As we draw May to a close please allow us to offer another weekly EPA update on the following subjects:

  • Functional Skills- Calculated Results and EPA Sequencing
  • ESFA guidance – updated on 19th May
  • Apprentice Framework switch off
  • New EPA Standards

As well as, a further update and / or reminder regarding:

  • Hospitality & Catering Standards – LIVE from today (26th May)
  • Update on Alternative Assessment Delivery

And finally, a thank you, for your feedback so far and to request more feedback and success stories:

  • COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories

Functional Skills – Calculated Results & EPA Sequencing

In addition to the flexibilities applied to enable Level 2 Apprentices to progress through Gateway, without requiring evidence of “attempting” Level 2 assessments until 31st July 2020, last week a further Functional Skills related flexibility was published.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education have confirmed an additional temporary flexibility that enables all Apprentices to progress to undertake their End-Point Assessment, ahead of receiving their calculated Functional Skills Qualification, later on in the summer.

Typically, an Apprentice is required to provide an End-Point Assessment Organisation with evidence of achievement, for the required Functional Skills level, as part of the mandatory Gateway evidence, prior to the Apprentice commencing their End-Point Assessment.

This new flexibility will enable Apprentices to now progress through Gateway, without this evidence, undertake their End-Point Assessment and submit the Functional Skills evidence at a later date, once received by their issuing Awarding Organisation.

End-Point Assessment Organisations will not apply for the Apprenticeship Certificate until the required Functional Skills evidence has been received.

This flexibility, which has immediate effect, applies to:

  • All Apprentices due to take a Functional Skills Qualification test and receive a result between 20th March and 31st July 2020;
  • Apprentices that are deemed by their Training Provider to have the required level of Functional Skills and sufficient evidence to demonstrate this, to receive a calculated Functional Skills Qualification Pass; and
  • Occupationally competent Apprentices at Gateway who are ready to progress to sit their End-Point Assessment.

Additional guidance is expected to be published shortly to provider Employers, Training Providers and End-Point Assessment Organisations, with greater detail on the implementation of this flexibility. Once published, we will of course seek to implement quickly and provide a further update.

As many of you will be familiar with, our EPA Management system VERVE EPA is custom designed per standard to require evidence against individual standards. We will require evidence of Functional Skills in order for you to submit an Apprentice through Gateway.

In light of this flexibility, to aid this, we have produced a generic document titled “Functional Skills Calculated Results Form”

This can be found under the General Support Materials tab on VERVE EPA.

Training Providers are asked to read and use this form to upload, in lieu of Functional Skills results, when submitting an Apprentice through Gateway. As noted above, once we receive the detail as to the Calculated Results evidence, we will provide a further update on what evidence is needed and how this should then be submitted, in order to enable us to proceed, should the Apprentice have already successfully completed their End-Point Assessment.

ESFA guidance – updated on 19th May

The ESFA have offered a further update to their published guidance, dated 19th May 2020.

This most recent update provides detail on some safe working practices, in line with steps taken to restart the economy and how training and assessments can continue to take place, in line with this safe working practice.

Their included FAQ has also been updated:

  • Questions 19-22 – Linked to furlough arrangements, including Apprentice wage calculations.
  • Question 24 – Funding support for redundant Apprentices.
  • Question 43 – Linked to Apprentice readiness when their line manager is furloughed.

Please read the FAQs here.

Apprentice Framework Switch Off 

A reminder that all Apprenticeship Frameworks will be withdrawn on 31st July 2020.

All Apprentices beyond this date will be required to be registered on an Apprenticeship Standard. Please contact us should you wish to explore adding further standards to your agreement with us, or to discuss other standards, which are not currently part of our portfolio.

New EPA Standards – Coming Soon

Whilst this continues to be a challenging time for us, we have not let this affect our plans to progress and build upon our already impressive End-Point Assessment portfolio.

We are delighted to confirm that we have submitted applications for the following five additional Apprenticeship Standards.

  • Level 2 Early Years Practitioner
  • Level 2 Healthcare Cleaning Operative
  • Level 3 Advanced and Creative Hair Professional
  • Level 4 Lead Practitioner in Adult Care
  • Level 5 Leader in Adult Care

More information, including our fees, can be found on our website.

Hospitality & Catering Standards – LIVE from today (26th May)

We are pleased to confirm that we are fully operational, as of today, for our entire Hospitality and catering suite of standards. Support materials for the approved alternative assessment materials can be found on VERVE EPA.

Please contact us should you wish for any further information.

Update on Alternative Assessment Delivery

Whilst we have been providing you with updates on the approved alternative assessment methods for a range of standards, we thought it might also be useful to share a few brief snippets of feedback from Apprentices, who have now undertaken some of these assessments.

Question – How did you find the alternative assessment method that has been put in place during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Apprentice 1 – Absolutely fine. I actually didn’t expect it to happen, as I had it in mind that it would involve observations, which we know couldn’t happen during the given circumstances.

I had been asked instead to write a reflective statement, which I hadn’t done in ages! But once I started to write it, things were really flowing and I kept thinking of new things to write down. By the end of it, I felt comfortable and it didn’t take too long. It all started to fall into place and it’s a really good way of helping to finish End-Point Assessment. It’s a great idea!

Apprentice 2 – Personally, I found it better. I feel a little more pressure and don’t particularly enjoy being observed, so it takes away that pressure and gives you the chance to better prepare for it.

It feels like it flows better, because you feel less pressure.

Question- Could more have been done to support you to be ready for remote assessments?

Apprentice 1 – Everything for me was absolutely fine!

I was told support will always be given, they will always explain anything or help with any questions, which is absolutely fantastic. I felt comfortable in completing, so for me, I feel nothing more could have been done.

Apprentice 2 – No, I feel I had all the support I needed from those around me, they could always help with any questions I had.

Question – What would you say to other Apprentices who may be apprehensive about the new assessment methodologies?

Apprentice 1 – I felt a little apprehensive at first. Questioning am I able to do it? Will I be able to complete it? But you just have to take a deep breath and throw yourself into the unknown, if you’re unsure.

It may be different for different people. It could be easy, it could be difficult, but just throw yourself at it, and ask questions.

I don’t use computers a lot at home, I’m not fantastic on them, but I threw myself to it and I felt really good when finishing it.

You need to do it and this is the way to do it, so go for it!

Apprentice 2 – Don’t think too much into it. Think of it as an informal chat with someone about what goes on in your average day. I had gotten worked up on how it would be delivered, which made me panic more. When you panic, you forget points, no matter how much you can revise it or go through it. Don’t worry about it, it was great.

COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories

As before, please do share with us your good new stories, so we can help celebrate all the hard work you are doing to keep Apprenticeships progressing and innovative ways you are working with your Apprentices! Get in touch on epa@tquk.org and give your email the subject line: ‘COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories’.

Another week and another EPA update from us. This week, we have information about:

  • ESFA Apprenticeship Certificates
  • Lockdown restrictions lifted

As well as a further update and/or reminder regarding:

  • Customer Service Practitioner & Customer Service Specialist – LIVE
  • Hospitality & Catering Standards – Live from Tues 26th May

And finally, a thank you for your feedback so far and to request more feedback and success stories:

  • COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories

ESFA Apprenticeship Certificates

We have recently been made aware that the ESFA are not currently issuing Apprenticeship Certificates. Whilst we await further information linked to this, we are working on the assumption that this will be due to current working arrangements and not being able to operate a print run.

What does this mean for my Apprentices?

As we await further information we intend to continue to make Certificate submissions, as per our usual process. We keep a robust record of all submissions, so as needed can aid any reconciliation of missing certificates once the ESFA resume issuing once more.

We have also been notified that for some Apprentices who may have completed their End-Point Assessment just prior to lockdown, their Certificate may have been issued and sent to their Employer, which may now be closed. In such instances, these Certificates will have been returned to the ESFA who will look to reissue once they are operational.

We will be providing more updates as we receive these. In the meantime, for any specific enquiries, please send these to epa@tquk.org using ‘COVID Certificate’ in the title.

Lockdown Restrictions Lifted

With the Government offering the first of an expected several updates recently regarding plans to exit the state of lockdown, we thought it might be useful to offer you a brief update on how we plan to operationalise any changes.

As always, safety will remain at the heart of all we do. With that in mind, we will be making any updates to our practice or assessment approach sector-specific and in line with government guidance. As these become applicable, we will provide greater detail to give assurances of our safe working practices.

Just as we did to enable and implement assessment flexibilities and approved alternative assessment methods, we will continue to work closely with IfATE and External Quality Assurance Providers to phase back in assessments such as onsite Practical Observations and other face to face assessment methods.

At present, there is no guidance as to how long the temporary alternative assessment methods will be live for and we will do our best to keep you informed of any prescribed deadlines, ensuring that no Apprentice is disadvantaged by any such changes.

Customer Service Practitioner & Customer Service Specialist – Approved Alternative Assessment Method to Observation LIVE

Further to the update we provided last week, we can confirm that following the IfATEs approval to temporarily replace the Standards Observation assessments with a Witness Testimony and Question & Answer session, Assessor training has since taken place and we are now LIVE with our delivery of this alternative assessment method and support materials are available on VERVE EPA!

A reminder that if your Apprentice has already progressed through Gateway, you do not need to contact us. EPA Assessors will be in contact directly with Apprentices to discuss their option to undertake the replacement assessment component and schedule, as applicable.

For all future Apprentices you submit for Gateway, we have made an alternative COVID-19 Gateway form which we ask you to complete, which confirms the Apprentice’s assessment preferences for this observation or replacement assessment. This updated Gateway form can be found on VERVE EPA and includes COVID-19 in the title.

Hospitality & Catering Standards

As per last week’s update, we would just like to confirm that the alternative assessments for this sector will be LIVE from Tuesday 26th May.

To recap, the replacement assessments linked to Practical Observations will be an On-Programme Evidence Portfolio with Question & Answer Session for the following standards:

  • Hospitality Team Member
  • Hospitality Supervisor
  • Commis Chef
  • Chef De Partie
  • Production Chef
  • Senior Production Chef

In addition to a replacement of the Culinary Challenge assessments with submitted menu plans (costings as applicable), MOCK EPA evidence, Witness Statements and other on-programme evidence as required supported with Question & Answer Session are needed for the following two standards:

  • Commis Chef
  • Chef De Partie

As both replacement assessments rely heavily upon mock EPA and on-programme evidence it might not be possible for all Apprentices to undertake these replacement assessments and we ask that attention is given to our updated guidance documents, which will be published by our go LIVE date of 26th May.

Where evidence does not support Apprentices to undertake these replacement assessments the DELAY option must be chosen to provide the best possible assessment opportunity for each Apprentice.

COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories

Firstly, a really big thank you for all of your positive messages of support – it has been heart-warming to receive such fantastic feedback in relation to how quickly we have been able to operationalise assessment flexibilities, to support both you and your Apprentices. Our goal throughout this period has been to keep assessment practice going and avoid delays where possible, so it’s brilliant that our efforts are having the desired impact!

In May alone, 96% of our all Apprentices progressing through Gateway have been able to be assessed 100% remotely!

As before, please do share with us your good new stories, so we can help celebrate all the hard work you are doing to keep Apprenticeships progressing and innovative ways you are working with your Apprentices! Get in touch on epa@tquk.org and give your email the subject line: ‘COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories’.

The following information details the latest updates in relation to a few specific areas linked to our End-Point Assessment offer and the outbreak of Coronavirus.

  • Teaching Assistant Standard – LIVE
  • Customer Service Practitioner & Customer Service Specialist – Update

As well as a further update and/or reminder regarding:

  • Hospitality

And finally to request:

  • COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories

 Teaching Assistant – Approved Alternative Assessment Method to Observation – LIVE

Further to the update we provided last week, we can confirm that following the IfATE’s approval to temporarily replace the Observation assessment with a Reflective Statement validated by an Expert Witness supported by a Question & Answer session, Assessor training has since taken place and we are now LIVE with our delivery of this alternative assessment method from today!

A reminder that if your Apprentice has already progressed through Gateway you do not need to contact us. EPA Assessors will be in contact directly with Apprentices to discuss their option to undertake the replacement assessment component and schedule, as applicable.

For all future Apprentices you submit for Gateway we have made an Alternative COVID-19 Gateway form, which we ask you to complete and which confirms the Apprentice’s assessment preferences for this observation or replacement assessment. This updated Gateway Form can be found on VERVE EPA and includes COVID-19 in the title.

Customer Service Practitioner & Customer Service Specialist Standards

We are pleased to confirm that at the end of last week the IfATE approved the Task Force group’s proposed alternative assessment method to replace the included Observation assessment within both Customer Service standards.

This means that Apprentices can be offered an alternative assessment consisting of a Witness Testimony from someone familiar with the Apprentice’s work, supported by a Question & Answer session between the Apprentice and End-Point Assessor. Further details will be included in our Apprentice Briefs, which will be available soon.

We ask for your patience this week as we prepare the assessment materials and support guidance which will be available on VERVE EPA from Friday 15th May. Assessor training is scheduled for this week with a planned go LIVE date on Monday 18th May.

If your Apprentice has already progressed through Gateway you do not need to contact us. EPA Assessors will be in contact directly with Apprentices to discuss their option to undertake the replacement assessment component and schedule as applicable from Monday 18th May.

For all future Apprentices you submit for Gateway, we have made an Alternative COVID-19 Gateway form, which we ask you to complete and which confirms the Apprentice’s assessment preferences for this observation or replacement assessment. This updated Gateway Form will be available on VERVE EPA from Friday 15th May and includes COVID-19 in the title.

Hospitality & Catering Standards

Following the updated information shared last week we’d like to update you that work is underway to produce these revised assessments and associated support materials/EPA Assessor training and can confirm that we will be ready to go LIVE with the delivery of these from Tuesday 26th May.

To recap, the replacement assessments linked to Practical Observations will be an On-Programme Evidence Portfolio with Question & Answer Session for the following standards:

  • Hospitality Team Member
  • Hospitality Supervisor
  • Commis Chef
  • Chef De Partie
  • Production Chef
  • Senior Production Chef

In addition to a replacement of the Culinary Challenge assessments with submitted menu plans (costings as applicable), MOCK EPA evidence, Witness Statements and other on-programme evidence as required supported with Question & Answer Session are needed for the following two standards:

  • Commis Chef
  • Chef De Partie

As both replacement assessments rely heavily upon mock EPA and on-programme evidence it might not be possible for all Apprentices to undertake these replacement assessments and we ask that attention is given to our updated guidance documents which will be published by our go LIVE date of 26th May.

Where evidence does not support Apprentices to undertake these replacement assessments, the DELAY option must be chosen to provide the best possible assessment opportunity for each Apprentice.

COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories

Please share with us your good new stories so we can help celebrate all the hard work you are doing to keep Apprenticeships progressing and innovative ways you are working with your Apprentices. Get in touch on epa@tquk.org and give your email the subject line: ‘COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories’.

We’re always striving to keep you informed and up to date on key End-Point Assessment issues during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This latest update details some positive steps forwards in relation to a range of End-Point Assessment delivery areas.

  • Healthcare Standard- Approved Alternative Assessment Method to Observation LIVE
  • Retailer- Approved Alternative Assessment Method to Observation
  • Hospitality & Catering- Approved Alternative Assessment Method to Observation
  • Teaching Assistant Standard- Update
  • Customer service Practitioner & Customer Service Specialist- Update

As well as a further update and/ or reminder regarding:

  • Functional skills
  • Positive Success Stats

And finally to request:

  • COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories

Healthcare Standard- Approved Alternative Assessment Method to Observation LIVE

We would like to thank you for your patience recently, enabling us sufficient time to update our assessment and support documentation and conduct vital End-Point Assessor training. We are pleased to confirm that all support materials for the following three apprenticeship standards are now live:

  • Healthcare Support Worker
  • Senior Support Worker
  • Healthcare Assistant Practitioner

We are also able to confirm that from Monday 4th May 2020 this temporary assessment method will be live for delivery. A reminder that if you have already progressed an Apprentice through Gateway you do not need to contact us. EPA Assessors will be in contact directly with Apprentices to discuss their option to undertake the replacement assessment component and schedule as applicable.

For all future Apprentices you submit for Gateway we have made an Alternative COVID-19 Gateway form which we ask you to complete. This confirms the Apprentice’s assessment preferences for this observation or replacement assessment.

Retailer Standard

We have in the last day received confirmation from the External Quality Assurance Provider that the IfATE have approved a replacement assessment method that can be conducted during this period in place of the Practical Observation.

Guidance we have received confirms that Apprentices are to be assessed by:

  • End Point Assessment Organisations completing the Assessor Observation form based on evidence of practice provided by the Training Provider
  • Evidence will be validated by an Expert Witness Statement
  • The Assessment will be accompanied by a short 30 minute Question & Answer session between the Apprentice and End-Point Assessor to further validate evidence

We currently await further detail and a list of permitted evidence forms, range and volume to be shared by the EQA provider. At which point we shall offer and further update and seek to offer wider support materials

We advise you to continue to progress Apprentices through Gateway so that we can undertake all necessary Gateway evidence checks and commence with assessments that are currently able to take place.

Hospitality & Catering Standards

On Friday 1st May, we received confirmation from the External Quality Assurance Provider that the IfATE have approved a replacement assessment methods that can be conducted during this period in place of the Practical Observation and Culinary Challenge assessments, as applicable, for the following standards:

  • Hospitality Team Member
  • Hospitality Supervisor
  • Commis Chef
  • Chef De Partie
  • Production Chef
  • Senior Production Chef

The replacement to Observation assessments will comprise of a combination of On-Programme evidence provided by the Training Provider and a Question and Answer session between the Apprentice and End-Point Assessor.

As applicable for Commis Chef and Chef De Partie, which include a Culinary Challenge assessment, this will be temporarily replaced with a combination of a completed menu and time plan and evidence of MOCK EPA with expert witness statement supported by a Question and Answer session.

The duration of the Question & Answer session is individual in duration to each standard/ assessment. Our updated guidance will provide further detail on these which range between 20 and 50 minutes.

We currently await further detail and a list of permitted evidence forms, range and volume to be shared by the EQA provider. At which point we shall offer and further update and seek to offer wider support materials.

We advise you to continue to progress Apprentices through Gateway so that we can undertake all necessary Gateway evidence checks and commence with assessments that are currently able to take place.

Teaching Assistant Standard

We are pleased to report that positive steps are being taken towards seeking approval for a temporary Observation replacement assessment. On Friday 1st May, we participated in a special Task Force meeting chaired by the IfATE, and attended by other EPAO’s, the Trailblazer group Chair and Ofqual.

Whilst the outcome of the meeting is required to be formally reviewed and approved by further teams within the IfATE we can confirm that the group found consensus of a proposed alternative assessment method.

We anticipate communication of the IfATEs decision within the next 10-14 days and will provide a further update at this time, when we are able to share the detail of what is approved and an indication as to when we will be able to deliver and go live with the replacement assessment.

We advise you to continue to progress Apprentices through Gateway so that we can undertake all necessary Gateway evidence checks and commence with assessments that are currently able to take place.

Customer Service Practitioner & Customer Service Specialist Standards

We are pleased to report that positive steps are being taken towards seeking approval for a temporary Observation replacement assessment. On Friday 1st May, we participated in a further meeting following the initial Task Force meeting chaired by IfATE to review the details for the proposed alternative assessment.

Whilst the outcome of the meeting is required to be formally reviewed and approved by further teams within the IfATE we can confirm that the group found consensus of a proposed alternative assessment method.

We anticipate communication of the IfATEs decision within the next 5-10 days and will provide a further update at this time, when we are able to share the detail of what is approved and an indication as to when we will be able to deliver and go live with the replacement assessment.

We advise you to continue to progress Apprentices through Gateway so that we can undertake all necessary Gateway evidence checks and commence with assessments that are currently able to take place.

Functional Skills

We recently provided an update on the relaxation of the requirement for Level 2 Apprentices to “attempt” Level 2 Functional Skills assessment before progressing through Gateway. This relaxation is applicable to all Apprentices who progress through Gateway before 31st July 2020.

As many of you will be familiar with our EPA Management system VERVE EPA, which is custom designed per standard to require evidence against individual standards. As such we have produced a generic document titled “Functional Skills Level 2 Exemption Form”

This can be found under the General Support Materials tab on VERVE EPA.

Training Providers are asked to read and use this form to upload in lieu of attempt of assessment evidence when submitting an Apprentice through Gateway.

All other Functional Skills evidence should be provided/ uploaded as per usual requirements.

Positive Success Stats

During this challenging time we thought it might be helpful to share with you some positive statistics in relation to how we have been able to apply approved flexibilities and adapt practice to work with you to enable as many assessments to take place as possible.

Since 23rd March:

  • 70% of Apprentices that have progressed through Gateway are on standards where we can currently offer 100% remote assessment options.
  • This will increase to 81% as we go live with the approved alternatives across Retailer and Hospitality
  • We aim to see this further increased to 92% when Customer Service and Teaching Assistant alternative assessments are also approved
  • Of the Apprentices passing through Gateway we can currently undertake 86% of all included assessments via remote assessment options.
  • Again we hope this will rise to 97% with final agreements as noted above
  • Feedback from a small sample of apprentices has included:
    • Remote assessment was more straightforward than I expected
    • Assessment was fine, easier, less pressured remotely
    • Assessment planning meetings with EPA Assessor helpful
    • Remote assessment was really easy and really good to have the opportunity to talk to someone – nice to see someone and have the discussion
    • The technology was smooth, and it felt normal
    • I was able to have time to discuss and no difference to face to face with living in a world of new technology. Time to think of answers and conversion flowed and it feels comfortable
    • Conversation was the same and flowed as in room together (natural conversation)
    • Employer support – kit and equipment given to allow the virtual meeting to take place (best up to date kit)./ Provider – was well set up, prepared and support through call.

COVID-19 Apprenticeship success stories

Please share with us your good new stories so we can help celebrate all the hard work you are doing to keep Apprenticeships progressing and innovative ways you are working with your Apprentices

How TQUK Can Help You

The new apprenticeship standards are designed to improve upon what’s gone before and help with the apprentice’s initial journey into their chosen career, before you know it, they’ll be on the road to success.

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