This page will expand as EQA continues and expands and will enable us to share good practice between EQA providers.

Report templates

Standard level report template

EPAO level report template

Fictional ‘dinosaur hunter’ report

EQA audit documents

Audit report template