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 It is the IfA’s responsibility to determine whether assessment plans or standards should be amended or withdrawn.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.
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