Here at Training Qualifications UK, we like to make sure you’re kept aware of all the most important goings-on in the world of End-Point Assessment. With that in mind, here are the latest updates you need to know abot.  

Functional Skills Calculated Results

On the 31st July, the ESFA announced an update regarding Apprentices due to approach Gateway after 1st August. The guidance states that any Apprentices approaching Gateway after this date are expected to now take a live FSQ Test.

Following on from this update, Training Qualifications UK is no longer able to accept Functional Skills calculated grades, prior to Gateway for EPA.

“Where calculated results for FSQs are issued, this only applies to assessments which would have been taken by apprentices between 20 March and 31 July 2020. We do not expect calculated results to be issued after 31 July 2020. “

The full guidance can be found here

As always, the EPA Team are happy to support with any and all queries you may have in relation to this reminder. You can either call the office on 0333 358 3344 or email us: epa@tquk.org

Team Leader/ Supervisor Updated Assessment Plan

We have previously let you know that from 15th August 2020 our Verve EPA system will support two concurrent Team Leader/ Supervisor standards, reflecting each Assessment Plan version:

• Team Leader / Supervisor (Legacy)
• Team Leader / Supervisor (Version 2)

We can now confirm that our Verve EPA system is now set up with the new Team Leader/ Supervisor Standard (Version 2).

Support and Mock assessment materials are now available. However, please note that registrations and Gateways will not be permitted until 15th August.

All Apprentices registered against the (Legacy) version may be associated with the (Version 2) Standard and Assessment Plan, using the change of circumstance document (now available on Verve EPA).

More information and a tutorial will be made available to explain how to complete this process, and as promised, this will also be available on Verve EPA from 15th August.

As previously confirmed, The (Legacy) Standard and Assessment Plan will remain available until January 31st 2021.

After this point, all registrations will be automatically updated to the Version 2 standard and Gateway submissions for the (Legacy) version will be rejected, other than under exceptional circumstances.

Process training for our Providers will of course be scheduled. Dates for this will be confirmed and sent out shortly.

Invigilation Process and Document Update

At the beginning of March and during the start of the UK Lockdown, we streamlined our processes and also relaxed certain practices for invigilation in order to support our Centres.

However, now that our newly established remote invigilation process is fully embedded and running smoothly, we will now be reverting back to business-as-usual. Therefore, we will no longer be accepting employer invigilation for MCQ’s and/or short answer exams.

Our Assessment Preference documents have been updated to reflect this change and as always, you can find the newly updated documents on our Verve EPA system.

And finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and commitment to Training Qualifications UK.

For any and all EPA related matters, please feel free to contact us on 0333 358 3344 or epa@tquk.org and a member of the team will be happy to assist.

Please see below the latest End-Point Assessment update offerings:

  • Hair Professional- Barbering Update!
  • ESFA Update- Functional Skills- Level 2 “Attempt”
  • IfATE update on Assessment flexibilities.
  • Reminder- Lockdown restrictions – onsite assessments and continued use of alternative assessments.

Hair Professional- Barbering Update!

Last week we offered an update that we hoped to also resume EPA for the Barbering route of the Hair Professional Standard, where models used for the shaving aspect of the assessment were from within the Apprentices own household/ bubble. Unfortunately, the Hair Professional Employer Steering group have requested that this is not implemented at this time and therefore, we must confirm that “Delay” remains as the only option for Barbering Apprentices.

We hope to provide you with a further update on this shortly.

ESFA Update- Functional Skills- Level 2 “Attempt”

Last week the ESFA confirmed that the temporary flexibility applied to Level 2 (intermediate) apprenticeships, which permits Apprentices to progress through Gateway without attempting level 2 Functional Skills assessments in English and Maths, has been further extended.

Originally, this flexibility was in place until 31st July 2020, however in their latest update they have confirmed this has been extended until 31st December 2020.

A record should be kept by providers if a level 2 Apprentice did not take the level 2 assessments during this time. There will be no requirement for those Apprentices who are passed through Gateway to go back and take the level 2 Functional Skills test.

For all level 2 Apprentices progressing through Gateway during this period, please download the TQUK “Attempt Level 2 Functional Skills” document, which is available on VERVE EPA, and use this to upload as Gateway evidence, in place of the usually required attempt evidence.

The full ESFA update can be found here;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro 

IfATE update on Assessment flexibilities

IfATE also offered an update last week to confirm that all current approved End-Point Assessment flexibilities and dispensations will be retained until at least January 2021. Furthermore, they commit to giving 12 weeks’ notice of the withdrawal of any of these flexibilities, which is expected to be reviewed on a sector by sector basis.

As always, we will provide timely updates of this transition as they are known. Until then, all such alternative assessment methods and wider flexibilities remain in place, even as we start to commence with onsite assessments.

https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/about/news-events/apprenticeship-assessment-flexibilities-to-remain-in-place-into-2021/

Reminder- Lockdown restrictions – onsite assessments and continued use of alternative assessments

A reminder that our primary assessment remains as remote, however we are now able to assess requests for onsite/ face to face assessments.

In order to enable us to do so, we will be asking Training Providers to complete an Onsite Assessment Declaration Form. This form is available on VERVE EPA, under General Support Materials.  Training Providers are asked to take responsibility for ensuring that this form is completed for each and every assessment location being requested to host onsite assessment, to ensure it is safe and that all necessary health and safety checks and precautions have been made.

With further lockdown restrictions easing over the weekend of 4th and 5th July, we wanted to update you on some matters relating to EPA, following on from our update last week

  • Onsite Assessments
  • Hair Professional Standard update

Onsite Assessments

A reminder that our primary method of assessment remains as remote. However, we are where possible, looking to support onsite / face-to-face assessments to take place. To assist us with this, Training Providers are asked to complete our Onsite Assessment Declaration form, which can be found under the General Support Materials section on Verve EPA. Once completed, this should be emailed to epa@tquk.org where our EPA team will review.

Question– How do I request an onsite/ face-to-face assessment?

Answer– Please complete the requested Onsite Declaration form and submit to epa@tquk.org alongside the required Gateway evidence for each Apprentice, where onsite/ face to face assessment is requested.

Question – My Apprentice has already progressed through Gateway and has opted to “Delay” one or more of the included assessment components. What do I need to do?

Answer– Please complete the required Onsite Assessment Declaration form and submit to epa@tquk.org. Once this form has been received and reviewed, our Coordinators will then update the allocated EPA Assessor to confirm if the onsite assessment can now take place. Where we are able to support the Assessor, will make direct contact to discuss any wider safety considerations and look to agree an assessment date.

Hair Professional

As per our previous communication, we have been meeting regularly with the other relevant Hair Professional End-Point Assessment Organisations throughout this period, to monitor the current health pandemic and make collective judgements in relation to conducting assessments for this standard. Until this point, our collective view had been that “delay” was the only viable option for this standard.

Following the updated government guidance permitting salons to reopen for trade from 4th July, we have again met to review this guidance in association with this standard’s published assessment plan, and have collectively agreed that we are now able to lift the “delay” directive and resume onsite assessments, wherever it is safe and possible for us to do so.

As per the above detail, Training Providers are asked to complete the Onsite Assessment Declaration form, per Apprentice for our internal review.

This decision to resume assessments is for both Hair and Barbering routes, with the caveat that for Barbering Apprentices, all model(s) used for the shaving aspect of the assessment must be from within the Apprentice’s own household/ bubble. Our Onsite Assessment Declaration form requires confirmation of this. Where this is not currently possible, then unfortunately at this time the assessment still needs to remain as “Delay” and we will provide an update on this when we are able to do so.

Question– When will assessment bookings for this standard commence?

Answer– We will commence with assessor allocations from Tuesday 7th July 2020, with onsite assessments able to take place from Wednesday 15th July 2020.  As per our advice and previous communication, we have a number of Apprentices for this standard who have already been submitted through Gateway. Allocations will initially be made in date order of the Apprentices’ Gateway progression date. Whilst work has been taking place in the background to make “pencil allocations” throughout the lockdown period, we do ask for your patience as we complete this exercise.

Equally, we appreciate that for some Apprentices, whilst they may have progressed through Gateway, they may want a period of time to re-familiarise themselves with salon life and working on clients, ahead of taking their End-Point Assessment. This is not a problem, our Assessors will make contact in the order of Gateway, however will be happy to discuss an assessment date that suits the individual Apprentice’s/ Salon’s needs.

Question– If my Apprentice has already been submitted through Gateway for this standard, what do I now need to do?

Answer– Please complete the required Onsite Declaration form and submit to epa@tquk.org.  Our EPA Coordinators will commence with allocating an appropriate EPA Assessor, however, our Assessors will not make contact with the Apprentice/ Employer, until we have received the required declaration form. Once this form has been received and reviewed, our EPA Coordinators will then update the allocated EPA Assessor to confirm if the onsite assessment can now take place. Where we are able to support the Assessor, will make direct contact to discuss any wider safety considerations and look to agree an assessment date.

As always, should you have any questions with regards to onsite assessment for any of our standards please do contact us.

As we reach the end of June, we have a few updates to share in relation to End-Point Assessment.

  • New EPA Standard- Approved!
  • Team Leader/ Supervisor Updated Assessment Plan
  • Lockdown restrictions – onsite assessments and continued use of alternative assessments
  • Hair Professional Standard update
  • Children Young People and Families Manager Standard

New EPA Standard- Approved!

We are delighted to confirm that we have last week received ESFA confirmation of our Approval status to deliver End-Point Assessment for the following five standards;

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

Please visit our website for more information, including our fees, for these standards. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you wish to discuss these standards in more detail.

Team Leader/ Supervisor Updated Assessment Plan

As you may be aware, we have had the privilege over the last several months to be part of a small working group tasked with revising the assessment plan for this Level 3 standard. The collective work has paid off and towards the end of last week the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education published the updated Assessment Plan.

Development is underway to update support and Mock assessment materials and we aim to have these available by W/C 3rd August 2020.

Question– Which assessment plan will my Apprentice be assessed against?

Answer– Our intention is to transition to the new plan in a timely fashion whilst ensuring Training Providers and Apprentices who have prepared for the existing assessment plan are supported.

From 15th August 2020, the Verve EPA system will support two concurrent standards, reflecting each assessment plan version:

  • Team Leader / Supervisor (Legacy)
  • Team Leader / Supervisor (New)

From this date, Apprentices will be assessed against the above, associated standard to which they are registered, as submitted for gateway.

All Apprentices currently registered with us will be registered against the Legacy assessment plan.

All Apprentices registered against the (Legacy) version may be associated with the (New) Standard and Assessment Plan using the change of circumstance and start new programme feature. More information and a tutorial will be made available to explain how to complete this process.

The (Legacy) Standard and Assessment Plan will remain available until January 31st 2021, after which all registrations will be automatically updated to the (New) version and gateway submissions for the (Legacy) version will be rejected, other than exceptional circumstances.

Question– Will this change in plan alter the fee TQUK charges for this standard?

Answer– No. The funding band allocation remains the same and upon review of the new assessment plan we feel comfortable that we do not need to alter our EPA fee. Please visit our website for a full breakdown of costs for this standard

Lockdown restrictions – onsite assessments and continued use of alternative assessments

I am sure you have all been following the news and updates from the government in relation to the ease of lockdown restrictions. Whilst this does in the main create greater opportunities for onsite assessments including observations to potentially take place, we would like to confirm that our primary method of assessment remains as remote.

Where this is not possible or you feel onsite assessments would be a better option for your Apprentice, please discuss directly with us. We will in all cases review the individual request and support where we can.

In order to enable us to do so, we will be asking Training Providers to complete a Centre Declaration. This form will be available on VERVE EPA later this week under General Support Materials. The declaration will ask Training Providers to confirm that the assessment location being requested to host the onsite assessment is safe and that all necessary health and safety checks and precautions have been made.

Equally, we will be requiring our End-Point Assessors that are willing to conduct onsite assessments at this time to complete a health declaration, ahead of each caseload allocation.

As per our previous communication, The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education continues to confirm that they currently have no plans to revert back to the sole use of the current published assessment plans and continue to promote the use of remote assessment practice, where possible, and the continuation of the alternative assessment methods. As such, we too continue to offer these alternative assessment methods to be used wherever this is feasible and the best fit for your Apprentices.

Hair Professional Standard update

As per the above, the government have confirmed that Salons can start to reopen their doors from 4th July 2020. This is great news and we look forward to commencing End-Point Assessments for this sector once more shortly.

We continue to work with the other registered End-Point Assessment Organisations and the Employer Group to ensure that we have collectively understood and embedded the safe working practices outlined within the “Closer Contact Services” government guidance, and continue to engage with wider sectors bodies who may provide further enhancement to this guidance.

It is at this stage that we will provide more detailed guidance as to our plans to seek to resume  End-Point Assessment for this Standard and if there are any changes to our pre-COVID practice.

In the meantime, please do continue to progress your Apprentices through Gateway to enable us to conduct all Gateway checks and prepare to schedule assessments as soon as we are able to.

Children Young People and Families Manager Standard 

Last week we published a joint statement with the NCFE EPA Plus in regards to this standard. Please read this statement in full here. We very much appreciate the frustrations felt by Training Providers, Employer and Apprentices at this time and wish to reassure all that we are working hard alongside NCFE EPA Plus, Ofqual and the Employer Group to seek a speedy resolution to enable Apprentices to be able to advance and undertake their final End-Point Assessment. We will keep all registered centres updated on our progress!

We here at Training Qualifications UK are always delighted to hear from training providers about the successes of their Apprentices. 

This is even more significant during this challenging time, during which Apprentices have had to adapt to new ways of working due to the current COVID-19 situation. 

One such Apprentice is Adam. He has undertaken the Business Admin Standard with Springboard, works at Great Annual Savings, and has recently become one of their first Apprentices to complete their End-Point Assessment remotely using video conferencing software. 

Springboard’s on-programme assessor was Jasmin Richardson and the company’s Apprenticeship Lead, Andrea Whincop, explained that helping Adam feel at ease was a key priority: “This was a new experience for all involved therefore it was more important than ever that Jasmin was able to support Adam with regular telephone contact to prepare him for this final stage of his apprenticeship.

“Adam has been a dedicated, hard working Apprentice throughout his programme and with Jasmin’s support and the advances TQUK have made with their technology and processes he has been able to achieve his Apprenticeship without any delays.”

Kayleigh Robinson was assigned as Adam’s End-Point Assessor by TQUK, and he found her support invaluable. “My End-Point Assessor was great, from the moment I first spoke to her a few weeks before my EPA, right until the end of the assessment,” he said. 

“She offered her help and guidance leading up to my EPA and stressed that I should contact her if I was stuck with anything or needed any clarity on what was going to happen. Before my EPA started, she went through various situations which could potentially happen and what would happen in the event of one of these. I was made to feel at ease throughout my EPA and this made me feel more confident when on the video call.”  

On completing his End-Point Assessment, Adam added: “Completing my EPA in lockdown was fine, but was a little challenging as my preferred method was face to face and I had to complete it over video call. Other than a few external distractions, having to complete my EPA at home was okay and I was fully prepared thanks to the help of my assessor.”

TQUK’s End-Point Assessment Director Kelle McQuade was thrilled to hear of Adam’s success and the part the alterations have played in empowering him to complete his Apprenticeship. 

“Congratulations to Adam on passing his Apprenticeship,” Kelle said. “The positive words from his assessor Kayleigh really underline how well Adam performed during his assessment, and that’s doubly impressive at this difficult time.

“We’re delighted that the remote methodologies we’ve put in place during the COVID-19 situation have worked so well. Life is full of challenges at the moment, but everyone is bringing their very best and going above and beyond to ensure Apprentices can achieve the goals they’ve been working so hard towards.”

For more on Adam’s Apprenticeship success story, please visit the Springboard website.

We hope you are all having a positive start to the month!

A small few updates from us this week in relation to End-Point Assessment.

  • Alternative assessment methods – feedback and continued use.
  • Hair Professional – FAQ and status on delivering EPA.
  • Early Years Educator – Revised Assessment plan reminder and update on Mock MCQs.
  • ESFA / IfATE Updated Guidance.

Alternative Assessment methods – feedback and continued use

As we start to see some lockdown restrictions lifted, we have begun to receive an increased number of questions around the time period for when on-site observations will start to take place, as well as, planned end dates for current flexibilities and / or approved alternative assessment methods.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education continues to confirm that they currently have no plans to revert back to the sole use of the current published assessment plans and continue to promote the use of remote assessment practice, where possible, and the continuation of the alternative assessment methods.

Following suit, Training Qualifications UK will follow this practice and are at present opting to keep all approved alternative assessment methods and flexibilities live. As some sectors begin to reopen and some Apprentices prepare to return to work, we still heavily encourage remote assessment practice wherever this is possible, to help minimise risk. Where onsite assessments are essential, we will review these on an individual Apprentice basis to ensure that we feel confident that our internal risk assessment can be satisfied, and all parties can participate in the assessment safely.

Should you need to discuss onsite assessment with us, please contact us directly at epa@tquk.og

Whilst we have always offered and championed remote assessment practice, the current situation has seen a rise in its update, further enhanced by the alternative assessment practice currently in operation. Feedback from Apprentices and Training Providers has been overwhelmingly positive and we want to thank you for your feedback. We continue to review and monitor this practice to identify how we can further improve to ensure we are offering the best possible assessment experience, for all Apprentices. Please do continue to share your feedback with us – it really is valued!

Hair Professional- FAQ and status on delivering EPA

End-Point Assessment

As you may be aware, there was an IfATE chaired Special Task Force meeting that took place earlier this week to discuss the Hair Professional Standard, at which we were in attendance. At the moment, as we await further government guidance, there was a collective agreement that no alterations to the assessment could be made during this time. Therefore, until salons start to reopen and we have a better understanding of the safe working practices and government guidelines, the End-Point Assessment for the Hair Professional Standard is still not able to take place.

Once such guidelines are published, we will continue to work with the other End-Point Assessment Organisations, Ofqual, IfATE and the Employer Group to agree a sensible and safe approach to resuming assessments, and at this stage we will be ensuring all Training Providers are contacted immediately. We understand that this is a difficult time for Training Providers and Apprentices. However, we want to ensure everyone that we are taking all possible steps to ensure that a comparable assessment opportunity is made available to Apprentices, as soon as it is safe and practicable to do so.

We would encourage Training Providers to continue to progress Apprentices through Gateway, so that we can undertake all required Gateway checks and commence with “pencil” EPA Assessor allocations, to ensure we can allocate Assessors quickly, once we are able to deliver the End-Point Assessment safely.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact us.

FAQ Document

We would also like to confirm that we have published an updated FAQ document on VERVE EPA, linked to the End-Point Assessment for this Standard. This has been created in joint consultation with the other approved End-Point Assessment Organisations, NBHF and the Employer Group.

This document is not specific to COVID-19.

Early Years Educator- Revised Assessment plan reminder and update on Mock MCQs

A reminder that the IfATE have recently published an updated Assessment Plan, for the Early Years Educator Standard. The newly updated plan can be found here: Assessment Plan

For ease we have summarised the updates:

  • First Aid Qualification
  • Criteria K14 how to respond to accidents, injuries and emergency situations.

First Aid Qualification

Plan wording has been updated, associated with the Gateway requirement for a paediatric First Aid Qualification.

The plan now reads;

“Level 3 Award in Paediatric First Aid. (RQF) or Level 3 Award in Emergency Paediatric First Aid (RQF) or complete a first aid course delivered by one of the following types of organisations, as per the EYFS requirements. Voluntary aid society, member of trade body with an approval monitoring system, or acknowledged by the Health and Safety Executive.”

This change, whilst minor in wording, means that unregulated courses (without RQF in the title) can now be used as the evidence source for this requirement, bringing it in line with the workplace requirements of the HSE.

This does not impact Gateway requirements as such, as evidence of completion via a certification or results slip is still required. However, it is hoped that this may create great flexibility in relation to acceptance of courses Apprentices may have completed.

Criteria K14 how to respond to accidents, injuries and emergency situations.

There was a discrepancy in the original Assessment Plan in relation to this criteria and in part of the plan it was aligned to the Professional Discussion, not the Knowledge Test. The revised plan confirms this criteria should be assessed by the Knowledge Test.

We have now fully updated our question bank and test paper structure and have updated three Mock Test papers, which are now LIVE on VERVE EPA. The number of questions overall within this assessment has not changed, however, the structure of the assessment has been updated to include questions against K14.

ESFA updates its guidance – updated 2nd June

The ESFA have further updated their published guidance – dated 2nd June 2020.

The update summary includes:

“Updated with information on which Apprentices should be prioritised in the offer of face-to-face training from 15 June, and details of the flexibility that enables Apprentices to take End-Point Assessment ahead of receiving their calculated Functional Skills qualification results.”

Read guidance here

IfATE Updated Guidance – updated 4th June

Keep up to date with all End-Point Assessment flexibilities, with an updated list on the IfATE’s website here

In addition to this, wider updates can be found here here

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’.

The below post features details of updates issued from both the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE)  about a number of topics: 

  • functional skills requirements
  • certificate Gateway evidence requirements
  • break in learning/extension (and pauses in EPA)
  • alternatives to observations

Functional Skills requirements

Previously, level 2 (intermediate) apprenticeships required apprentices to study towards, and attempt, the English and maths functional skills assessments at level 2. This was in addition to having achieved these qualifications at level 1. 

In light of Ofqual’s approach to assessment for vocational and technical skills during the outbreak, as well as the fact that scheduled functional skills assessments are not taking place, the rule regarding functional skills at level 2 has been temporarily suspended. 

This means that apprentices who are due to take their End-Point Assessment up until 31st July 2020 can be passed through Gateway without attempting the level 2 functional skills English and maths assessment. 

Level 2 apprentices still require a level 1 functional skills in English and/or maths in order to complete apprenticeship, and apprentices undertaking a level 3 or higher apprenticeship still need to hold or achieve an approved level 2 functional skills English and maths qualification. 

A record should be kept by providers if a level 2 apprentice did not take the level 2 assessments during this time. There will be no requirement for those apprentices who are passed through gateway to go back and take the level 2 functional skills test.

For all level 2 apprentices progressing through gateway during this period please download the TQUK “Attempt Level 2 Functional Skills” document, which will be available on VERVE EPA from tomorrow, and use this to upload as gateway evidence in place of the usually required attempt evidence.

This position will be reviewed by the ESFA in July 2020 and a decision on whether it will be continued will be made. We will keep you up to date with any further changes to this position. 

Apprentices undertaking a level 3 or higher apprenticeship are still required to hold or achieve an approved level 2 functional skills English and maths qualification, before they can successfully complete their apprenticeship.

Certificate Gateway evidence requirements

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, it may not be possible for awarding organisations to issue certificates confirming that an apprentice has completed the necessary qualifications for Gateway. 

The ESFA has now provided guidance that enables providers and employers to accept a confirmation email from their awarding organisation as evidence of achievement. This email must contain the following information to be considered authentic: 

  • learner details
  • certificate run date
  • unique number

All such confirmation emails can simply be uploaded to Verve, alongside all other gateway required documents. This will then be reviewed by the EPA Team.

Alternatively, we will also accept a screen shot from the Awarding Organisations system, again confirming the aforementioned details.

Break in learning/extension (and pauses in EPA)

Please allow us to provide further clarity, as needed, to the above terms in relation to COVID-19.

Break in Learning

A break in learning occurs when there is disruption to an apprentice’s programme and they need to take a break from their learning (or assessment). At this time, if this break is to be less than 4 weeks, neither the Training Provider nor the Employer needs to record this and both the apprentice’s planned end date and ESFA payment terms remain the same.

Where this break is to last 4 or more weeks, Training Providers/Employers are required to formally record this as a break in learning on the ILR. In such instances, the payment of funding to the Training Provider will be suspended for the duration of the break in learning. 

A break in learning can occur pre or post Gateway. 

EPA Extension

Whilst we are taking all necessary action and working closely with IfATE and individual External Quality Assurance (EQA) Providers to apply approved flexibilities and/or alterations to enable assessments to continue, this is not possible in all situations or for all standards. Therefore, where an apprentice is passed through gateway but cannot complete all or part of their End-Point Assessment, Training Providers should record a break in learning where the delay in assessments is likely to be greater than 4 weeks. 

Where a standard’s assessment plan details a specific time period for which all assessment components must be completed within, an extension can be applied of up to 12 weeks. Where TQUK is the named End-Point Assessment Organisation, we will take responsibility for recording this extension automatically and Providers do not need to make individual requests to us for this to be applied. All such records will be made available to the relevant EQA upon request.

EPA Pause

This additional term is applied by TQUK in instances whereby the assessment plan includes an assessment which takes place over a period of time and is started but is currently unable to be completed.

For example, a work-based project which is completed post gateway over a specified period of time. An apprentice may have commenced this assessment but, due to factors associated with COVID-19, they are currently unable to complete within the outlined time period. 

In these situations, we request Training Providers complete and submit a provided “Pause in Assessment” form. This confirms that the EPA clock for this assessment is “paused” and verifies that the apprentice will not continue to work on the assessment during this paused period. When the apprentice is able to commence once more, Training Providers should contact TQUK to update us so that we can resume the EPA clock and seek to complete the assessment within the detailed time frame.

Depending upon the standard and length of this pause, TQUK may also record this as an Extension and Training Providers may also be required to record as a break in learning, if longer than 4 weeks. 

For all other delays to assessments which are not associated with COVID-19,  Providers should continue to make requests in line with our Reasonable Adjustments and Special Consideration policy. 

Alternatives to observations

As indicated above we are working closely with IfATE, EQA providers and indeed other EPOAs to seek greater opportunities for assessment flexibility to enable more assessments to continue to take place. This includes where appropriate temporary alternative assessments to Observations. IfATE have launched a series of Task Force meetings to focus on specific standards where it is felt that such alternatives could safely be implemented without impacting upon the credibility of the EPA. 

To date we have provided updates to registered centres for the following three Healthcare standards that a Reflective statement with 30 min Q&A session can be used as an alternative to Observation during COVID-19:

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

Due to the speed in which these meetings need to take place, it is not possible to include all EPAOs in each and every meeting, and whilst we are active in some, we await updates to be communicated from others.

We can however at this time indicate that such a meeting has today taken place for Customer Service standards at both levels 2 & 3, and last week for Hospitality & Catering standards and we hope to provide you an update imminently on any agreed alternatives. Similarly we are involved in this meeting for the Teaching Assistant standard on Friday. 

As per our update on Friday, all approved EPAOs for the Hair Professional standard have concluded that there is no viable alternative and that delay remains the only option at this time. 

We will continue to provide all such updates as these are confirmed to us and commit to being operationally live with any replacement assessments in a timely manner. 

TQUK
VTCT

This is a collaborative statement from End-point Assessment Organisations within the hairdressing, barbering and beauty therapy services sector.

City & Guilds, VTCT and Training Qualifications UK have been working collaboratively and after much deliberation we have agreed by consensus that delay for practical observation is the only appropriate mitigation during the current COVID-19 situation for the Hair Professional and Beauty Professional standards.

Practical observation is a critical part of the End-point Assessment which ensures that the Apprentice is safe to progress into employment and to provide services to the public. Our joint priority is to ensure that we all continue to follow government guidelines to support public health.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), UK and EU governments have stressed the importance of social distancing to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. Best practice requires at least six-feet or 2m distance between yourself and others. In the hairdressing, barbering and beauty therapy industries all of our services involve close ‘human to human’ contact. Keeping everyone safe will always remain a priority. We are innovative and dynamic and we will continue to support each other in rebuilding our wonderful industry.

The collaborative statement is fully supported by both the Hair Professional and Beauty Professional Steering Groups. This current position will be continually under review and VTCT will keep you all updated with any further developments.

Working life has changed for almost everyone in the country, with remote practices now vital to help with self-isolation and social distancing practices. The world of Apprenticeships is no less affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with remote assessments now a vital necessity to keep Apprentices moving through to completion. 

Continue reading “Which Apprenticeship Standard assessments can be carried out remotely?”

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.

Bee

Latest From the Hive Read All >

Man explaining mock assessments to a group

Functional Skills Calculated Results and Team Leader/Supervisor Updates Read More >

Barbering, Functional Skills and Assessment Flexibilities Updates Read More >

Hair Professional Apprenticeship Standard

Onsite Assessment and Hair Professional Standard Updates Read More >