TQUK has officially been approved to deliver End-Point Assessment for Learning and Development Practitioner and Learning and Development Consultant/Business Partner apprenticeships.

As of today, November 13th, we are the only End-Point Assessment Organisation that currently offers End-Point Assessment services for these apprenticeships. We’re very excited to begin working with employers and training providers on these exciting new standards.

What is Learning and Development?

Learning and Development (L&D) is an ongoing educational and training process that aims to improve group or individual performance within an organisation by increasing and honing skills and knowledge. L&D can be used in any area where improvement is needed or skills gaps exist. L&D initiatives are also connected to continuing professional development plans for workers to help them meet their requirements and goals.

Here are a few reasons why companies are investing in L&D

  • When employees learn new skills, they can use those skills for the company. In an ever-changing economy, organisations need to be nimble and respond to opportunities as they present themselves.
  • Employee motivation and satisfaction are incredibly important. Most people stay in roles where learning is continuous and potential for progression is always on the horizon. Learning helps keep things fresh and can help stimulate someone’s imagination and critical thinking.
  • When you engage in L&D, you are addressing your organisation’s weaknesses. By doing so, you will increase consistency, productivity, quality standards and more.
  • Offering L&D increases a company’s reputation and profile.
  • It will also decrease a company’s employee turnover.

In order to get the most out of L&D, businesses need the input of L&D professionals. As an End-Point Assessment Organisation, TQUK is dedicated to ensuring all the L&D apprentices we assess meet the highest standards so that they can meet and surpass the needs of their employers and clients.

If you’re an employer thinking of taking on an L&D apprentice, then read on to find out more about the End-Point Assessment for these L&D apprenticeships:

Learning and Development Practitioner

A Learning and Development Practitioner will specialise in creating new and useful learning and training programmes, primarily for employees of organisations. They work with organisations to design training programmes, deliver training and sustain the benefits of this training.

Learning and Development Practitioners will have experience in a particular field, which can include technical, vocational or behavioural fields, such as food preparation, software design, healthcare provision or any number of other areas. They will use their area expertise and learning and development skills to improve business performance and achieve an organisation’s goals by understanding how people learn and apply that learning in the workplace. The Learning and Development Practitioner can work in a wide range of organisations in the public, private or third sectors and will be dedicated to improving future performance in the workplace at an individual, team and organisational level.

EPA Components:

  • Work Based Project and Professional Discussion
  • Presentation based on Learning Journal

Learning and Development Consultant/Business Partner

Learning and Development Consultant/Business Partners are responsible for identifying areas of improvement in individuals, groups and organisations and finding appropriate L&D solutions to improve them. Learning and Development Consultants/Business Partners also ensure that the L&D techniques they recommend align with the strategic ambitions and objectives of the business, finding creative ways to overcome obstacles. As part of their role, they can influence key stakeholders and make decisions on what the business can and should do in an L&D context.

Learning and Development Consultants/Business Partners must also measure the outcomes and returns on investment. They will usually have expertise in a specific field, whether it be technical, vocational or behavioural.

These apprenticeships can be general or more specialised. Apprentices can focus on a specific L&D area like organisational development, digital learning, resourcing or talent management. Regardless of the area of focus, the role requires good knowledge across all areas of L&D and is business and future-focused.

The role can exist in a range of organisations that span across the private, public and third sector. The individual in this role will typically work alongside employees in Human Resources and will often be supported by an L&D Administrator or an L&D Practitioner.

EPA Components:

  • Work Based Project with Professional Discussion
  • Presentation and Q&A Based on Learning Journal

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We hope that this blog has piqued your interest in L&D apprenticeships and has demonstrated the value that any L&D apprentice can bring to your business!

To keep up to date with the latest EPA news, return to our blog, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

See you around The Hive!

This Sunday, the 11th of November, will be Armistice Day and Remembrance Day. So we’d like to highlight the importance of these days and take a moment to reflect on the past and the present.

What is Armistice Day and Remembrance Day?

Armistice Day commemorates the day that World War One ended. It honours the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany which took place on 11am on the 11th day of November in 1918 and finally stopped the fighting that raged across the world. Remembrance Day, which also commemorates the lives lost in this War, is held on the second Sunday in November, which is why both days fall on Sunday this year.

A two-minute silence is held at 11am to remember those who died in the First World War and all the other wars that came after. The first two-minute silence was held in Britain on 11th November 1919, a year after WWI ended, when King George V issued a proclamation to the public calling for a two-minute silence to remember those who had lost their lives. Many bow their head and close their eyes during these minutes and spend time reflecting and respecting those who have sacrificed their lives for their country.

Why are Poppies Significant?

In the week before Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, you’ll find poppies being sold by volunteers all over the country. Poppies have become a symbol of remembrance because they were the flowers that grew on the battlefields after WWI ended. They are bought and worn by millions across the country every year.

The Poppy Appeal is the Royal British Legion’s biggest fundraising campaign which is held every November. You can donate to The Poppy Appeal by visiting their website. Donations will go towards supporting those who are in need within the Armed Forces community.

A Time to Reflect

2018 marks the 100 year anniversary of the end of WWI. This Sunday, we ask that you put your own life in perspective as you reflect on the terrible effects of war. There are still many parts of the world afflicted by war and conflict today, and Remembrance Day is the perfect opportunity to remind oneself that we are fortunate to live in a peaceful Britain.

We’d like to end this blog with a poem to help you reflect on the past and present as Sunday arrives:

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

As the rest of England hunkers down for a night of bonfires, cider and fireworks, TQUK is hatching a cunning plot.

On this day, like Guy Fawkes on that fateful night in 1605, TQUK is staging a stunt to completely change the landscape of our workplace.

And by workplace, we mean our upper lips.

All the lads in the office decided to grow out some wily whiskers to help raise funds for men’s physical and mental health with the Movember Foundation UK that funds prostate cancer research, testicular cancer research and mental health and suicide prevention. If you get a chance, donate to the TQUK team to sponsor the growth of our magnificent moustaches.

So today, we thought we’d pay homage to one of the most iconic moustaches out there, made famous by Guy Fawkes himself: the Van Dyke.

The Van Dyke

The Van Dyke was named after the 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck and became very popular in Britain and Europe during the 1600s. The style consists of any growth of both a moustache and goatee with clean-shaven cheeks. Within those parameters, there’s loads of variation. You can have upturned whiskers and downturned whiskers, a soul patch or a balbo. The Van Dyke is a very versatile style, open to many personalities and interpretations.

Photograph by Jeremy Barker / Flicker / CC BY 2.0
Photograph by Jeremy Barker / Flicker / CC BY 2.0

Along with Guy Fawkes, other famous sporters of the Van Dyke include Charles I of England, George Armstrong Custer, Vladimir Lenin, Colonel Sanders and Johnny Depp. It is commonly known as a barber’s greatest challenge and a hipster’s fever dream.

It’s every man’s dream to have their facial hair live on in the cultural zeitgeist. Do you think the sumptuous soup strainers of TQUK will live on in similar infamy? We’ll let you decide!

Ash Smith

 

This is some bushy brilliance. Notice how the ends curl up to create an elegant, well-maintained effect. Gorgeous!

Thomas Concannon

A marvellous moustache if there ever was one. It makes us want to strap on some suspenders and visit our local speakeasy. Amazing!

Matt Garrod

A stylish and understated tache that’s the height of sophistication. Brilliant!

Kit Jenkin

Fabulous facial hair is the name of this man’s game. Look at that cocked eyebrow. Brilliant!

Samuel Rossiter

Hold on! We think we have a winner! That is a veritable Van Dyke right there!

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On Bonfire Night, when you’re huddled around a fire, keep an eye out for those pointy whiskers. It just might be a member of the TQUK team!

To get the latest news about EPA, follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram.

See you around The Hive!

We love seeing apprentices begin their apprenticeships. But after a certain amount of time, one terrible, spooky thought can run through their heads: EPA IS COMING!

EPA can loom large over an apprenticeship. But if you can pluck up some courage, you’ll see that EPA isn’t all that scary after all!

Here are 4 of the most common EPA activities that aren’t as scary as you think!

Situational Judgement/MCQ Test

This assessment activity is the most common of all. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s easy!

Loads of apprentices like to work with their hands and learn by doing, so sitting in a test centre with a written exam isn’t the ideal way for them to show their skills. Lots of people also get terrible nerves when they take tests and don’t perform at their best as a result.

But even those out there with the most intense test jitters can conquer a paper exam without batting an eye! Here are some tips:

  • Plan: No matter what your apprenticeship, this won’t be your average multiple-choice question test. It will pose real-life scenarios to you and you will have to provide appropriate responses. Revise as much as you can ahead of time to make sure you’re prepared for every possible question!
  • Jargon: Any terms you’re not sure of? Look them up! You just might run into them…
  • Relax: At the end of the day, the test is not there to make you look bad. It’s a positive experience to test your knowledge. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you’ll be to do well.

Professional Discussion

The thought of sitting down with an assessor to discuss your apprenticeship can scare the pants off some people. Will you say the right thing? More importantly, will you say the wrong thing? Yikes!

But don’t worry! This jungle cat of an activity is actually just a declawed kitten.

Here are some tips for you to slay the beast:

  • Breathe: Rather than think of it as a ‘professional’ discussion of your work, think of it as a chat with someone about what you’ve done so far. The assessor isn’t there to trip you up. They’re there to make sure you have every opportunity to succeed. So relax, and let everything come out naturally.
  • Give examples: When providing answers, it’s best to give examples of your work and experiences. This will show the breadth and depth of your work.
  • Additional evidence: If you don’t feel you’ve fully demonstrated your knowledge or experience, discuss the possibility of presenting additional evidence with your assessor. This could be something like a witness testimony or an expansion of a portfolio of evidence.

Practical Observation

This one can really wrack peoples’ nerves. Having your assessor standing over your shoulder scrutinising your every move can feel like you’re in the most unpleasant spotlight.

Don’t think of it that way! The observation is your chance to show your assessor what you can do!

Here are some top tips to get you optimised for observation:

  • Chill out: You’ve spent your apprenticeship learning all the skills you have. Now’s the best time to show them off. So relax – you’ve got this!
  • Lingo: Double check to make sure all the terms you’re using are correct.
  • Prepare: This is the most important part. There are loads of ways you can prepare for your observation. Have a chat with your assessor beforehand to see if they can suggest anything you can do to prepare.

Portfolios and Projects

Most likely, you’ve been working on your project for some months. You’ve done your research, collated your material, devised proposals to improve your business. You’ve put in lots of work. So why are you still shaking in your boots?

More than the other assessment activities, this one gives you loads of time to prepare. So here are some things to keep in mind when you’re submitting your project:

  • Double-check: No matter what you’re submitting to your assessor, cast an extra glance over everything to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. There might be some things you missed!
  • Give real examples: When creating your project, stick to using examples and evidence gained from your experience rather than any mock scenarios.
  • Check the apprenticeship standard: Make sure your project covers all necessary areas outlined in the apprenticeship standard to ensure you’re ticking all the boxes.

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See? EPA’s not so spooky after all!

To get the latest tips and tricks about EPA, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

See you around The Hive!

When people think of assessment in further education, they tend to think of an assessor standing stoically by a learner making judgements about their abilities.

But in the 21st century, such old-fashioned approaches to assessments are starting to give way to digital methods.

Digital technologies can offer a range of benefits when conducting all kinds of assessments, including:

  • The provision of immediate feedback
  • The potential to increase an apprentice’s autonomy, agency and self-regulation
  • Support for collaborative learning
  • Providing and ensuring authenticity
  • Increasing efficiency and decreasing the assessor’s workload
  • Improving learner performance
  • Improving assessment validity and reliability

We’ve found that digital tech often makes End-Point Assessment (EPA) way easier. Here are some of the ways we use it!

Online exams and invigilation

In an assessment, it’s always good to have options.

For every EPA we conduct, there is always the option of booking test centres where apprentices can take a physical paper test.

However, that’s not always the best option.

Sometimes, it makes more sense to take a test online. It saves loads of time and money. For some apprentices, it makes more sense to take a test from the comfort of their own home or workplace.

TQUK conducts online tests whenever possible and invigilates them using webcam monitoring to ensure that quality standards are maintained. Our online tests are also incorporated into our Verve EPA system, so they are easy for our assessors to manage and track. Apprentices can also access our online system to view and track their own progress.

Where possible, the apprenticeship standards have encouraged EPAOs to be as flexible as possible in offering methods of EPA delivery. And with our online MCQ tests, we’re doing just that.

Not only does an online assessment of this kind make the assessment process more efficient and cost-effective, but it’s also popular with apprentices. According to a recent Jisc report, 62 % of FE learners agreed that e-assessment is convenient and 56% said that e-assessment was more enjoyable than normal assessment.

Remote professional discussions

There are a lot of parties involved in an apprenticeship. There’s the apprentice, the assessor, the trainer, the employer, the employer’s representatives…the list can go on.

When scheduling an EPA, it can be difficult to get all these people in one place. After all, assessors have other clients, employers have lots of work to do and trainers have other apprentices to train.

Luckily, certain assessment activities, like professional discussions, can be conducted remotely. While discussions can be conducted over the phone, conferencing software like Skype or GoToMeeting offer a much richer assessment experience. These programs offer participants the option to customise their discussion by providing documents, audio files and more to give a full picture of the apprentice’s performance and abilities.

E-portfolios

Physical copies are so last year.

E-portfolios are the digital equivalent of paper portfolios, but the term also applies to the underlying systems and tools used to make them possible. The digitisation of physical portfolios offers loads of benefits to the assessment process, allowing assessors to manage electronic evidence against specific criteria. Benefits of e-portfolios include:

  • Saving time: an online system saves our assessors time by removing the need to search for relevant paper-based portfolio materials ahead of meetings, creating reports, travelling to and from meetings and following up with apprentices on their progress.
  • Easy file storage and sharing in real time: evidence can be stored securely online and files can be accessed by both assessors and apprentices. E-portfolios allow for real-time discussion and feedback.
  • Instant progress updates: EPA portfolios are available online 24/7, giving assessors the ability to record and monitor apprentice progress as it happens.
  • Access: Assessors have 24/7 access to all information whenever they need it, without the need for heavy paper-based portfolios that can get lost, damaged or destroyed.
  • Cost reduction: Assessors can log in to the system remotely and significantly reducing travel expenses to the employer’s premises.

TQUK has its own e-portfolio system, Verve EPA, which providers can use to upload an apprentice’s full portfolio. With e-portfolios, assessors, trainers, apprentices and employers are presented with a rich picture of the apprentice’s abilities that is changeable in real time.

Digital assessment trends we’re keeping our eye on

The landscape of assessment is always changing. Here are some things that may affect how assessments are conducted in the future.

  • Gamification: Video games have become so ubiquitous over the last four decades that their presence is being felt in education in a major way. Many pedagogy experts are now using video game design to create learning environments to better engage their learners. Games are increasingly being used by private companies and educational institutions to assess the abilities of learners and candidates with a range of different game types. The data from gamified assessments can also be seamlessly integrated into tracking systems to create useful analytics.
  • Virtual Aristotle: a virtual Aristotle has been the Holy Grail of education and assessment for years. The idea is to create an AI program that is so advanced that it would tailor educational activities to individual learners. Such a program would also be able to learn and develop over time to create a truly individualised and adaptable educational experience. The creation of such a program could create new and exciting assessment methods. We’re excited to see where this goes!
  • Mobile learning and assessment: Everyone has a smartphone these days, and that presents a wide range of opportunities to conduct mobile assessments. Many people feel more comfortable doing work on their mobiles than on PCs these days, so it makes sense that assessment activities will expand to suit this trend. There are challenges to adapting assessments to mobile devices, but the rewards could be enormous.

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We’re excited to see how the assessment landscape will change over the years through the advancement of new digital technology. To keep up to date with the latest EPA news from TQUK, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

See you around The Hive!

The Chef de Partie, also known as a Station Chef, is one of the hardest working members of the kitchen. They are responsible for running a specific section of the kitchen, such as the appetiser or the meat section. Without Chef de Parties, the careful division of labour in the kitchen would not be upheld, and restaurant service would fall apart. Depending on the size of the establishment, they may have several assistants or be the only worker in that department. A few examples of Chef de Partie titles can include:

  • The Butcher Chef, or the Boucher. They are in charge of preparing meats and poultry before they are delivered to their stations.
  • The Pantry Chef, or the Garde Manger. They are responsible for preparing cold dishes, such as salads and pâtés.
  • The Pastry Chef, or the Patissier. They are responsible for all baked goods–pastries and desserts abound!
  • The Vegetable Chef, or the Entremetier. They prepare items like vegetables, soups, starches and eggs.

Hiring an apprentice Chef de Partie is the perfect way to train up an individual to match your establishment’s needs so that they can fit seamlessly into your kitchen and provide much-needed help. Apprentices can also bring a wealth of benefits to your business such as an increase in productivity, a decrease in staff turnover and an influx of new ideas.

A Chef de Partie apprenticeship will typically last for 12-18 months, and apprentices will learn key skills such as:

  • How to produce a large range of dishes including meat, poultry, fish and vegetable dishes.
  • How to store ingredients and prepare dishes to deliver a quality product that is safe for the consumer.
  • How to handle multiple tasks and direct others as appropriate.
  • How to work collaboratively with their team and with colleagues in other parts of their organisation.

The End-Point Assessment

The End-Point Assessment for the Chef de Partie apprenticeship is comprised of four components including:

  • Two Hour On-Demand Multiple Choice Test
  • Four Hour Practical Observation
  • Culinary Challenge Project and Observation
  • 90-minute Professional Discussion

All assessment activities must be completed within two months at the end of the apprenticeship. The On-Demand Test, Practical Observation and Culinary Challenge can be undertaken in any order but the Professional Discussion must be the last activity completed.

Each component is given a Pass or Distinction grade. The apprentice’s final grade will be based on the combination of their overall performance in all the assessment activities. In order to pass, the apprentice must achieve 1 point for each of the four assessment components. Once the apprentice has achieved at least a pass in every assessment element, the final grade can be calculated as follows:

 

 

GRADING TABLE

 

Points for On-Demand Test + Professional Discussion

 

2

 

3

 

4

Points for Practical Observation + Culinary Challenge  

2

 

Pass

 

Pass

 

Pass

 

4

 

Pass

 

Pass

 

Pass

 

6

 

Pass

 

Distinction

 

Distinction

 

On-Demand Test

The two-hour on-demand test will be in multiple-choice format. The questions will be scenario based and will require the apprentice to show reasoning and joined up thinking. They must demonstrate that they can perform against key elements of the standard. The On-Demand Test will be on-screen and computer marked, and the assessment will take place in a ‘controlled’ environment away from the day to day pressures of work.

The questions will cover topics such as:

  • The principles of an effective team, including the roles and responsibilities of team members and how team dynamics can affect the success of the team
  • Customer preferences and customer profiling, including religious, medical and dietary requirements
  • Common categories of costs and their relative proportions in the food production industry
  • Principles of food waste control
  • Classical and modern techniques of food preparation, cooking and finishing
  • The importance of maintaining brand standards and business reputation

Practical Observation

The four-hour Practical Observation is an observation of the apprentice in the kitchen environment and must include customer interaction. During the observation, the apprentice should have the opportunity to demonstrate their competence in the preparation, cooking and service of dishes.

The Observation must:

  • Be conducted at a time which reflects typical working conditions and avoids seasonal periods of low levels of trading
  • Allow the apprentice to demonstrate all aspects of the standard being observed
  • Take a synoptic approach to observing their overall competence

The apprentice and employer must provide a two-week working schedule and must be planned in advance.

In the Practical Observation, the apprentice must show key competencies such as:

  • Ensure that all their actions are in line with the business standard and dish specification
  • Ensure that their activities comply with legal requirements, industry regulation, professional codes and organisational policies
  • Communicate effectively with their team, customers and other departments
  • Ensure the food and food production areas are prepared for service
  • Ensure that stock and resources are ready for service and address any shortages or issues with stock accordingly

Culinary Challenge Project and Observation

The three-hour Culinary Challenge and Observation will be an opportunity for the apprentice to display their precision and creativity. The Challenge requires the apprentice to design and cost a menu, which must comprise of three starters, three main courses and three desserts. The apprentice will submit this menu to the independent end assessor at least two weeks before the Observation, and the assessor will select the three dishes the apprentice must prepare in the assessment. On the day, the apprentice will produce a three-course meal from their menu for two people in three hours which will comprise of one starter, one main and one dessert. The apprentice will prepare a full recipe with a time plan before the assessment.

The menu design must adhere to certain standards outlined in the assessment plan such as:

  • It must be a three-course menu comprising of three starters, three main courses and three desserts
  • The menu should reflect current trends and should link to customer expectations, and, where appropriate, the organisation’s style
  • The apprentice must design the menu independently and should not incorporate any dishes from the organisation’s menu

In the Culinary Challenge Observation, the apprentice must follow certain guidelines such as:

  • They must prepare, cook and serve two portions of each course (starter, main course, dessert) within a three hour time window
  • Either their starter or main course must incorporate meat, fish or poultry, which must be prepared from ‘whole’ – e.g. from a whole duck, whole turbot or whole rabbit
  • Their main course must have at least two vegetable accompaniments appropriate to the dish

In order to pass the culinary challenge, the apprentice must demonstrate key competencies outlined in the standard such as:

  • Provide evidence of research into the menu and dish options appropriate to the situation
  • Produce a balanced menu with a range of dishes incorporating different skills and techniques for a range of foods
  • Produce costings for the dishes appropriate to the dish prices
  • Ensure their activities comply with legal requirements, industry regulation, professional codes and organisational policies
  • Produce dishes on time in line with menu specifications

Professional Discussion

Before the Professional Discussion, the apprentice must write a log of complex dishes which will be reviewed in the Discussion. This log is the apprentice’s opportunity to present a variety of complex dishes they have prepared with full recipes, time plans, food safety controls and photos. The log should reflect the dishes produced and should not record the individual stages of preparation. (For example, a cheese soufflé would be an appropriate inclusion but grating cheese would not.) The log can contain dishes prepared at any stage during the apprentice’s learning and development period as long as they are complex enough. The complexity of these dishes may manifest itself in any of the following:

  • The raw ingredient and the preparation methods required, for example, advanced butchery
  • The number or combination of preparation, cooking and finishing methods
  • The combination of flavours, tastes and ingredients
  • The preparation and care taken to avoid errors with technical processes
  • The precision with which preparation, cooking and service is executed
  • The tools and equipment required to produce the dish to the required standard

The 90 minute Professional Discussion is a structured discussion between the apprentice and their independent end assessor. This Discussion will require 30 minutes to be used for review of the log of complex dishes and costings for the Culinary Challenge. The Discussion will be planned in advance to allow the apprentice to prepare fully so that they can demonstrate their competence and application against multiple areas of the standard, such as dish evaluation.

The Professional Discussion will be conducted in a ‘controlled environment’ i.e. in a quiet room away from the apprentice’s normal place of work. The assessor should recognise areas which have already been covered in the Observation and Culinary Challenge so that they don’t re-assess the apprentice in an area which they’ve already demonstrated competence in.

In order to pass the Professional Discussion, the apprentice must demonstrate competencies outlined in the standard such as:

  • Explain why it is essential to instil the importance of company vision, values, empowerment and following procedures to staff
  • Provide an overview of how the food production operation meets the needs of the business and customer
  • Explain the importance of keeping up to date with current industry trends and provide examples of how this has been achieved
  • Provide evidence to show they have been part of effective planning and review in the team

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We hope this gave you some more insight into the EPA for Chef de Partie apprentices. After the completion of their apprenticeship, apprentices can progress into a senior culinary chef role and will be fully ready to help your organisation thrive!

To keep up to date with all the latest news from TQUK EPA, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

See you around The Hive!

Adam Smith once said that Britain was a “nation of shopkeepers”. For centuries, Brits have been some of the best merchants, shopkeepers, retailers, importers and exporters around the world. Trade is in our history, in our DNA.

In modern Britain, retail has seen some ups and down. UK retailers are experiencing some tough circumstances in a very competitive marketplace. They face vast amounts of disruption from price inflation, digital disruption and customization, among other things.

These challenges may be formidable, but they also present massive opportunities for retail operations to evolve and adapt to the 21st century.

There are some exciting things happening in the retail world because of these challenges, from the evolution of the high street, the balancing of digital and physical presences and sustainability. This evolution is ultimately occurring to suit the new behaviours of consumers.

In order for retailers to respond effectively to change, they need retailers who are properly trained in all the industry’s ins and outs. Apprenticeship standards are doing a fantastic job of incorporating tried-and-true methods of work with requirements for new skills that will train apprentices to take their businesses into the future.

End-Point Assessment

After a rigorous and innovative training programme, apprentices must undergo a stringent End-Point Assessment (EPA).

As an End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO), TQUK EPA is dedicated to ensuring that all standards outlined in an apprentice’s assessment plan are met. This assessment will ensure that the apprentice has all the knowledge, skills and behaviours necessary to excel in their role.

On Demand Test

The On Demand Test will be a 30 minute multiple choice test that will contain scenario-based questions. This portion of the EPA is meant to primarily test the apprentice’s knowledge of a range of subjects. Questions contained within the Test are set and marked by the EPAO and will take place either on the employer’s premises or off-site in an approved location.

The knowledge tested during the Test will include elements from the following areas:

  • Financial
  • Communications
  • Brand reputation
  • Merchandising
  • Stock
  • Marketing
  • Legal and governance
  • Environment

Some questions in the Test will require the apprentice to consider a course of action or solution to a situation/problem based in the workplace. The apprentice will be required to demonstrate reasoning and joined up thinking, showing synoptic performance against the key elements of the standard.

Apprentices will complete their Test on-screen unless otherwise arranged. Mock tests can be provided by TQUK EPA as required.

Marking

The EPA Assessor will invigilate the Test. The final test paper will be sent to TQUK EPA for marking to ensure a controlled marking process.

Practical Observation

The Practical Observation will assess the apprentice’s skills, knowledge and behaviours, and will be a planned in conjunction with the apprentice and employer. During the two hour Observation, the EPA Assessor will observe the apprentice during their normal work hours to ensure that they are fully competent in their job. The Observation must include customer interaction.

During the Observation, the apprentice will move from one area/function of the business to another to best demonstrate how they have applied their knowledge, skills and behaviours in a real work environment to achieve genuine and demanding work objectives.

The Observation will cover the following areas outlined in the apprenticeship standard:

  • Customer
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Brand reputation
  • Financial
  • Marketing
  • Sales and promotion
  • Product and service
  • Merchandising
  • Technical
  • Team
  • Legal and governance
  • Diversity
  • Environment

In the Observation, the apprentice must demonstrate competence against all the assessment criteria. In order to receive a Distinction, any opportunities to cover the assessment criteria must be taken.

The Observation will be scheduled when the apprentice will be working in their normal place of work and will also:

  • Be conducted at a time which reflects typical working conditions and avoids seasonal periods of low levels of trading
  • Allow the apprentice to demonstrate all aspects of the standard being observed
  • Take a synoptic approach to observing the overall competence

(For certain retail operations, the presence of an EPA Assessor may have an adverse impact on customer behaviour. In such a situation, should the method described above not be feasible, the EPA Assessor must propose an alternative method. This could include the EPA Assessor observing whilst posing as a customer or other member of the team and utilising additional information through audio/video recordings and witness testimonies.)

Professional Discussion

The Professional Discussion will be a one hour structured meeting between the EPA Assessor and the apprentice that will take place in a quiet, controlled environment away from the normal place of work. The Discussion will be led by the EPA Assessor and can involve input from the apprentice’s employer/supervisor to support the apprentice in their answers. The Discussion will focus on how the apprentice performed during the apprenticeship and their overall demonstration of their knowledge, skills and behaviours. The Discussion will be structured so as to bring out the apprentice’s best qualities.

It will allow the EPA Assessor to ask the apprentice questions about:

  • The period of learning, development and continuous assessment
  • Coverage of the standard
  • Personal development and reflection

The Professional Discussion will cover the following areas of the apprenticeship standard:

  • Customer
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Brand reputation
  • Financial
  • Marketing
  • Sales and promotion
  • Product and service
  • Merchandising
  • Technical
  • Team
  • Legal and governance
  • Diversity
  • Environment

The purpose of the Discussion is to plug any gaps that the assessor may have noticed during the EPA, and to elaborate on any areas that were not covered in the other two activities. It will also give the apprentice extra opportunities to display their best qualities to the assessor.

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And that’s it!

Once your apprentice has completed their EPA, they will be ready to go as a full-fledged member of your team. The future of retail is waiting for you with an apprentice ready to go!

To keep up to date with all the latest news from TQUK EPA, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

See you around The Hive!

 

One of the most interesting things about the culinary world is that so many chefs begin their career with an apprenticeship, a much larger proportion than other sectors. During culinary apprenticeships, young chefs study under the supervision of a master chef in order to soak up all their knowledge. Many apprentice chefs also travel within and outside their home countries, developing their skills by testing themselves in different environments and exposing themselves to new forms of cooking.

To show you where a culinary apprenticeship can take you, here are 8 renowned UK chefs that started out as apprentices.

Heston Blumenthal

Photograph by Andrew Kneebone / Flicker / CC BY-SA 2.0

Heston Blumenthal is a very bright star in the UK’s gastronomic landscape. When he left school at eighteen, Blumenthal began an apprenticeship at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons and over the next ten years took other odd jobs while teaching himself classical French cuisine in the evenings.

Blumenthal is best known for his revolutionary restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, The Fat Duck, that offers up multi-sensory dining experiences. It is also the place where Blumenthal further developed his unique scientific approach to cooking.

Blumenthal is not chained to culinary orthodoxy – he has come up with some of the world’s most unusual and striking dishes. Think triple cooked chips, snail porridge, parsnip cereal and even bacon and egg ice cream!

Clare Smyth

Claire Smyth is widely celebrated as one of the greatest chefs in the world, being named World’s Best Female Chef 2018 by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

It’s not surprising with such an impressive pedigree.

While at culinary college, Smyth served as an apprentice at Grayshott Hall, Surrey. She continued her training at a variety of restaurants in Australia, Cornwall and London before landing a post at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay with the titular, world-famous chef.

Her new restaurant, Core, in London’s Notting Hill, celebrates British ingredients with her most famous dish being Potato and Roe. Core was voted the World’s Third Best Restaurant by The Good Food Guide.

Gordon Ramsay

Photograph by gordonramsaysubmissions/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0
Photograph by gordonramsaysubmissions/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0

This man needs no introduction. If you haven’t seen Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen or been to one of his many restaurants around the world, then you’ve been living under a culinary rock.

Suffice to say, Ramsay is by far and away the world’s most popular chef, and certainly one of the most successful from the UK. His fiery personality and cutting-edge cuisine have made him a darling of both food connoisseurs and mainstream audiences. He owns and manages 40 restaurants worldwide that have a combined 22 Michelin stars.

Not bad for someone who started off as an apprentice in hotel management, and whose enrolment in catering college was described by the chef and businessman as “a complete accident”!

Rachel Humphrey

Rachel Humphrey is the Head Chef at the revered Le Gavroche restaurant in London and has had a long and prestigious career since she’s been there.

Humphrey joined Le Gavroche as an apprentice after leaving school in 1996, first becoming a Commis Chef in 1998, Chef De Partie in 2003 and then Sous Chef in 2004. (We think she would’ve loved our list of apprenticeship standards in hospitality!) In 2008, she was promoted to Head Chef and became the first female Head Chef in the restaurant’s 40-year history at just 30 years old.

Humphrey was instrumental in livening up the restaurant’s heavy classical French menu, emphasising seasonal produce and lighter, more contemporary dishes.

Jamie Oliver

Photograph by Land Rover MENA / Flicker / CC BY 2.0
Photograph by Land Rover MENA / Flicker / CC BY 2.0

Known for his bubbly personality and perennial nice-guy demeanour, Jamie Oliver has become one of the most well-known, well-liked and successful British chef in the last 20 years.

Oliver left school at 16 with two GCSEs in Art and Geology and began his culinary career by enrolling in a home economics apprenticeship at Westminster College. This vital stepping stone was just what he needed to get started on his now legendary career. While acting as Sous Chef at The River Café in Fulham, he was noticed by the BBC in 1997 and two years later his TV programme, The Naked Chef, debuted on the channel.

Oliver’s chain of restaurants has become well known for its apprenticeship programmes. In his establishments, many individuals coming from disadvantaged backgrounds are given a chance to succeed in the food industry.

Michael Caines

Photograph by Chris Allen / geograph.org / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photograph by Chris Allen / geograph.org / CC BY-SA 2.0

Michael Caines is perhaps one of the most impressive chefs in the UK. He’s overcome a serious disability to become an industry icon with a Europe-wide reputation for catering brilliance.

At 18, Caines attended Exeter Catering College and undertook a series of apprenticeships at impressive establishments, like the Grosvenor House Hotel and Le Manoir. Then, at age 25, he lost his arm in a car accident. This would be a hard enough ordeal for anyone, but it was even more so for a man in a profession that requires extensive use of his hands. But he did not let this tragedy stop him. He went on to become head chef at Gidley Park, winning two Michelin stars by combining classical French cooking with the finest produce in the South West of England. He also co-owns a chain of boutique hotels.

Caines has also shown a desire to promote apprenticeships in the hospitality sector. He helped pioneer the Michael Caines Academy at Exeter College, widely considered to be the ‘Oxbridge’ of the culinary world.

Monica Galetti

The Samoan-born, Kiwi, London-based chef is best known for her appearances on the hit BBC TV series, Masterchef: The Professionals. Her reputation extends inside and outside the culinary world, as she also acts as an official UK Tourism Ambassador.

Galetti’s first job was as an apprentice in a kitchen. She entered cooking competitions in Australia, America and Europe until she began to look for a position in London by sending her CV to top restaurateurs.

After moving from Wellington, New Zealand, to London, she worked her way through the ranks of the two Michelin starred Le Gavroche to become Senior Sous Chef, the first woman to hold such a position in the history of the restaurant. She later launched and was Head Chef at Le Gavroche des Tropiques in Mauritius. In 2017, she opened a new restaurant in London called Mere with her husband David Galetti that blends classical French and South Pacific influences.

Mark Jarvis

Mark Jarvis is one of the rising stars of London’s restaurant scene, with his third restaurant, Stem, opening in March 2018 to great reviews.

He began his career with an apprenticeship at Chartridge Conference Company and worked his way up the ranks of Oxfordshire kitchens to a position at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir, before opening Blanc’s pub, The Thatch, as Developing Chef in 2007. He has also worked in revered restaurants including Sauterelle, Texture, Blueprint Café and The Bingham Hotel. He’s known throughout London for his unique take on modern fusion cooking.

Jarvis is set to open even more restaurants around London if the success of his current venture continues.

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What connects all these individuals is, regardless of their style and approach to food, is their dedication to quality. No chef rises above the ranks without adhering to rigorous standards. As an EPAO, TQUK is honoured to help apprentices across the UK meet thorough EPA standards and provide them with challenges that will help them learn and grow for the future.

To keep up to date with the latest TQUK EPA news, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

See you around The Hive!

 

Do you know who to call?

EPA can be a spooky business. There are so many rules, regulations and people involved that it can feel like a paranormal world. One look at an assessment plan and you might think, “No human being would create a document like this.”

But it’s easy to make EPA work for you and your apprentice.

If you’ve got EPA problems that verge on the supernatural, then pick up the phone and call…TQUK!

No matter what your EPA troubles are, we’re ready to believe you!

Scared of the EPA process?

Did you just get to Gateway? Having some jitters about crossing those streams?

Put those fears away!

End-Point Assessment (EPA) is a pretty straightforward process. Once the apprentice reaches the end of the training programme, they must undergo a final assessment, made up of several activities, in order to ensure they have all the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need.

Starting your first EPA can be a bit daunting. But TQUK will be with you every step of the way to make sure you’re doing everything you need to do. Call 03333 583 344 to talk to our EPA professionals or read on to see all the ways we can help you.

Scared of 20% Off-the-Job Training commitments?

You may have heard some whispers about Off-the-Job Training. Some people thought this one little commitment would cause disasters of biblical proportions.

But Off-the-Job Training is an indispensable part of creating high-quality, work-ready apprentices.

The rule ensures that apprentices get plenty of time to attain all the knowledge and the skills they’ll need to perform optimally in their role. This means 20% of their contracted payable hours will be spent learning everything they need to meet all the criteria outlined in the apprenticeship standard.

The rule benefits both the employer and the apprentice. By investing time and energy early in the apprentice’s training, the employer will end up with a better-skilled worker at the end of the process, and the apprentice will be able to respond with confidence to any situation they may come across.

Scared of no resources?

Are you scared beyond the capacity of rational thought of being all alone in the EPA process?

There’s no need to fret!

TQUK has been dedicated to being that guiding hand through this scary time in the apprenticeship process. We do our utmost to engage with you early, supporting you to make all the right choices.

That’s why we created loads of resources to help all stakeholders – employers, training providers and assessors – to understand the process.

Looking for a quick and easy summary of an apprenticeship and its EPA? We’ve got Factsheets.

Apprentices need help preparing for EPA? We’ve got learner packs to help them prepare.

Want to manage and track apprentice progress? We’ve got an online EPA management tool with downloadable documents and scheduling functions so you have everything in one place.

Scared of unclear fees?

It’s hard for some EPAOs. EPA fees can go up and down depending on standards, costs and other factors. Generally, you don’t see that kind of behaviour in a company trying to offer a reliable service.

Our fees, on the other hand, are available in black and orange right here on our site. We try to offer the most competitive price we can so that you can spend your cash on more training and resources. You just have to visit one of our pages to see!

Our payment structure is also extremely flexible. Our 25% upfront cost also works for withdrawn apprentices – you can use your registration fees for your next cohort.

If you need some extra assurance, we have a price list we can send you that will have answers to all the questions you need. Just get in touch!

Worried about no mock assessments?

Every EPAO has its own myth about the end of the assessment.

We know what happens when people are properly prepared: they tend to succeed. That’s why we’ve developed a comprehensive series of mock assessments to help you get started.

Our star of the show is our mock multiple-choice question papers. When apprentices are required to take an MCQ test as part of their EPA, we provide mock MCQs to prepare apprentices for the types of subjects that will be covered and the style of questions that will be asked. By familiarising apprentices with the assessment early, they’re more likely to do well.

Scared of the Apprenticeship Levy?

Back off man, we’re an EPAO! We know what we’re talking about. And we say the Apprenticeship Levy is awesome!

The Apprenticeship Levy applies to all companies in the UK with a pay bill over £3 million. It’s meant to raise funds for apprenticeships across the UK. All funds raised through the Levy will be available to individual companies through an online portal. They’ll also be topped up by 10% by the government, giving you more cash to spend on apprenticeship training.

Money raised from the Levy will also be used for EPA. We can work with you to make sure you’re using your funds correctly.

All it takes is a little elbow grease to make this money flow. It’s there anyway – you might as well use it!

Spooked by unclear assessment plans?

Unclear assessment plans have caused some trouble. A bad assessment plan can result in total protonic reversal in an apprenticeship.

As assessment experts, TQUK makes sure we conduct fair and objective assessments of all apprentices. We make a point of going the extra mile to work with other EPAOs and the Institute of Apprenticeships to overcome any hurdle we come across.

No EQA challenge is too large for us!

Scared of first-time EPA bungles?

Doing EPA for the first time? So confused that you feel like you’ve been possessed by Zuul?

TQUK is there with Neutrona Wands in hand, ready to dispel that confusion.

EPA differs from normal types of assessment. There are loads of rules that you have to follow. For assessors conducting EPA for the first time, it can be a daunting prospect.

That’s why we offer free-of-charge EPA training to all assessors! By doing this, assessors can hit the ground running with confidence in their understanding of how EPA works.

We also offer mock versions of several assessment activities to prepare the assessor for the activities they’ll be conducting with their apprentice. This way, they’ll be able to get their EPA hats on nice and early.

Get in touch to arrange your free training session!

Afraid of minimum registrations?

A lot of employers are worried about getting slimed by minimum registrations. Many EPAOs require minimum registrations to justify the fees they charge.

Well, not us!

Based on our pricing structure and our digital platforms, we’re able to be a lot more nimble than other EPAOs. Even if you have only one apprentice registered with us, we’ll be there to help you along the way.

Just like the Ghostbusters, we’ll go wherever we have to to get the job done!

Scared of working with too many organisations?

Feel like you’re working with as many companies as ghosts in New York City?

Some employers have to work with two or more organisations throughout the apprenticeship process. This can lead to a lot of crossed lines and confusion. Wouldn’t it be better to have all services in one place?

As an awarding organisation, TQUK also delivers regulated qualifications, which can be used in conjunction with several apprenticeship standards. Instead of working with two or three organisations to get your apprentices assessed and completed, you can work with just one – us!

Our qualifications are designed as standalone qualifications and have been constructed to suit the requirements of the apprenticeship standards as well. Find out which apprenticeships you can get regulated qualifications with here.

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With our trusty assessors at hand, we’re going all around the UK, busting EPA myths.

If you want to keep up to date on all the EPAs we’re busting, you can follow our exploits on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

See you around The Hive.

As an End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO), TQUK is always on the lookout for quality people to join our End-Point Assessment (EPA) team. Within that team, EPA Assessors are the worker bees in The Hive. They’re the people who deliver the amazing service we offer.

EPA Assessors verify an apprentice’s occupational competence during their End-Point Assessment and are meant to be fair and impartial arbiters of quality. They always come to an objective assessment of an apprentice’s knowledge, skills and abilities at the end of their programme. Being an EPA Assessor also requires individuals to be flexible in their approach to assessment and create situations where an apprentice’s best qualities can shine through.

Being an EPA Assessor is one of the best jobs in further education right now, and there are loads of reasons why. To get you started, here are three perks of being an EPA Assessor!

You Can Travel All Over the UK

EPA Assessors have to be nimble. Like our symbol, the humble honeybee, they travel all across the UK, dispensing the pollen of their knowledge and experience.

As education professionals, travelling the country will increase your understanding of regional apprenticeships and further education needs. It will also allow you to expand your network, share your knowledge and experience across industries and actively contribute to spreading great educational practices.

You Can Help Improve the Economic Health of the UK

As you may have heard, the UK has a bit of a skills gap. There are widening gaps in vital sectors like healthcare, education, hospitality and more for a variety of reasons: under-investment in skills, underemployment, misemployment and Brexit. If the UK is going to compete at a high level in the global marketplace, we need to invest massively in education and skills. We’ve previously written a blog on the issue of the skills gap in healthcare and offered some solutions to the problem, so you might want to take a look!

Apprentices will play a vital role in helping to plug these skills gaps. Employers all over the country are discovering the value of investing more in apprenticeships and are hopping right on board. Not only do apprenticeships improve the economic health of the UK, but they also bring a wealth of benefits to their employers. For example, hiring an apprentice is a great way of increasing an organisation’s productivity, decreasing staff turnover and training people to have vital workplace skills.

As an EPA Assessor, you’ll be helping to secure the future economic health of the UK by ensuring that all apprentices you complete have all the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to succeed.

You Can Contribute to Creating the Next Generation of Apprentices

As an industry leading EPAO, we see the dedication and passion of our assessors every day. Assessing vocationally-related qualifications is a tough job and we are always amazed at the knowledge and experience that they display when working with their apprentices.

As an EPA Assessor and subject expert in a particular apprenticeship standard, you’ll be able to exercise your passion for your chosen field while ensuring that the next generation of apprentices survive and thrive. Doing what you love while helping individuals passionate about their programme will be all in a day’s work!

Sectors and Standards for Assessors

If you’re excited by the prospect of beginning your career in assessment, and you have experience, we would love to hear from you! Here are the sectors that are currently seeing a massive demand for EPA Assessors.

Healthcare

At the moment, there are huge staff shortages in healthcare positions all over the UK. This means that the number of healthcare apprenticeships in the coming years is set to rise, along with the need for EPA Assessors in various healthcare subjects.

See all our approved Healthcare standards below:

Hospitality

TQUK is well known for our expertise in the hospitality industry. Our training providers include some of the hospitality organisations in the UK. If you have hospitality experience and would like to share your knowledge and expertise, get in touch.

See all our approved Hospitality standards below:

Business

Business apprenticeships are sharply rising in popularity. Employers all over the UK are recruiting apprentices to develop, implement, maintain and improve all kinds of services. Business apprentices can also specialise in certain areas, from customer service to project management and learning and development. It is vital that these apprentices receive a rigorous assessment to ensure their skills are up to snuff.

See all our approved Business standards below:

Management

Management apprenticeships are by far the most popular apprenticeships among the new Trailblazer standards. They provide the training would-be managers need to get the very best out of their teams. As an EPA Assessor, you’ll help make sure these apprentices have all the skills they need to make a real impact on their business.

See all our approved Management standards below:

Retail

A new and exciting area for apprenticeships, the retail sector is in great need of skilled people to manage their operations. Retail is entering a new era, with disruptions such as online shopping, sustainability and customisation presenting massive opportunities for the sector to respond and evolve. You could help new apprentices prepare for this.

See all our approved Retail standards below:

Sales, Marketing & Procurement

In a crowded marketplace, employers need to make their organisations, products and services stand out. Apprenticeships in the Sales, Marketing and Procurement sectors will train people up to help organisations develop their profile, increase turnover and find new opportunities. Assessors in this area will need vast amounts of knowledge and experience to ensure these standards are correctly applied.

See all our approved Sales, Marketing and Procurement standards below:

HR

An often overlooked section of apprenticeships, HR apprentices are fast becoming a must-have in all organisations. The training they receive will help ensure that their companies remain compliant with employment regulation, excel at resourcing and develop in new directions. The number of apprentices in these standards are climbing, and fast. Help them become all that they can be!

See all our approved HR standards below:

Hair & Beauty

Aesthetics have a long and proud history in apprenticeships. Many young barbers, stylists and artists of all kinds enrol in these apprenticeships every year to begin their careers. You can help them become brilliant in their craft!

See all our approved Hair & Beauty standards below:

Childcare & Education

It is vital for the welfare of the next generation that we have people with the right skills to raise, nurture and educate children. Childcare and education are in-demand and stable career routes that many individuals opt for. It will be up to you, as an EPA Assessor, to apply standards so that apprentices in childcare and education can operate effectively in their workplace.

See all our approved Childcare & Education standards below:

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We hope we piqued the interest of all you potential EPA Assessors out there! If you would like more information, you can call 03333 583 344 and speak to one of the members of our EPA Team.

To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

See you around The Hive!

The Institute for Apprenticeships’ (IfA) decision to begin statutory reviews of digital apprenticeship standards is a very welcome move. TQUK believes it should be the first step in a larger push to review all standards and assessment plans, and soon.

Sir Gerry Berragan, chief executive at the IfA, said that the statutory reviews will ensure that “all apprenticeship standards [will] continue to be of high quality and meet the needs of employers.” It is the IfA’s responsibility to determine whether assessment plans or standards should be amended or withdrawn. The review, Berragan states, should be “employer-led, informed by stakeholders” and “overseen by the appropriate route panel that will underpin the quality of T-levels and apprenticeships”.

TQUK is very excited by the opportunities that statutory reviews present. Reviews are long overdue since many of the standards we have worked with have had prominent teething problems.

Statutory reviews need a new approach

The new apprenticeship standards began with a great concept. Trailblazers were brought in to help create the standards. The Trailblazers were able to outline the exact skills, knowledge and behaviours apprentices needed to excel in their role.

But the resulting assessment plans created particular difficulties.

Several standards contained assessment plans that were not as high quality as they could have been. Trailblazers and the IfA packed some assessment plans so tight that it resulted in large amounts of over-assessment. Other assessment plans did not provide clear guidance on assessment criteria for individual End-Point Assessment (EPA) activities. Still more presented inappropriate thresholds for presenting Passes, Merits and Distinctions. It was not uncommon to find assessment plans for some standards that contradicted themselves in different sections. TQUK has worked closely with other End-Point Assessment Organisations (EPAOs) and the IfA to overcome these obstacles and ensure that apprentices get a fair and impartial assessment of their abilities.

Assessments are a different story

Employers know what they need from their employees. But creating assessments is an area that requires a particular set of skills.

Trailblazers did not do a bad job creating the current crop of assessment plans. However, a lot has happened in the last year and a half. We now know where improvements can be made after seeing how the apprenticeship standards work.

The creation of new standards must be employer-led, but these statutory reviews should ensure proper input and engagement from EPAOs to create high-quality assessment plans. We are not  subject experts, but we are assessment experts. EPAOs are the perfect resource to lean on when reviewing and creating new assessment plans. We invite all Trailblazers and the IfA to consult the appropriate EPAOs as much as possible to ensure quality assessment plans are created so that we can take UK apprenticeships to the next level.

To keep up to date with all the latest news from TQUK EPA, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

See you around The Hive!

 

 

We know the benefits that apprenticeships can bring to apprentices and businesses alike. They’re one of the best ways to train individuals in their job role and teach them skills that have practical and real-world applications that help both their business and the UK economy grow.

What’s the Healthcare Situation?

Although multiple sectors across the UK are currently experiencing a skills shortage, no sector feels this shortage more keenly than healthcare.

According to Health Education England (HEE), the NHS is currently short of 42,000 staff including nurses, midwives and therapists. Staff shortages are particularly bad in mental health services, with more than 20,000 positions vacant for mental health staff in the English NHS. There is also a demand for more ambulance staff, with ambulance services in England short of almost 1,000 frontline staff.

There are multiple factors that contribute to this staff shortage. Firstly, the UK’s growing ageing population will require more healthcare services, putting more strain on the NHS and private health services. The clinical workforce is also ageing. UK nurses have an average age of 42 and 29% of nurses are aged over 50. When these workers retire, there will be a huge shortage of staff in the industry, which means that the healthcare sector must take action soon to deal with the future loss of these workers.

The current shortage of healthcare staff is already affecting the industry. According to a survey which interviewed more than 1,000 NHS employees, 80% of respondents including nurses, doctors and managers raised concerns about there being an insufficient amount of staff on duty to give patients high-quality care. One senior nurse who worked in a large A&E department said that she had to regularly manage over double the number of patients her department had capacity for, with another midwife adding that “on average, every other shift is short staffed.”

The HEE warns that the health service workforce will need to increase by 190,000 workers by 2027. The industry must be able to cope with this increase in demand for health care staff in the next few years.

So what’s the solution?

How Apprenticeships Can Help

Investing in apprenticeships is a great way to address the staff shortage problem in the healthcare industry and create a dedicated, capable and long-term workforce that will secure the future of the health service. Taking on apprentices also offers organisations a large range of benefits.

As we talked about in a previous blog, apprentices can offer businesses innovative solutions to old problems. They also increase productivity, as research has shown that employers who had an established apprenticeship programme had their productivity improved by 76%. Apprentices can also help decrease staff turnover, as nurturing apprentices throughout their programme can secure their loyalty to their company. Whitbread found that their turnover rates were 15% lower on the apprenticeship level, while nearly three-quarters of their apprentices stayed with the company for more than 12 months, compared to only a quarter of non-apprentices.

The NHS is subject to a public-sector target of 2.3% apprenticeship starts every year, which means that they already offer apprenticeships in a range of levels and careers. There are apprenticeships available across a range of jobs like Ambulance Practitioners, Clinical Healthcare Support, Emergency Care Assistance and many more.

There are many other healthcare apprenticeships out there. Some of the apprenticeships we offer End-Point Assessment for include Adult Care Worker, Healthcare Support Worker and Healthcare Assistant Practitioner. These apprenticeships will be vital in training staff to do the important, everyday work of the health service.

Adult Care Workers help provide support to individuals who face physical, emotional or intellectual challenges so that they can live as safely and independently as possible. Increasing the number of these apprenticeships will provide much needed care to the ageing UK population, as Adult Care Workers can work in residential or nursing homes, day centres, an individual’s own home and more establishments.

Healthcare Support Workers work as part of a team to deliver care to those who need it the most. They have a range of clinical duties including monitoring health conditions and tracking the recovery of their patients. An increase in Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeships will help a large variety of healthcare organisations, as after their programme, apprentices can work in hospitals, community clinics, mental health settings, GP surgeries and more.

Healthcare Assistant Practitioners work at a level above Healthcare Support Workers, and have a more in-depth understanding of the factors that influence health and ill-health. They will have skills and experience in a particular area of clinical practice. Upon completing their apprenticeship, Assistant Practitioners can work in most departments in the NHS. They will also be able to mentor healthcare assistants, trainee assistant practitioners and student nurses and provide support to the next generation of workers. If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the healthcare apprenticeships we offer EPA for, click here.

The good news is that there are already a large number of healthcare apprenticeships available. It is now up to healthcare organisations, both public and private, to promote and push the apprenticeships they offer. This way, they can increase their numbers and fill their staff shortage. They will also be rewarded in the long run with a large number of dedicated, quality staff that will help the health service survive for future generations.

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To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

See you around The Hive!

In this week’s installment of A View from the Inside, we chat with Kelle McQuade, TQUK’s Head of End-Point Assessment Organisation, about EPA, the Apprenticeship Levy, her pride in helping learners and what employers and training providers need to think about when conducting an End-Point Assessment.

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When I Grow Up…

Where are you from?

I started off in Milton Keynes, moved to Nottingham for ten years and then moved back to Milton Keynes for a long while… almost 25 years now!

Did you go to college or university?

Did A levels at college — French, Drama and History.

Why those?

Some of that was driven by my secondary school teachers. I had this one great French teacher. There were only three of us in her class at A level so the teaching experience was very close. History, I loved. I had another great teacher. He’s still teaching Music now and also just made his first movie. He was brilliant. And Drama just because I’m ever so dramatic.

What do you think your younger self would think of you today?

I think she might be surprised. I’m a little too sensible. I always wanted to be an ice skater. I equally thought I would do something within the performing arts. Turns out I can’t act, so that was out. But I definitely didn’t think I’d end up in education.

Would it really be so surprising?

When you’re young, you’re told you can do anything. You think you’ll grow up to be an actor or an astronaut. But then you turn around and say, “Hang on, this job that I was only supposed to be in for 15 months turned out to be a 15 year career.” You let things grow organically and learn not be too prescriptive about taking a particular path.

Beginning in education

When some people look back on their careers, they see the path they took as almost inevitable. Did that ever happen to you?

Yeah, actually.

The first teaching role I had was working with NEET learners aged 16-25 through the Prince’s Trust trying to give people a second chance.

It wasn’t a traditional classroom setting. When I was working at the leisure centre, I set up a rookie lifeguard programme. It was for learners who had been on their swimming lesson programme and wanted to know what came next. It kept them engaged.

We applied and got accredited to deliver the course. It was from there that a couple of lessons got taken on by a couple of schools. One of them was in one of the more deprived areas of Milton Keynes.

Sometimes, the internally suspended students would end up in our bar area. When the PE lessons were happening in the leisure centre, they weren’t allowed to take part, but they also weren’t allowed to be home. I ended up just talking to some of these students.

I remember one of them gave me so much abuse. He wanted to call everyone every name under the sun. But one day, I said to him, “What happens if I tell you my name, and you call me that?”

I don’t know how it happened, but it worked. The next time I saw him he was like, “Oh, Kelle mate, how are you?” And I thought, “Wow.” So I said, “I’m good, how are you? How was your day?” He’d say he wasn’t back in lessons yet because this happened and that happened, so we sat down and had a chat. Every time he came in he seemed a little bit calmer and a little bit more respectful to the staff.

Did you keep in touch with him?

I still see him. And he seems to be a very well rounded person, very lovely. Lots of my students have gone on to do some really wonderful things.

MKC, TQUK and EPA

You were Head of Curriculum and Innovation at Milton Keynes College. What did that involve?

I was in charge of quality and professional development. That meant I organised cross-college teaching and learning fairs, looked after the teacher training curricula and reviewed our assessor and IQA qualifications. I also had a team of innovation leaders — outstanding practitioners who taught maybe ten hours every week and taught other members of the training staff to develop their practice. We asked ourselves: what could we do to improve the learner experience and make sure that teaching, learning and assessment were as good as they could be? We wanted our learners to achieve the best results, whether that meant going for jobs, applying for an apprenticeship or going into higher education.

What was your first impression of TQUK?

Very different from other Awarding Organisations. Talking to Andy didn’t feel like a sales pitch. It felt very relaxed and open. He seemed to understand what training centres’ frustrations were. That certainly struck a chord with me. I was head of quality and point of contact for all Awarding Organisations when I worked at the college. There were frustrations with other organisations and how they operated. So there was something different about what TQUK were offering.

When you started at TQUK you were BDM, then moved to head of EPAO. Could you talk more about that?  

It was almost a natural transition. My background lent itself a lot more to EPA. It was brilliant to be involved with creating the EPAO from day one. I was already involved in the thick of the EPA conversations, looking at the directions we might go in. We needed to identify a decision maker and I guess I was just best placed. When it came down to the day to day nitty gritty of EPA, that was where I needed to be.

When you came in, the whole sector was getting used to the new reforms. What was it like to jump into a new regulatory landscape?

Coming from a college into an Awarding Organisation is so different. I don’t think I really appreciated all the work that an Awarding Organisation does. I certainly underappreciated the massive amounts of work that TQUK does with the staff size. When I started, I was overwhelmed and impressed with what was being achieved by the team. I still continue to be.

But I think coming in at a time whilst I was having to learn all about awarding and not having been exposed to the behind the scenes aspects of that before, there was a certain comfort that everybody was learning about EPA at the same time. You’re laying the track as you go along with everybody else. Unfortunately, that means that sometimes the information you need isn’t there yet — we’re still experiencing that on a weekly basis. I get impatient — I want everything to be perfect, and I want it to be perfect right now!

Guiding employers and training providers through the final assessment

What’s one question you get asked by employers or training providers that you hear too often?

What we seem to get asked a lot about recently is the 20% off-the-job training. Sometimes with that, it’s just a matter of linking people to the right information. We also get a lot of questions about VAT and how that’s different for levy and non-levy payers — where the cut-off points and the variations are. These things can get pretty complex and they need to get sorted out.

What’s one thing you wish employers or training providers knew already going into EPA?

The one thing I would say is that just because it’s called ‘End-Point Assessment’ doesn’t mean they don’t have to think about it until the very end. You need to start thinking about it at the very beginning because you need to know what that assessment is going to look like. We expect to have employers or training providers knocking at the door saying they’ve got a learner at Gateway, can we help? People should come to us at the start. That way, we could advise on the best practices throughout the process. We expect to see that shift over the next six months.

In the FE media, the reforms seem to be fairly controversial. Employers and training providers are raising concerns about how to implement the off-the-job training requirement and how the Apprenticeship Levy isn’t working. How do you address those concerns and still get people on your side?

One thing we always try to do is take the headache away from the partners we work with. We make it clear from the beginning that we know what we’re doing and understand assessment. We were very early to market with EPA so we learned some very valuable lessons with an initial low volume of learners. We’re now so well-versed that the volume has increased massively and we’re able to pass those key messages and lessons onto employers. It’s important for us to be that calm face that can offer reassurance and provide answers where we can. And where we can’t, we’re able to make some pragmatic, educated assessments of the situation. We have a reputation for being one of the best and most knowledgeable EPAOs in England — and we want to keep it that way.

Thoughts and reflections

Looking back on your time in education, what’s the one thing you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of?

I’m really proud when I see a learner — whether it’s a student or a member of staff — achieve their goals. I get to think, “I had something to do with that.” Those are the things that matter, and that’s why we do what we do — to see the end product of the services we deliver.

What about situations you look back on that make you think, “I could’ve done that better”?

When I was first teaching the NEET program covering social skills and social development, half my students were older than I was. Sometimes, you can struggle when you’re trying to offer help and it isn’t being accepted. But it isn’t until you’re a bit older that you can reflect back and think, “They weren’t in a place to acknowledge or receive that help. It wasn’t about you. It wasn’t personal.”

You’re one of the only real athletes in the office. Was exercise always a big part of your life?

I’ve always been very sporty, played hockey and netball. I’ve always been very accident-prone too. As we sit here I’m three weeks into a sprained ankle. (Laughs.)

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Mai Tais on a beach! (Laughs.)

Professionally, who knows? I don’t try to predict these things – the landscape in education is always changing. If you told me two years ago I’d be head of EPAO for an Awarding Organisation, I wouldn’t have believed you. I just enjoy the ride.

Lightning round!

You’ve now entered the lightning round! You must answer the following questions within 3 seconds or less!!

Oh God!

Who do you think would win in a fight: old Godzilla or new Godzilla?

Haven’t seen either, so couldn’t say.

Men or women?

Women.

How many streets have you lived on?

Too many, probably about 20.

Favourite member of Take That?

Gary Barlow.

What animal does Ash have tattooed on his arm?

I think it’s supposed to be a bee but it ended up being a wasp.

Love Island or Survivor?

Neither!

Favourite person in the office?

Katie, for sure.

Biggest pet peeve?

People who eat too loudly.

Favourite flavour of Fanta?

Lemon, but only while on holiday.

What is the meaning of love?

When you feel fizzy.

Like Fanta…

Yeah.

Thanks for your time!

Thanks!

~

To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

See you around The Hive!

Our EPA team is constantly working hard to add to the list of apprenticeship standards we deliver End-Point Assessment for. As a result, we’re in the works to deliver EPA for five more standards in the very near future!

Here’s a sneak peek of all the standards to come:

Teaching Assistant

Teaching Assistants can work with students across all ages in Primary, Special and Secondary education, including those who have special educational needs or emotional vulnerabilities. Their primary role is to support their class teacher and enhance their pupils’ learning by ensuring that they understand the work set, know their learning objectives and stay on task in order to make sufficient progress.

In this apprenticeship, apprentices will learn key skills such as how to support their pupils towards independent learning, how to implement effective behavior management strategies and how to work closely with teachers to ensure that their own contributions align with the teaching objectives.

The End-Point Assessment components for the Teaching Assistant Apprenticeship include:

  • Practical Observation with a Question & Answer session
  • Professional Discussion with a Portfolio of Evidence included

Successful apprentices can progress into a number of career paths in the Educational sector such as Higher Level Teaching Assistant, Assistant Teacher and Teacher.

IT Technical Salesperson

An IT Technical Salesperson specialises in selling the technical products and services of a company, such as data storage and cloud services. They must maintain good relationships with existing clients and approach potential customers with the aim of winning new business. They should also maintain a good understanding of existing and new technologies that are emerging.

In this apprenticeship, apprentices will gain knowledge of the basic elements of computer systems, learn how to negotiate and close sales and acquire a thorough understanding of the business products they are selling.

The End-Point Assessment components for the IT Technical Salesperson Apprenticeship include:

  • Summative Portfolio
  • Synoptic Project
  • Employer Reference
  • Interview

Those who are successful in completing their apprenticeship are eligible to apply for registration onto the Register of IT Technicians.

Associate Project Manager

Associate Project Managers help manage business projects by using their resources and management skills. They will know what needs to be achieved, how it will be achieved, how long it will take, how much it will cost and will work with the project team to achieve the required outcomes.

In this apprenticeship, apprentices will learn valuable skills such as how to develop project budgets, how to prepare and maintain project schedules and how to respond to any project issues.

The End-Point Assessment components for the Associate Project Manager apprenticeship include:

  • Presentation supported by a Portfolio of Evidence
  • Professional Discussion supported by the same Portfolio of Evidence

On starting the apprenticeship, apprentices can become student members of the Association for Project Management (APM). After they complete their apprenticeship successfully, they can then become eligible for associate membership. Full membership can later be attained through further experience and professional development.

Learning and Development Practitioner

Learning and Development (L&D) Practitioners are responsible for identifying learning and training needs within a business and designing training programmes to improve their organisation.

In this apprenticeship, apprentices will learn valuable skills such as how to identify and analyse learning needs, how to design training resources to meet these needs and how to monitor a learner’s progress to deliver motivational and developmental feedback.

The End-Point Assessment components for the L&D Practitioner Apprenticeship include:

  • Work Based Project and Professional Discussion
  • Presentation based on a Learning Journal

Apprentices who successfully complete their apprenticeship are eligible to apply for Associate membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) or any other professional body that recognizes this apprenticeship within its membership criteria.

Learning and Development Consultant / Business Partner

Learning and Development (L&D) Consultants are responsible for identifying areas of improvement in individuals, groups and organisations and finding appropriate learning and development solutions to improve their organisation. L&D Consultants must also measure the outcomes and return on investment of any learning interventions they implement. This role can exist in a range of organisations that span across the private, public and third sector.

In the apprenticeship, apprentices will learn a range of valuable skills including how to identify organisational skills gaps and risks, how to present a range of innovative solutions to fill these gaps and how to construct and manage an L&D project.

The End-Point Assessment components for the L&D Consultant Apprenticeship include:

  • Work Based Project with Professional Discussion
  • Presentation and Q&A based on a Learning Journal

Just as with the L&D Practitioner, apprentices who successfully complete their programme are eligible to apply for Associate membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) or any other professional body that recognizes this apprenticeship within its membership criteria.

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We hope you enjoyed that little taste of the new standards to come! If you’d like to see the existing range of apprenticeship standards we provide EPA for, click here.

To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

See you around The Hive!

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

Managers are an integral part of every business. Although their day-to-day duties differ, managers must oversee their employees, manage their budget and departmental goals and carry out all their duties in accordance with their company’s vision. A great manager juggles all of these elements seamlessly while creating a fantastic work environment where their employees are motivated and happy to work.

We thought we’d get some insight from our wonderful TQUK staff members about what makes a great manager. Here are their thoughts:

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Jana Jassova, HR Officer: “A great manager is someone who is honest, approachable, supportive and communicative. Someone who remembers that every staff member is a different individual with different needs. Someone who can lead others to success.”

Levi Clements, Exams Officer: “I think a great manager is somebody who listens to you and encourages you fully, even when you struggle. I also think that great managers are considerate, fair and approachable, which creates an open work environment where employees feel that they can communicate at any time.”

Thomas Concannon, Junior Graphic Designer: “A great manager is able to communicate well with their team and doesn’t act as if there are any barriers between themselves and their staff. They also give constructive feedback so that their employees can learn from their mistakes and grow as a result.”
Kit Jenkin, Content Officer: “A great manager is someone who’s able to effectively motivate their team, discovering the best qualities in every person and creating roles and environments where those qualities can be fully realised. Managing also means showing leadership and providing clear direction and boundaries.”

Samuel Rossiter, Content Officer: “I think a great manager leads by example and creates a positive and rewarding work environment which their staff are happy to walk into every morning. I also think great managers trust their employees, and allow them the space and time to manage their own work. This empowers their staff and allows them to thrive!”

Matt Garrod, Client Relationship Officer: “A great manager knows how to keep their team and staff motivated throughout the week. Regardless of whether it’s a Monday or a Friday, they should receive the same level of enthusiasm no matter what!”

Ash Smith, Client Relationship Officer: A great manager understands the strengths and weaknesses of their team and uses this knowledge to properly develop their members. They’re also great in bringing their ideas to the table, using their team’s strengths to work together and bring these to life. It also helps if they can keep team morale high!”

Rochelle Crichton, End-Point Assessment Officer: “A great manager is approachable, open to suggestions and actively looking for changes and improvements to help their team and department. A great manager is also happy to guide and assist their staff when necessary. They should understand the pressure and stress you may be under and be appreciative of you as an individual.”

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There you go! Our TQUK members value honesty, approachability, great communication and the ability to develop their team in their managers. We’re grateful to our Senior Management Team for embodying these values here and driving TQUK forwards while helping their employees every step of the way!

If you’re interested in pursuing a managerial position, then why not earn while you learn and enroll in a management apprenticeship? To start exploring, check out the range of management apprenticeship standards we provide End-Point Assessment for here.

To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

See you around The Hive!

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

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