The global outbreak of coronavirus has created a state of uncertainty for everyone up and down the country and around the world. We here at Training Qualifications UK are acutely aware of the impact this has had on the education sector and we’re deeply grateful to our centers, who have been active in engaging with us to work through solutions that will keep assessments taking place.
As digital literacy becomes an increasingly important basic skill, End-Point Assessment practices should strive to both support and enable digital solutions.
We are now live with the process changes we have been communicating over recent weeks. We are confident these changes will improve the experience for everyone involved and most importantly the Apprentice on their End-Point Assessment journey.
An update of all the processes that have changed is below.
Some might say that the role of an End-Point Assessor is the best role in apprenticeships. Training Qualifications UK’s End-Point Assessor Rachel Blood talks sense of achievement, flexibility with workloads and a company dedicated to supporting Apprentices. Oh and that she loves being an Assessor.
The End-Point Assessment (EPA) is coming up, and your Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Apprentice is probably preparing as best as they can.
As the Apprentice’s Trainer/Mentor, you’re doing everything you can to make sure they have all the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours they need.
But there are also loads of extra things you can do to make sure their chances of success are even greater.
In this blog, we’ll offer you some guidance and tips on how to make the EPA a true showcase of your Apprentice’s amazing abilities.
Before we get into any of the assessment components, you’ll need to do some checks.
Make sure that your Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Apprentice has completed everything below so that they can proceed on to the EPA.
In order for your Healthcare Assistant Practioner Apprentice to proceed on to EPA, they must meet the 15 standards of care as set out in the Care Certificate.
The Care Certificate is an identified set of standards that health and social care workers adhere to in their daily working life. Meeting this set of standards ensures that all workers have the same Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours to provide safe, compassionate and high-quality support.
By the end of the Formative Study, your Apprentice should be able to demonstrate the following standards:
- Understand their role;
- Their personal development;
- Duty of care;
- Equality and diversity;
- Work in a person-centred way;
- Privacy and dignity;
- Fluids and nutrition;
- Awareness of mental health, dementia and learning disability;
- Safeguarding adults;
- Safeguarding children;
- Basic life support;
- Health and safety;
- Handling information;
- Infection prevention and control.
You can find a full description of the Care Certificate standards here.
Your Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Apprentice must have received their certificates in Level 2 English and Maths by the Gateway stage to use as evidence for their readiness to undertake EPA.
Level 5 Qualification
As part of their Formative Study, your Apprentice will need to complete a regulated Level 5 occupational competence qualification.
You should keep in mind that your Apprentice needs to have achieved their qualification and received their certificate before Gateway. Keep in contact with your Awarding Organisation to ensure your Apprentice gets their certificate at the agreed time.
Some End-Point Assessment Organisations are also Awarding Organisations. You can make things simpler by having one organisation performing both functions!
Check with the Apprentice
It’s important for the Apprentice to feel confident in their abilities going into the Healthcare Assistant Practitioner EPA. If they’re a bit nervous about their EPA, here are some tips to help them get into the right mindset.
Throughout the apprenticeship program, your Apprentice will have kept a Learning Journal to reflect on their development. The Journal needs to be completed in the 3 months leading up to the EPA. Ensure that all evidence for the Journal is gathered before this point.
Once all the above criteria have been met, the Employer will make their final approval and the EPA can begin!
The EPA for the Healthcare Assistant Apprenticeship is made up of three assessment activities:
- Multiple-Choice and Short Answer Test;
- Observation of Practice;
- Reflective Journal and Interview.
Multiple Choice and Short Answer Test
First up, Knowledge!
Your Apprentice will be required to complete a Multiple Choice and Short Answer Test. This component will test their Knowledge of the following criteria in the Apprenticeship Standard:
- Principles and philosophy of health and social care;
- Physiology, organisation and function of the human body;
- Lifespan developments and healthcare needs from prenatal to end of life/bereavement;
- Research and development in the health and social care sector to inform and improve quality of care;
- Provision and promotion of holistic person centred care and support, duty of care and safeguarding of individuals;
- Importance of the strategic environment in health and social care and the implications for the individual;
- Importance of current evidence based practice within the scope of the role.
In this test, there will be 40 multiple-choice questions worth one mark each and four short answer questions (approx 250 words each) worth five marks each.
Below is the grading table for this assessment component:
|Combined multiple choice and short answer score||Grade|
TQUK uses online testing software that will allow your Apprentice to take their test on a computer. This software allows for digital invigilation and eliminates the need to book a place in a test centre.
Here are tips to help your Apprentice totally knock this assessment out of the park.
- Book extra time to review knowledge criteria: Some Apprentices might struggle with knowledge components. Even if it’s just an hour or two, try to sit down with your Apprentice to make sure their knowledge is sufficient to pass the test.
- Do a mock assessment: Mock assessments help your Apprentice get used to the assessment conditions and get a better sense of what questions will be asked of them. They’re also easy to set up and, with TQUK, free of charge. Give them a try!
- Check to see if your Apprentice has difficulties with sit-down tests: Some Apprentices don’t do well with sit-down exams as it can make them nervous and apprehensive. Once you know, you can suggest some coping strategies to help them better perform during the test.
- Review terminology: There are lots of terms specific to health and social care, and it’s easy to forget a definition here and there. Review the terminology of the sector to make sure your Apprentice understands them and is using them correctly.
- Confirm the time and date: The EPA portion of the apprenticeship can be a stressful time. Make sure your Apprentice has the times and dates right.
Observation of Practice
Next up, Skills!
During this portion of the Healthcare Assistant Practitioner EPA, the End-Point Assessor will observe the Apprentice during their normal course of work in their workplace. The Observation should take a minimum of 90 minutes but can last several hours.
To pass the Observation of Practice, your Apprentice must be able to meet the following requirements:
- Communicate complex, sensitive information through a variety of methods;
- Manage information, keeping accurate records and ensuring confidentiality;
- Use and promote a range of techniques to prevent the spread of infection including hand hygiene, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and waste management;
- Promote and maintain a safe and healthy working environment;
- Identify and manage risks;
- Demonstrate and promote what it means in practice to provide person centres care and support;
- Treat people with dignity, respecting an individual’s diversity, beliefs, culture, values, needs, privacy and preferences;
- Show respect and empathy for those you work with – have the courage to challenge areas of concern and work to best practice – be adaptable, reliable and consistent;
- Show discretion and self-awareness;
- Promote effective inter-professional and multi-disciplinary team working with peers, colleagues and staff from other agencies;
- Provide appropriate leadership within the scope of the role;
- Undertake defined clinical or therapeutic interventions appropriately delegated by a Registered Practitioner.
Here are some tips to help your Apprentice totally nail their Observation.
- Take some extra time to review Skills criteria: Go through the Apprenticeship Standard with your Apprentice and identify, in detail, what each criterion may demand, and make sure your Apprentice can do it.
- Do a mock assessment: Doing a mock assessment for an Observation would require you to come up with a structure and know what to look for. Get in touch with TQUK to get guidance on how to conduct a great mock Observation.
- Relax: An Observation can be very stressful for an Apprentice. After all, the End-Point Assessor is reviewing their every move. Calming the Apprentice’s nerves will help them relax and allow them to do their best work.
- Make sure the Apprentice knows where everything is: Your Apprentice may need to use particular items during their Observation, and they may struggle to remember where they are during the Observation. Make a checklist of important items they may need and have them double-check their location before the assessment.
Reflective Journal and Interview
Last up, the Reflective Journal and Interview!
Throughout the course of the apprenticeship, the Apprentice will complete a Reflective Journal where they will reflect on their development and the following components of the Apprenticeship Standard:
- Case management: Manage own work and caseload and implements programmes of care in line with current evidence, taking action relative to an individual’s health and care needs.
- Supervision and teaching: Allocates work to and supports the development of others and may supervise, teach, mentor and assess other staff as required.
The Journal must be 2,000 words (+/- 10%) and must include evidence of the Values and Behaviours being applied in the context of case management and supervision and teaching.
The Journal must be completed and submitted by the Apprentice in the three month period leading up to the EPA. It will then be reviewed by the End-Point Assessor and serve as a reference point for the Interview.
The Interview will be an opportunity for the Apprentice to further showcase their Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours. If the End-Point Assessor has any questions that arise from their review of the Journal, Observation or Multiple Choice and Short Answer Test, they will raise these issues during the Interview in order to clarify anything. The Interview will be a two-way dialogue.
The Reflective Journal and Interview are graded on a Pass, Merit, Distinction basis by the End-Point Assessor.
The following is a description of the grading criteria from the Apprenticeship Standard assessment plan:
Pass = Meets the Standard
The content of the Reflective Journal:
- is organised and uses a recognised referencing system;
- uses appropriate language and sentence construction but with some inaccuracies in grammar and spelling;
- is able to relate some concepts and theories to practice;
- makes satisfactory connections between learning and future practice;
- does not go outside the word limit;
- is able to engage in a professional discussion and is able to provide evidence that supports practice;
- demonstrates the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours set out in the Standard have been met.
Merit = Exceeds the Standard
The Reflective Journal content:
- is well organised and uses recognised referencing systems;
- uses appropriate language and sentence construction with accurate grammar and spelling;
- is able to relate a range of concepts and theories to their practice;
- makes good connections between learning and future practices;
- does not go outside word limit;
- is able to engage in and actively take forward a professional discussion and provides evidence that demonstrates a good level of analysis and synthesis across the range of theories and concepts applied to their practice.
Distinction = Far exceeds the Standard
The Reflective Journal content:
- is highly structured and uses a recognised referencing system extensively;
- uses appropriate language and sophisticated sentence construction with accurate grammar and spelling;
- is able to relate a wide range of concepts and theories to their practice;
- draws conclusions and makes insightful connections between learning and future practices;
- does not go outside word limit;
- is able to engage in a professional discussion in a way that demonstrates a very good exceptional knowledge of the concepts and theories they apply to their practice, including an awareness of the limitation of their knowledge and how this influences any analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge.
- Encourage your Apprentice to start their Reflective Journal early: Some Apprentices have trouble expressing themselves well in writing. If your Apprentice has trouble with their writing, advise them that the earlier they start their Reflective Journal, the better. It will give them time to review and make changes over the course of their apprenticeship.
- Reference the grading criteria: Advise your Apprentice to follow the grading criteria above for a Distinction when creating their Reflective Journal and encourage them to live up to those criteria. By following this guidance, they will be put in the best place to succeed.
- Do a mock assessment: While you can’t do a mock assessment for the Journal, you can do one for the Interview. Submit a request to TQUK asking for mock assessment materials, including mock interview questions and assessment reports, so that your Apprentice is prepared for every eventuality.
- Relax: Interviews can be stressful. Do you what you can to prepare your Apprentice and make them feel confident and comfortable before their assessment.
- Time and date: Make double-sure your Apprentice has the right time and date for their Interview.
With the guidance above, your Apprentice should have every chance to succeed during the Healthcare Assistant Practitioner EPA.
See you around The Hive!
Thinking about hiring an Apprentice? You’ve come to the perfect place! As an End-Point Assessment Organisation, we’re passionate about apprenticeships and the amazing benefits they bring to businesses across the UK. We think that all companies should hire Apprentices, and we’re not afraid to shout about it!
So, if you’re an Employer interested in hiring an Apprentice, we’re here to help! We know that there are a few rules and regulations you need to get your head around, but we’re dedicated to guiding you through the process. Below, we’ve compiled all the information that you’ll need, from start to finish, in order to hire an Apprentice and take your business to the next level.
1. Why You Should Hire an Apprentice?
Hiring an Apprentice can benefit your business in so many ways. Apprenticeships are designed to train individuals with little or no experience to become fully competent workers who have all of the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours needed to excel in their occupation.
Here are just a few things your business will benefit from by hiring an Apprentice:
- An increase in productivity – according to research by the National Apprenticeship Service, a whopping 76% of Employers said that productivity in their workplace had improved because of implementing apprenticeship programmes. 75% of Employers also reported that hiring an Apprentice improved the quality of their product or service!
- A decrease in staff turnover – investing major time and energy into training your Apprentice helps secure their loyalty to your company and decrease your staff turnover. In fact, Whitbread, the UK’s largest hotel, restaurant and coffee shop operator, found that turnover rates for entry-level, back-office roles were reduced by 15% on the apprenticeship level. Additionally, nearly three-quarters of their Apprentices stayed with the company for more than 12 months, whereas only a quarter of other employees did.
- You contribute to your community – hiring an Apprentice helps combat youth unemployment in your area while also raising your company’s profile! According to a 2015 report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, five million consumers were more likely to buy from an Apprentice Employer, and one in four consumers would even pay more for goods and services from companies that employed Apprentices.
2. Take the Plunge and Pick Your Standard
The first step to hiring an Apprentice is to identify a role within your company which you would be happy to offer an Apprentice. After that, you can pick an Apprenticeship Standard at a suitable level that matches the job role that you’d like to offer. Before you go ahead, you must ensure that you can offer your Apprentice a role which has 30 paid hours a week or more throughout their entire programme. Your Apprentice’s hours will also include any Off-the-Job Training that they must undertake.
There are a huge variety of Apprenticeship Standards available across many sectors that could benefit you and your business. As an End-Point Assessment Organisation, we offer End-Point Assessment for standards across these sectors:
3. Check the Funding You’re Eligible For
Before hiring an Apprentice, you should check the government funding that you’re eligible for. If you’d like more information about government funding, then you can check out our article Apprenticeship Funding Rules: Your Ultimate Guide which Employers, Employer-Providers and Training Providers can use to navigate the funding rules. Here’s a short summary below:
The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in 2017 in order to encourage large Employers in the UK to get more involved in the funding and execution of apprenticeships. The Apprenticeship Levy is a tax on businesses with a pay bill of over £3 million. 0.5% of their annual pay bill is collected by the government and reserved to be used as funds for apprenticeship programmes. Funds from the Apprenticeship Levy not used by Employers are reallocated to other apprenticeship programmes.
Do you pay the Apprenticeship Levy?
If you’re hiring an Apprentice and already pay the Apprenticeship Levy, then you can collect your Levy money through setting up an account on the apprenticeship service. This service will allow you to manage your funding and pay Training Providers and End-Point Assessment Organisations for their services as well. You’ll have monthly instalments sent to your apprenticeship service account, and you’ll also receive a 10% top-up from the government.
What are funding bands?
All Employers will receive funding according to the funding band allocated to their Apprenticeship Standard. Funding bands refer to the maximum amount of money the government has allocated to fund each Apprenticeship Standard and ranges from £1,500 to £27,000. Funding bands are numbered from 1-30, with one band allocated to each Apprenticeship Standard. If you pay the Apprenticeship Levy and the costs of your apprenticeship go over the funding band maximum, then you’ll need to pay the difference with other funds from your own budget.
Are you exempt from the Apprenticeship Levy?
Employers who do not pay the Apprenticeship Levy will have to pay a co-investment rate of 5%. This means that the government will pay 95% of the costs of the apprenticeship up to the funding band maximum, and you’ll have to pay the remaining 5% of the costs. However, if the costs of the apprenticeship exceed the funding band maximum, then you’ll need to pay the difference.
4. Does Your Apprentice Tick All The Boxes?
Before hiring an Apprentice, you must check that they meet the following checklist. Your Apprentice must be:
- 16 years old or older;
- Out of full-time education;
- Live in England or the country where your company is based;
- Have the right to work in England or the country where the company is based;
- Spend at least 50% of their working hours in England or the country where your company is based.
If you’re an Employer based in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, it may be worth contacting your local apprenticeship authority to find out more details:
5. Find Your Perfect Training Provider
Next, you should find a Training Provider for your Apprentice that offers training for your selected Apprenticeship Standard. The Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers is a great place to start looking, as it contains an extensive list of Training Providers who are eligible to train Apprentices.
If you’re based in England, you can also use the find apprenticeship training tool from gov.uk. Simply click on the link and search for an Apprenticeship Standard by job role or keyword. When you click on your chosen standard you can then start finding a Training Provider. If you already know the name of a Provider which you might be interested in using, then you can also find a Training Provider directly by name.
6. Spread the Message and Advertise Your Apprenticeship
After you’ve chosen your Training Provider, you’ll need to advertise your apprenticeship vacancy and wait for those applications to roll in! Conveniently, you won’t have to do this yourself, as your Training Provider will do this for you through the find an apprenticeship service.
Top Tip: If you’re writing the job description for your Apprentice, include the same details that you would if advertising for a normal job role. Outline the desired qualities that you’d like in a candidate, include a job title, and describe the main duties that your Apprentice will be undertaking along with the purpose of their role.
7. Interview Your Batch of Candidates
Interview your Apprentice candidates as you would any other candidate. Make sure you prepare a list of questions you can use to fairly assess their personality and competence that allows them to show the very best of themselves. If you already have a bank of questions that you use for the role that you’re advertising, you can also use those in your interviews.
Top Tip: Apprentices don’t need to have any former work experience to apply for or enrol in an apprenticeship, so they may not have any. By putting more value on their character than their CV, you’ll have a better chance of finding the right candidate.
8. Pick Your Winner and Sign those Contracts
After you’ve picked the right candidate, you’ll need to sign an apprenticeship agreement with them. Your apprenticeship agreement will describe what you agree to do for your Apprentice, and will outline things like:
- How long you’ll employ them for;
- The type of training that you’ll give them;
- Their working conditions;
- The qualifications that they’re working towards.
You can write your own apprenticeship agreement, but the UK government also provides an apprenticeship agreement template that you can fill out instead.
You’ll also have to sign a commitment statement with your Apprentice and your Training Provider. Your commitment statement must include:
- The planned content of the apprenticeship programme and the schedule for training;
- What is expected and offered by you, the Employer, the Training Provider and the Apprentice;
- How to resolve queries or complaints.
9. Check How Much You Should Pay Your Apprentice
The minimum that you can pay your Apprentice is the National Minimum Wage, which is currently £3.90/hour. This rate applies to Apprentices who are under 19 and those who are over 19 in the first year of their apprenticeship.
If your Apprentice is over the age of 19 and has completed the first year of their apprenticeship, then you’ll need to pay them the minimum wage rate for their age. So, for example, if your Apprentice is 20 and has completed the first year of their apprenticeship, then you’ll need to pay them the minimum hourly rate for their age group. You can check the minimum wage rates here.
You must pay your Apprentices for their normal working hours, which includes training that is part of their apprenticeship, such as Off-the-Job Training. Apprentices are also entitled to the other benefits and pay that employees at your company receive who are at a similar level. This could include paid holidays and sick pay.
10. Pick Your End-Point Assessment Organisation
End-Point Assessment is the final test for Apprentices during their apprenticeship. This final test includes a mix of assessment activities that Apprentices must complete in order to pass their apprenticeship.
As an Employer, you’ll need to choose the End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) that will deliver your Apprentice’s End-Point Assessment. You can find an EPAO from the Register of End-Point Assessment Organisations.
We offer End-Point Assessment for a range of Apprenticeship Standards across multiple sectors. If you’re interested in using our services then you can fill in our contact form or alternatively give us a ring at (+44) 03333 583344. We’d be happy to help!
11. Support Your Apprentice throughout their Programme
There are many things that you can do to support your Apprentice as they begin to work for you. Some tips include:
- Providing them with a great induction to their role and making their introduction period as thorough as possible;
- Helping them feel comfortable in their surroundings and remaining approachable and open throughout their programme in case they have any questions or concerns;
- Offering support and training opportunities in order to show them that you’re dedicated to helping them with their personal and professional development.
You can read our Supporting Your Apprentice page for more advice!
End-Point Assessment Support
If your Apprentice is nervous about their End-Point Assessment, then don’t worry! We’ve got some articles that can help them ease their nerves, including How to Prepare for EPA and 5 Cool Ways to Get Into a Good EPA Mindset. We also offer a whole hive of resources that our Apprentices can use to learn more about their apprenticeship and what their End-Point Assessment will entail!
Here are some additional pages that you may find useful:
And there you have it! We hope this guide helps all interested Employers with hiring an Apprentice and taking their business to the next level!
If you’re interested in using us as your End-Point Assessment Organisation, then you can go to our End-Point Assessment Sectors page.
See you around The Hive!
As an End-Point Assessment Organisation, we are keenly aware of how difficult and confusing apprenticeship funding rules can be. You just want to deliver your apprenticeship program, and then you find out that there are all these complex rules you have to know.
We sympathise. After all, we have to follow them, too!
These rules can be labyrinthine, opaque and positively filled with asterisks of every variety.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. And that’s why we created this ultimate guide.
Whether you’re an Employer, Employer-Provider or Training Provider, we’re going to make all these apprenticeship funding rules as simple as possible.
But first, we need to get a handle on what we’re talking about.
What Are Apprenticeship Standards?
All apprenticeship programmes delivered by Employers are created and delivered against Apprenticeship Standards. Included in these new and improved standards, different from the apprenticeship frameworks that came before them, are a series of knowledge, skills and behaviour criteria created by groups of Employers and recognised by the government.
No matter what apprenticeship you’re delivering, your apprentice’s training must develop against these standards.
This was done in order for apprenticeship programmes to deliver the knowledge, skills and behaviours that employers need in their apprentices.
If you’d like to see the knowledge, skills and behaviours that your apprenticeship standard will require, visit the Institute for Apprenticeship and Technical Education and search for the apprenticeship programme you want to deliver. The corresponding standard will tell you everything they will learn during their training.
Naturally, the type of training they receive will directly affect the funding they get.
All About the Apprenticeship Levy
As part of the 2017 apprenticeship reforms, the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in order to get large employers more involved in the funding and execution of apprenticeship programmes.
This made a lot of sense. There were loads of large organisations out there sitting on large piles of money, not doing anything. So, the government thought, if there’s a skills shortage, why not give big employers a little push to invest in apprenticeships and further education?
And so, the Apprenticeship Levy was born.
In effect, the Apprenticeship Levy is a tax on businesses with a pay bill over £3 million. 0.5% of the cost of their pay bill is collected by the government and reserved for use by that Employer for apprenticeships. Any funds raised that are not used by that employer are reallocated to other apprenticeship programs.
Apprenticeship Funding Rules for Employers
The government funds the vast majority of apprenticeship provision. This is great news for you, the Employer. Apprenticeships are a great way of training new people and ensuring you have the skilled and dedicated staff that will take your company to the next level.
As an Employer, you’ll need to know quite a bit about apprenticeship funding rules, since the nature of the funding you receive is largely dependent on what kind of company you have and the apprenticeship you’re delivering.
Don’t worry, though. Take our hand and we’ll guide you through all the ins and outs of your funding journey.
Setting up an apprenticeship service account
In order to get access to government funding for your apprenticeship program, you’ll need to create an account on the apprenticeship service. This is a digital interface designed to support the uptake of apprenticeships.
You will use the apprenticeship service to manage your apprenticeship funding and pay Training Providers and End-Point Assessment Organisations for their services.
Negotiating prices for training
Once you’ve set up your apprentice service account and your apprentice has started their apprenticeship program, you will need to choose a Training Provider that can deliver your apprentice’s training. You can find an appropriate Training Provider on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers.
You and the Training Provider must negotiate a price for the total cost of each apprenticeship, including the training costs and any subcontracted training. This cost must include the cost of End-Point Assessment, which tends to be more no more than 20% of the funding band maximum.
Key things to keep in mind:
- When negotiating the price, you should include any training that overlaps with an apprentice’s prior learning or qualifications. The Training Provider should take prior learning into account when negotiating with you.
- Every apprenticeship is entitled to a certain amount of government funding. If the price you negotiate with the Training Provider is higher than the funding band maximum, you must pay the difference. This difference cannot be funded from your apprenticeship service account or co-investment. (More on the co-investment later.)
Levy-Payers and Co-Investors
Once you have negotiated a price for the training for your apprenticeship, you will need to start paying your Training Provider for their services.
But with what money, you ask?
That’s a great question.
Once you have registered your apprenticeship program on the apprenticeship service, you’ll have access to cash. The source of cash and how you pay it will depend on the size of your organisation.
Apprenticeship Levy Payers
If your organisation pays the Apprenticeship Levy, you will have monthly instalments sent to your apprenticeship service account. How much you receive will depend on how much your business has paid for the Apprenticeship Levy. The amount of funding you receive will also include a 10% top-up. Payments will be taken according to the planned duration of the apprenticeship regardless of how training is scheduled.
What about Employers with a Pay Bill Of Less Than £3 Million?
Employers that do not pay the Levy must pay a co-investment fee for their apprenticeship program.
The current co-investment rate stands at 5%.
The government will pay the remaining 95% of the cost of the apprenticeship, up to the funding band maximum.
Where the funding band maximum is exceeded, you must pay all the additional costs above the funding band maximum.
You may agree on a schedule of co-investment payments with your Training Provider, which does not need to match the payments made by each month. However, this payment should ensure that your contributions are at least equal to the required co-investment when your Training Provider reports your contributions.
In order for an apprentice to complete their apprenticeship, they will need to undergo End-Point Assessment.
End-Point Assessment is the final test that verifies that the apprentice has attained all the knowledge, skills and behaviours outlined in the Apprenticeship Standard.
An apprentice can only undertake End-Point Assessment once they have:
- Met the minimum duration of the apprenticeship;
- Satisfied the Gateway requirements set out in the assessment plan (you can access the assessment plan on the designated page for the apprenticeship on the IFATE website);
- You, as the Employer, are confident that the apprentice is ready to undertake the final test.
Before Gateway, you will need to select an End-Point Assessment Organisation to deliver End-Point Assessment. You can find all approved EPAOs on the Register of End-Point Assessment Organisations.
After you have done so, the Training Provider will get into contact with the EPAO and will lead the relationship with them. This allows the Training Provider to make payment for the End-Point Assessment on your behalf. A written agreement will be drawn up, including arrangements for sharing information with the apprentice, re-takes and payment times.
Be sure that the price you agree with the Training Provider includes the cost of the End-Point Assessment. (This includes the cost of external quality assurance.)
End-Point Assessment tends not to cost more than 20% of the funding band maximum for the apprenticeship.
To see the full list of apprenticeship funding rules for Employers, visit the IFATE website.
Apprenticeship Funding Rules for Employer-Providers
This section is for Employer-Providers: employers that have the ability to offer an apprenticeship programme and provide the necessary training.
The funding rules that apply to you are slightly different from those that apply to Employers.
Many of the rules that apply to Employers apply to Employer-Providers as well, so be sure to peruse the sections above.
However, the sections below detail many areas that apply to Employer-Providers specifically.
Assessing the cost of your programme
As an Employer-Provider, you will need to determine the cost of the apprenticeship programme you want to deliver.
You will need to assess the cost of your apprenticeship program and set it against the appropriate government funding band. Costs that are eligible for government funding include:
- Delivery of training or Off-the-Job Training through a supporting Training Provider. This could include some or all of the training aspects of a licence to practice or a non-mandatory qualification. There must be a clear overlap between the training and the Apprenticeship Standard criteria;
- Registration, examination and certification costs;
- On-programme assessment;
- Self-directed, online and/or blended learning;
- Materials used in the apprenticeship delivery (ie equipment and/or supplies);
- Admin included in apprenticeship delivery, including End-Point Assessment;
- Time spent by employees/managers supporting or mentoring apprentices;
- Additional learning required to re-take an exam related to a qualification or a portion of the End-Point Assessment.
If any of the costs from the above activities are brought in from a third party, they will be funded.
Contracting and subcontracting
The rules say that funding for your apprenticeship will be routed through you. This includes funding for English and Maths Functional Skills qualifications.
Do not use any subcontractor that subcontracts out to a second level. All your subcontractors must be contracted directly by you.
Since you are delivering the training and assessment, you need to report the full cost of it, including the End-Point Assessment, to the ESFA. This will determine how much of the funds in your apprenticeship service account or government-employer co-investment can be used.
- Must enter costs for training and End-Point Assessment into the individualised learning record;
- Must evidence how all costs are calculated;
- Must account for an apprentice’s prior learning;
- Can include payroll, pay slips, expense claims, hourly pay rates for staff delivery training and assessment of apprentices and training plans that include the hours of training delivered;
- Can claim salaries plus on-program costs of employees directly involved in the administration of apprenticeship training;
- Can claim accommodation and facilities where you can show that it has been used for training or End-Point Assessment;
If the costs you calculate are more than the maximum allowed by the funding band, you must pay the difference between the band maximum and the total cost. This difference cannot be funded by your apprenticeship service account or your co-investment.
To see the full list of apprenticeship funding rules for Employer-Providers, visit the IFATE website.
Apprenticeship Funding Rules for Training Providers
As a Training Provider, the funding rules you have to follow have a lot to do with the costing of the apprenticeship and the receipt of apprenticeship funding.
The sections below detail the specific apprenticeship funding rules that apply to you.
Learning support and reasonable adjustments
You can get financial support from the government for reasonable adjustments for apprentices with learning difficulties or disabilities.
If you are training an apprentice with learning difficulties, you will need to:
- Conduct an assessment to identify the support needed;
- Deliver support to meet the apprentice’s identified needs and review progress;
- Record and gather the appropriate evidence to show that the actions have been completed and outcomes are recorded;
- Report in the ILR that an apprentice has a learning support need and what that support need is.
Learning support will be fixed at a monthly rate of £150 when it has been reported in the ILR for the months in which there is an identified learning need. If your costs exceed £150 per month but are less than £19,000 per annum, you can claim via the earning adjustments statement.
You must promptly claim for learning support through the ILR and the EAS. The government will not pay you for claims from a previous funding year if you do not claim on time.
What can be funded?
Before you begin the training process, make sure your apprentice’s Apprenticeship Standard is approved on your Employer’s apprenticeship service account.
Funds received from this account (and the co-investment) must only be used to cover the costs of training and End-Point Assessment.
The following is a list of eligible costs for funding:
- Off-the-Job Training through a Training Provider, or evidenced costs for Employer-Provider delivery. If the training includes a licence to practice or a non-mandatory qualification, there must be a clear overlap between this training and the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for the Apprenticeship Standard;
- Registration, examination and certification costs associated with mandatory qualifications;
- On-programme assessments;
- Self-directed distance learning, online learning and/or blended learning;
- Materials used in the delivery of the apprenticeship;
- Any costs of administration directly related to the delivery of the apprenticeship;
- Time spent by managers/employees supporting or mentoring apprentices;
- Additional learning and/or the cost of re-taking an exam linked to a mandatory qualification or any component of the End-Point Assessment.
The activities above should be included in the price you negotiate with the Employer, which should include the price of End-Point Assessment.
Any of these costs can be brought in from a third party, and the government will fund them.
Where you buy the delivery of training from a third party, you must follow subcontracting rules (see below). Funds from an Employer’s apprenticeship service account or co-investment must not be used to fund other services from a third party.
You cannot claim government funding for the following costs:
- Enrolment, induction, prior assessment, initial assessment, etc;
- Apprentice travel costs;
- Apprentice wages;
- Any protective clothing/equipment required by the apprentice;
- Development of teaching materials;
- Off-the-Job Training delivered by self-directed distance learning;
- Any training, optional modules, educational trips or trips to professional events in excess of those required to meet the Apprenticeship Standard. This includes training solely and specifically required for a licence to practice;
- Any fees to a third party associated with a licence to practice;
- Any fees for non-mandatory qualifications, including registration, examination and certification;
- Student membership fees;
- End-Point Assessment costs incurred but not included in the price negotiated between the Employer and EPAO;
- Functional Skills qualifications;
- Repeating the same regulated qualification where the apprentice has already achieved it;
- Accommodation costs for the apprentice incurred because of their day-to-day work;
- Capital purchases and their maintenance;
- Time spent by managers/employees supporting or mentoring the apprentice in areas that are not directly related to apprenticeship training and assessment;
- Specific services not related to the delivery and administration of the apprenticeship.
You and the Employer will receive a payment towards the additional cost associated with training if, at the start of the apprenticeship, the apprentice is:
- Between 16 and 18 years;
- Between 19 and 24 years and has either an Education, Health and Care plan provided by their local authority or has been in the care of their local authority.
As a Training Provider, you will be in charge of preparing the apprentice for the End-Point Assessment.
When working with an Apprenticeship Standard, the Employer will receive government funding up to the funding band limit, which will include the cost of the End-Point Assessment. Monthly instalments will be transferred to you via the Employer’s apprenticeship service account.
Upon completion of the End-Point Assessment, you will pay the End-Point Assessment Organisation for the End-Point Assessment. The Employer will then transfer the agreed amount for End-Point Assessment to you.
If the End-Point Assessment ends up costing more than the agreed cost up to the funding band maximum, you must pay the difference.
You must ensure that the price you agree with the Employer for the apprenticeship includes the amount the Employer has negotiated with the End-Point Assessment Organisation. This includes the cost of external quality assurance.
Be sure to keep records of payment to your EPAO.
Contracting and subcontracting
You can use subcontractors to complement your delivery if requested by the Employer and agreed at the start of the apprenticeship. Subcontractors can deliver full or part of the apprenticeship training.
If you are going to use a subcontractor, they must:
- Be published on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers;
- Be either the apprentice’s employer, a connected company or charity; or
- Deliver less than £100,000 of apprenticeship training and on-programme assessment under contract across all main providers and employer-providers between 1 April and 31 March each year.
You must perform your own due diligence and research subcontractors to ensure they have quality provision and robust procedures. You must not use a subcontractor where they subcontract out to a second level.
Calculating the cost of an apprenticeship
You, along with the Employer, will negotiate a price for the total cost of each apprenticeship, including training costs and any subcontracted training. These costs must include the cost of End-Point Assessment, which will be negotiated between the Employer and the End-Point Assessment Organisation.
- You must account for prior learning when negotiating a price and document how you assessed prior learning.
- You must enter the prices for training and End-Point Assessment onto the ILR.
You must not offset the negotiated price with costs of any service provided by the Employer.
Once the price is negotiated, the price upon completion should not be higher.
Where apprenticeship training is not funded from the Employer’s apprenticeship service account, Employers will co-invest 5% of the total negotiated price up to the funding band maximum.
Ensure that you keep evidence of the Employer’s co-investment contribution. Doing so will ensure that funding from the government will continue to be sent to the Employer.
It will be up to you and the Employer to determine a payment schedule for their co-investment. This means the payments could fall outside of a monthly structure.
Exceptions to the Employer co-investments restrictions are:
- English and maths;
- Where the Employer qualifies for extra support for small employers;
- Learning support for the apprentice;
- For any additional payment and disadvantage funding; and
- Where the Employer delivers their own staff as an Employer-Provider.
At least every three months, you must:
- Have collected matching co-investment from Employers; and
- Report the cash value, on the ILR, of total employer contributions.
To see the full list of apprenticeship funding rules for Employer-Providers, visit the IFATE website.
We hope this gave you a better idea of the funding rules involved in apprenticeships. However, to get into the nitty-gritty detail, dive into the IFATE website to make sure your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted.
See you around The Hive!
We get a lot of questions about the Adult Care Worker EPA.
After all, the Adult Care Worker standard is by far one of the most popular apprenticeships in the UK. The shortage of skilled workers in adult care and other healthcare sectors makes a subsidised apprenticeship program all the more attractive. Hospitals, care homes, day centres and other employers are jumping on the opportunity.
If your Adult Care Worker apprentices are about to go through EPA, this blog will take you through all of the assessment activities that this standard entails to help you ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible.
Situational Judgement Test
First up, knowledge. This is the assessment activity that will primarily assess your apprentice’s knowledge against all of the standards set out in the Apprenticeship Standard. Your apprentice should ideally be reviewing the Apprenticeship Standard regularly to make sure they’re fulfilling all of the required standards.
The Situational Judgement Test is a multiple choice question test containing 60 questions. These questions are drawn from a question bank created by TQUK EPA and are specifically designed to address all knowledge standards. The test will primarily focus on higher-order competencies.
The questions asked are situational in nature – that is, they will present scenarios based on real-life work-based activities to which the apprentice will have to provide an in-depth answer or solution.
The grade for the Situational Judgement Test is determined based on the following thresholds:
- Pass: 40-49 correct answers
- Merit: 50-55 correct answers
- Distinction: 55+ correct answers
In order to help your apprentice achieve the best possible result in their Situational Judgement Test, here are some things you can do to help them along the way:
Once the Situational Judgement Test has been achieved, your Adult Care Worker will move on to the second half of their EPA: the Professional Discussion. This is where your apprentice’s skills and behaviours will be assessed, along with some bits and pieces of knowledge here and there.
The Professional Discussion is a structured discussion between the apprentice and the End-Point Assessor. It will last approximately 45 minutes.
The Discussion addresses many areas of the apprentice’s prior learning and experience during the apprenticeship. During the assessment, the End-point Assessor will ask the apprentice a series of standardised questions. These questions are developed by TQUK and are designed to address the skills and behaviours outlined in the Apprenticeship Standard. The answers the apprentice provides should be supported by self-assessments, supporting evidence and testimonies from service users, which they will bring to the Discussion.
The grading criteria used by TQUK will also be freely available to all parties so that employers and apprentices can prepare for the assessment. Please contact TQUK EPA if you have any questions about the Professional Discussion.
- Do a mock discussion: Doing a mock Professional Discussion with your apprentice will help prepare them for the format of the assessment and will give them a better idea of the questions. Please contact TQUK EPA for further guidance on how to conduct a mock discussion.
- Review all ACW terminology: The adult care sector has a lot of terminology and jargon. Be sure to review commonly-used terms so that your apprentice is using them correctly. After all, it’s vital that your apprentice demonstrates that they know what they’re talking about!
- Get reasonable adjustments made: Your apprentice might need to have adjustments made to the assessment, for instance, if they have any disabilities. Be sure to anticipate whatever needs they may have.
- Seek guidance from the End-Point Assessor: The End-Point Assessor is there to help you and the apprentice, and will provide whatever guidance and information they can supply about the EPA.
The final grade for the apprentice will be determined based on the following table.
|Situational Judgement Test||Pass||Pass||Merit||Merit|
And that’s all! We hope this gives you a better idea of what’s involved in the Adult Care Worker EPA and what you and your apprentice can do to prepare.
See you around The Hive!
Ever since TQUK EPA started offering End-Point Assessment for the Teaching Assistant Apprenticeship Standard, we’ve gotten a lot of questions from employers about how they can help their apprentices prepare for it.
It’s great to see employers so invested in their apprentices, so we wanted to do a bit more to help them out! If you have an apprentice about to take their End-Point Assessment, there’s a lot you can do to make sure they succeed.
Your Teaching Assistant
Even before your Teaching Assistant apprentice undertakes their End-Point Assessment, they already bring a ton of value to the classroom. Teaching Assistant apprentices can work in primary, special and secondary education, across all age ranges. Their roles can include providing for special educational needs and emotional vulnerabilities. They are vital assets to have to make sure classes function for all students involved.
Throughout their apprenticeship they’ll attain vital knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to excel in their job, including understanding how pupils learn and develop, getting familiar with curriculums and knowing how to deliver them, developing strategies for learning and support, understanding how to promote professional standards and learning how to maintain professional relationships across your organisation. Throughout their programme they’ll complete their training, ace their work and pass Gateway.
Now, it’s time for the final test: the End-Point Assessment.
The End-Point Assessment for Teaching Assistant apprentices is made up of the following assessment activities:
- Practical Observation with Question and Answers
- Professional Discussion supported by Portfolio of Evidence
Practical Observation with Question and Answers
What is a Practical Observation?
In a Practical Observation, the End-Point Assessor will observe the apprentice undertaking a defined set of tasks related to their job role. The apprentice will be observed undertaking these activities while the End-Point Assessor notes and records performance and achievement against defined criteria outlined in the Apprenticeship Standard. Generally, Practical Observations assess skills and behaviours, but a well-designed Observation will assess knowledge, skills AND behaviours. An Observation also pairs well with a Professional Discussion to bring out the underpinning knowledge, so the End-Point Assessor can get a broad view of the apprentice’s competence by both observing them undertake tasks and asking them about these tasks (ie ‘I just saw you do it – now tell me why you did it’).
What Happens in the Assessment?
All details of the event (venue, date, time) will be planned by the employer, the apprentice and the End-Point Assessor before the assessment takes place (ideally during the Gateway stage).
The Practical Observation for the Teaching Assistant End-Point Assessment will take place on location and will be conducted by the End-Point Assessor. The Observation will last approximately 2 hours. The Question and Answer session will last for approximately 15 minutes after the end of the Observation.
The Observation will:
- Reflect the apprentice’s genuine and typical working conditions;
- Allow the apprentice to demonstrate all of the Apprenticeship Standard criteria;
- Take a synoptic approach to assessing the knowledge, skills and behaviours (ie will assess how knowledge, skills and behaviours are connected and overlap);
- Be carried out on a one-to-one basis (only one apprentice is allowed to be observed at a time).
During the Observation, the apprentice will demonstrate the ability to, among other things:
- Deliver/lead small group teaching within clearly defined/planned parameters using initiative, sensitivity and understanding;
- Implement current statutory guidance including ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ Part 1, safeguarding policies and the Prevent Strategy;
- Use specific feedback to help pupils make progress;
- Use relevant technology competently and effectively to improve learning;
- Recognise the difference between pastoral and academic issues and model good behaviour for learning;
- Contribute to a range of assessment processes and use information effectively – for example, written records;
- Work closely with teachers to ensure their own contribution aligns with teaching.
Once the Observation is complete, the End-Point Assessor will conduct a Question and Answer session with the apprentice. This session will allow the End-Point Assessor to further question the apprentice in areas that they have partially demonstrated during the Observation in order to provide additional assurance.
Questions that the End-Point Assessor asks the apprentice will be written by the End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). All EPAOs will keep a bank of test questions ready for the Question and Answer session, which is reviewed regularly to ensure unpredictability.
Top Tips: How to Help your Apprentice Prepare for their Practical Observation
- Do a mock assessment: Conducting a mock observation with your apprentice will help prepare them for the assessment format and give them a sense of what kind of tasks they will perform. Get in touch with your EPAO for guidance on how to conduct a mock assessment.
- Make sure the apprentice knows the time and date: The End-Point Assessment can be a very busy time. It’s easy for apprentices to fudge their schedules. Double-check that they know where to go and what to do.
- Review specific topics and terminology: Check out the Apprenticeship Standard to ensure that your apprentice is meeting all the knowledge, skills and behaviours criteria that will be assessed during the Observation and the Question and Answer session.
- Prepare for the Question and Answer session: It can be easy to assume that the Observation will only cover skills and behaviours, but the Question and Answer session will test the apprentice on various knowledge standards. Encourage your apprentice to review all the necessary criteria to be sure everything is up to snuff.
- Prepare the premises so that the apprentice has everything they need to succeed: Ensure all the necessary equipment and materials are at hand and that there won’t be any unnecessary or avoidable disruptions during the assessment.
- Speak with the Training Provider and/or On-Programme Assessor: You may be able to identify areas where the apprentice needs improvement.
Professional Discussion Supported by Portfolio of Evidence
What is a Professional Discussion?
A Professional Discussion is a structured discussion between the apprentice and the End-Point Assessor whereby the End-Point Assessor will ask the apprentice several pre-prepared, open-ended questions and the apprentice will provide responses. It is normally used in conjunction with an Observation or Project Assessment. It will allow the End-Point Assessor to probe deeper into the apprentice’s knowledge and to confirm any questions they had about their performance.
What is a Portfolio?
A Portfolio is a collection of evidence of work, progress and activity which the apprentice compiles over the course of their programme that may include testimonials, journal entries, projects and more. It will give the End-Point Assessor a detailed, tangible view of the apprentice’s abilities and accomplishments.
What Happens in the Assessment?
The Professional Discussion for the Teaching Assistant End-Point Assessment will last for approximately 90 minutes. It will be a structured discussion between the apprentice and the End-Point Assessor following the Practical Observation and will establish the apprentice’s understanding and application of the required knowledge, skills and behaviours. It will take place in a quiet room away from distractions.
The Portfolio of Evidence will serve as the basis for the Professional Discussion. The evidence within the Portfolio can be used by the apprentice to evidence and support their responses to the questions posed by the End-Point Assessor.
The purpose of the Professional Discussion is to:
- Make judgements about the apprentice’s quality of work;
- Explore aspects of the work, including how it was carried out, in more detail;
- Discuss how the apprentice would behave in specific situations, with the End-Point Assessor asking scenario based questions;
- Ensure there are no gaps within the evidence ;
- Provide a basis for the End-Point Assessor to make a decision about the final grading.
The Portfolio is completed during the apprentice’s on-programme learning and is meant to support the Professional Discussion. It will contain a minimum of 10 pieces of evidence and a maximum of 15 which may include:
- Feedback from a performance management review system;
- Evidence of pupil progression;
- Work produced by the apprentice (eg interventions);
- Evidence from Practical Observations and general observations obtained over time;
- Observations carried out by competent Teaching Assistants and HLTAs, Line Managers, Class Teachers and Mentors;
- Assessor reviews;
- Naturally occurring pieces of evidence (eg feedback from visitors/parents);
- Details of any training and courses attended;
- Notes from professional discussions.
Top Tips: How to Help Your Apprentice Prepare for their Professional Discussion
- Make sure your apprentice hands their Portfolio in on time: The Portfolio of Evidence should be given to the End-Point Assessor two weeks before Professional Discussion takes place. Be sure to remind your apprentice of the assigned date.
- Do a mock assessment: Lots of apprentices can get very intimidated by a Professional Discussion. A mock assessment will help prepare them for the format and the types of questions they will be asked. Contact your EPAO on how to conduct a suitable mock assessment.
- Support your apprentice by helping them compile their Portfolio: The evidence your apprentice submits needs to be of sufficient quality, and the final Portfolio should not contain any gaps, particularly with regards to Safeguarding and Health and Safety.
- Help your apprentice relax: It won’t do your apprentice any good to head into their assessment all stressed out. Provide them with some tips to get into the right headspace for their End-Point Assessment.
Grading for the Teaching Assistant End-Point Assessment
The final grade for the Teaching Assistant End-Point Assessment will be awarded based on the table below:
|Practical Observation with Q&As||Professional Discussion with Portfolio of Evidence||EPA Grade|
We hope this blog gave you a better picture of what’s involved in the Teaching Assistant End-Point Assessment. To keep up to date with all the latest End-Point Assessment news from TQUK, return to our blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
See you around The Hive!
We’ve got more exciting news!
We’re proud to announce that we now offer End-Point Assessment for the Hospitality Manager Apprenticeship!
Hospitality Managers work across a huge range of organisations including bars, restaurants, cafés, hotels and more. These managers tend to specialise in a particular area, such as food and beverage or conference and events management. However, their core knowledge, skills and behaviours remain the same. Hospitality Managers across all businesses must have a passion for exceeding customer expectations and a desire to fulfil their business’ vision and objectives. Individuals in the Hospitality Manager role must be highly motivated team leaders who have a talent for management along with specific industry skills.
Hospitality Manager apprentices will be trained in multiples areas of a hospitality business and will gain vital skills, knowledge and behaviors across the people, customer, leadership and business sides of their organisation. In this Apprenticeship, apprentices must also specialise in a particular area to demonstrate their technical skill and expertise. They can could become a:
- Food and Beverage Service Manager
- House Keeping Manager
- Front Office Manager
- Revenue Manager
- Conference and Events Manager
- Hospitality Outlet Manager
- Kitchen Manager
- Multi-functional Manager
After they complete their training, apprentices will take on the final pieces of assessment, also known as End-Point Assessment, so that they can pass their Apprenticeship. End-Point Assessment consists of multiple assessment components that ensure an apprentice is able to meet nationally set standards.
The End-Point Assessment for the Hospitality Manager apprenticeship is split into three parts:
- On-Demand Test
- Business Project
- Professional Discussion
The 90 minute On-Demand Test will include 35 scenario based multiple choice questions, with 4 response options per question. The Test will be on-screen and computer marked unless required otherwise. It will take place in a controlled environment, away from the day-to-day pressures of work. The questions will cover the knowledge and skills identified in the Apprenticeship Standard. Some questions will require knowledge recall whereas others will require the apprentice to consider a course of action to a problem based on a real-life workplace activity. The questions will require the apprentice to demonstrate reasoning and joined up thinking against key elements of the Standard.
The Test will include two parts: Part A which will be the core section of the Test, and part B which will be the specialist function of the Test. The core section will have 25 questions and the specialist section will have 10 questions, with all questions worth one mark each. The apprentice must pass both sections to pass their Test overall. Above a pass, marks from Part A and B will be combined to determine the overall Test grade.
The 9,000 word Business Project will focus on an opportunity, challenge or idea which the apprentice thinks will improve their business. This Project requires the apprentice to gather information and make recommendations to management. It is designed to give them an opportunity to demonstrate their wider understanding of the business and examine how the operations of their specialist function could be improved.
After they’ve passed Gateway, the apprentice must write a two page proposal of their Business Project. In this proposal, the apprentice should identify the problem, issue or challenge and their intended approach to researching solutions and making recommendations. They will then discuss this with their End-Point Assessor at a planning meeting.
The Project will contain the following:
- Introduction and background
- Outline of challenge or opportunity
- Aims and objectives
- Identification of measurable improvements and benefits to the wider organisation
- Evidence of consultation and engagement of stakeholders
- Analysis of costs and commercial context
- Legislative requirements explained and adhered to
- Evidence of effective research
- Justified recommendations for implementation
- Proposed timeframes for implementation
The Project should follow a basic structure and a template will be provided for the apprentice by the End-Point Assessment Organisation (that’s us!) The apprentice will be given sufficient time (a minimum of 40 hours if required) during their work time and within the 2 month EPA window to research and write the Project.
Once the Project has been finished, the apprentice must submit their report to the End-Point Assessor at least seven days before their Professional Discussion.
The Professional Discussion will be a 90 minute structured discussion between the apprentice and their End-Point Assessor. In the End-Point Assessment window before their Professional Discussion, the apprentice will gather constructive and objective feedback on their competence across the areas below from their superior, a peer and a direct report. These areas include:
- Specialist function with specific criteria
- Behaviours (for the core and specialist function)
If the apprentice does not have a superior, then a main stakeholder, such as a prime customer or supplier, can be used instead. The feedback itself will not be marked, but used by the apprentice to reflect on the knowledge, skills and behaviours they developed during their programme.
The End-Point Assessor conducting the Professional Discussion should normally be the same person who assessed the Business Project. This allows the End-Point Assessor to ask the apprentice a minimum of 30 questions in relation to:
- Coverage of the standard (a minimum of 5 questions)
- Reflection on the superior, peer and direct report feedback (a minimum of 5 questions)
The Professional Discussion will take place in a controlled environment, away from the apprentice’s normal place of work. If all parties cannot meet in the same place, then the Discussion may be conducted using technology such as video conferencing as long as fair assessment conditions are maintained.
The Professional Discussion will recognise areas that have already been covered in the Business Project so that the apprentice is not reassessed in an area which they’ve already demonstrated competence in. The number of questions asked in total will vary according to the breadth and depth of the answers given. However, as a minimum, there must be 30 questions asked to cover all the criteria requirements and give the apprentice the opportunity to demonstrate all of the requirements needed for a distinction.
We hope this helped all interested apprentices and employers gain more knowledge of the Hospitality Manager apprenticeship! To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook 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.
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.
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?
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.
You’ve now entered the lightning round! You must answer the following questions within 3 seconds or less!!
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?
How many streets have you lived on?
Too many, probably about 20.
Favourite member of Take That?
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?
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.
Thanks for your time!
See you around The Hive!
We have some exciting news today!
TQUK EPA has been approved to deliver end-point assessment (EPA) for six more apprenticeship standards!
We look forward to working with our training providers to assess the next generation of professionals in retail, hospitality and catering.
Find details on our new standards below:
Retailers can work in a variety of shops such as high street chains, supermarkets and department stores. They are dedicated to assisting customers and providing quality service that exceeds expectation. In this apprenticeship, apprentices will learn key skills such as how to serve customers in line with the brand’s standards, how to use a till and process payments and how to use a variety of sales techniques to complete sales.
The End-Point Assessment components for the Retailer Apprenticeship include:
- A 30 minute On-Demand Test
- A Practical Observation
- A Professional Discussion
Successful apprentices can progress into team leading, supervisory or first line management roles within retail, higher level training or apprenticeships.
A Retail Team Leader should deliver excellent customer service while providing critical support to managers. Retail Team Leaders can also guide and coordinate the work of the team when needed. In this apprenticeship, apprentices will learn key skills such as how to coach and support team members, how to coordinate the work of the team and how to hit financial targets by using resources effectively.
The End-Point Assessment components for the Retail Team Leader Apprenticeship include:
- A 60 minute On-Demand Test
- A Retail Business Project
- A Professional Discussion
Successful apprentices can progress onto other retail management positions.
A Retail Manager is responsible for delivering sales targets while providing a fantastic experience to customers. They must also lead their team to achieve their company’s vision and objectives. Apprentices will learn skills such as how to provide clear direction and leadership to their team, how to communicate marketing objectives to their members to drive results and how to ensure that members behave in line with the brand vision.
The End-Point Assessment components for the Retail Manager Apprenticeship include:
- A Two Hour Written Exam
- A Retail Business Project
- A Professional Discussion
Successful apprentices can progress on to a retail store manager, senior retail manager or area manager position.
A Chef de Partie is responsible for running a specific section of a professional kitchen which they’re assigned. They usually manage a small team of workers and must make sure that all of their dishes go out on time while keeping their work station organised. Apprentices will learn valuable skills such as how to prepare, cook and finish a range of advanced culinary dishes, how to implement the correct food safety practices and how to handle and store ingredients to maintain quality.
The End-Point Assessment components for the Chef De Partie Apprenticeship include:
- A Two Hour On-Demand Test
- A Practical Observation
- A Culinary Challenge Project and Observation
- A 90 minute Professional Discussion
Successful apprentices can progress onto a senior culinary chef role.
A Senior Production Chef is responsible for producing food in high volumes, both consistently and to a high quality. This role requires high energy, good organisational skills and excellent attention to detail. Apprentices will learn vital skills such as how to create standardized menu items, how to work to agreed practices to ensure a safe and hygienic kitchen and how to support team members to deliver high-quality products.
The End-Point Assessment Components for the Senior Chef Production Cooking apprenticeship include:
- A Two Hour On-Demand Test
- A Practical Observation
- A Business Project
- A 90 minute Professional Discussion
Apprentices who successfully pass can progress onto a higher level position within the kitchen, a higher level apprenticeship or further training.
A Hospitality Manager must be a highly motivated team leader who has excellent management skills and who thrives on providing outstanding customer service. Apprentices will learn how to manage finance to minimise costs within hospitality businesses, how to use operating models to help achieve the business vision and how to monitor customer satisfaction to ensure the product is delivered to the highest standards.
The End-Point Assessment Components for the Hospitality Manager Apprenticeship include:
- A 90 minute On-Demand Test
- A Business Project
- A 90 minute Professional Discussion
After their apprenticeship, apprentices can work across a huge variety of organisations including bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels and more.
If you’d like to see the full range of standards we provide EPAs for, visit our page here. Otherwise, to keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
See you around The Hive!
Levi is our new Exams Officer who joined TQUK back in mid-July. She previously worked in the marking department at AQA, but years before that she completed a hairdressing apprenticeship on the old frameworks system.
So we thought we’d sit down with her to talk more about her experience and how it compares to the new End-Point Assessment system.
Here are the results!
What apprenticeship did you take?
I completed an NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Hairdressing six years ago, in 2012.
What was your experience like during the apprenticeship?
It was really useful. I learned a lot of practical skills and knowledge vital for the hairdressing industry. For the majority of the 12-month apprenticeship, I’d work 5 days a week at a salon. Then, once every fortnight, I’d go to my college to study theory and do more training. I completed another hairdressing course prior to this, but the apprenticeship really honed all my hairdressing skills so by the end of it I was confident in colouring, cutting and styling hair, and also dealing with clients.
Did you feel like you were properly prepared for working in that sector?
Yes definitely! The invaluable thing about apprenticeships is that you’re employed and working while you train. This means that you’ve already learned all the skills you need for your job, so you know exactly what to do once you’re qualified. Also, if you’ve done well in your programme, your employer is likely to offer you a job at the end of it! So there’s a good chance you’ll secure a job after your training, which is different to pursuing a degree in higher education where you have to find a job after you’ve graduated.
Once you receive your qualification, you also have other options. My employer offered me a job at the end of my apprenticeship, but I chose to become a freelance hairdresser instead. I also knew people who became self-employed and rented a chair in a salon to use with their own clients.
What do you think of apprenticeships as a form of education?
I think apprenticeships suit people differently depending on their learning style. If you prefer to learn practically like I do, with only a little classroom studying involved, then apprenticeships are perfect. But if you want to go down a more academic route, then pursuing higher education is a better option.
I think apprenticeships have been stigmatised a lot in the past. They weren’t viewed as an equal form of education to programmes in higher education, such as A levels or Bachelor degrees. It’s quite unfair because thinking of higher education as a more ‘valid’ form of education doesn’t take into account that people learn differently.
However, I think the view around apprenticeships is changing. There’s now more people who view further education and higher education on an equal level. I think a large part of that is because there’s a much larger range of apprenticeships available now than there were before. There are still apprenticeships in sectors such as hairdressing and hospitality, but now you’ve got apprenticeships in business, science and engineering. That means that, if someone wants to go into business, they can choose between university or an apprenticeship depending on which they’d enjoy more, which is great!
How were you assessed on the Frameworks system?
I was assessed continually throughout my programme. I had different units that focused on different aspects of hairdressing, such as styling hair, basic cutting techniques and washing hair. I’d be trained in these units, then at the end I was assessed with a short online or paper test. I also needed to compile a portfolio for each unit I completed and submit it at the end of the apprenticeship.
What do you think of the new End-Point Assessment compared to the Frameworks style of continual assessment?
I think continual assessment has its strengths, as it helped my employer and training provider see that I had the correct hairdressing skills and knowledge from one month to the next. But I think the End-Point Assessment is a better way to assess an apprentice’s skills. First of all, employers effectively write the standard. Major employers in each industry are brought together to form groups called trailblazers. These trailblazers outline all the knowledge, skills and behaviours which are required and assessed within the EPA. This means that apprentices are learning the exact skills and knowledge needed to be fully competent in their jobs. It also means that there’s less disconnect between employers and training providers, as employers are more involved in writing the apprenticeship standard. They now know that apprentices are learning everything they’re meant to at their training providers.
I also think that having a major assessment at the end allows apprentices to purely focus on learning and training for the length of their programme. Instead of having to worry about constant assessments, they can now spend their time learning the necessary skills and knowledge for their role. I also think having the assessments at the end encourages apprentices to spend significant time preparing for their EPA, which will help them achieve a higher mark.
I’ve got a friend who recently completed her End-Point Assessment on the new standard. She said that she was nervous at first, but ultimately went into it confidently, and saw it as a chance to show her assessor everything she had learned. I think the EPA should give apprentices a sense of validation in this regard. If you prepare and work hard, just like my friend, you should come away thinking “oh, I’ve actually learned quite a bit!” and feel proud of themselves.
Thank you very much for your time!
We hope you enjoyed the interview! If you’re interested in learning more about the End-Point Assessments we provide, you can find them all here. To keep up to date with the latest news from TQUK EPA, return to our blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
See you around The Hive!
The Importance of HR
Every company has their employees, and HR professionals play an integral role in managing workers and upholding workplace culture. HR employees are responsible for a large range of tasks including recruiting new hires, maintaining benefits and payroll, mediating conflict and managing training and development. Effective HR management can create an inclusive and healthy working environment, and happy employees can lead to higher productivity and an increase in worker retention.
57% of businesses who invest in apprentices report that a high proportion later go into management positions within the same company. This means that apprentices are likely to remain working for the company they completed their programme with, saving them on training costs and valuable time recruiting an outside hire.
The HR Support Apprenticeship
Hiring an HR Support Apprentice will provide support to the HR department of any business, and will also teach the apprentice valuable skills relating to their HR role. HR Support Apprentices will help your business by:
- Handling day to day queries from employees and providing HR advice;
- Working on a range of HR processes such as recruitment, hiring, training, performance management and employee retention;
- Keeping employee records using HR systems;
- Providing relevant HR information to the business;
- Providing advice to managers on a large range of HR issues in regards to company policy and current law, and giving guidance to prevent employment tribunals or legal risk to the business.
An HR Support apprenticeship will typically last for 18 – 24 months. Apprentices will develop vital skills through:
- Delivering excellent customer service on a range of HR queries;
- Developing communication and interpersonal skills through dealing with customers and colleagues;
- Building strong work relationships and developing teamwork skills;
- Developing problem-solving skills through actively listening and understanding the root causes of any problems before providing HR solutions.
The End-Point Assessment
The End-Point Assessment for an HR Support apprenticeship includes two components which are equally-weighted. These components are:
- The Consultative Project
- The Professional Discussion
The apprentice must pass each component in order to pass the apprenticeship. Here’s a table with further information about the weighting and pass marks:
|Professional Discussion||50%||60-84 marks||
The Consultative Project
The Consultative Project is a 3000-word document that outlines how the apprentice has applied their knowledge and HR related skills on the job. The Project should describe a situation where the apprentice has successfully worked with a customer to deliver a specific piece(s) of HR advice or provide an HR solution(s) for them.
The content of this document should include:
- The project objectives;
- The scope of the work;
- A description of the situation/problem/business need;
- The methodology used;
- The information gathered;
- Any conclusions and recommendations;
- Details of the implementation plan.
Examples of the Project might be:
- Providing guidance to a manager or a team on a range of HR matters, including recruitment, retirement and more;
- Taking a defined role in a larger project run by more senior members of the HR team;
- Carrying out analysis of HR information and producing recommendations for action.
The Professional Discussion
The Professional Discussion is conducted after the TQUK End-Point Assessor has reviewed and marked the Consultative Project. It focuses on testing the skills and behaviours outlined in the Standard, along with any knowledge and skills components that weren’t covered in the Consultative Project.
To ensure consistency, TQUK EPA will provide a bank of standard questions that the TQUK End-Point Assessor will use in the Professional Discussion. There will be 13-16 questions asked during the Discussion, each of which will focus on a single component of the knowledge, skills or behaviours listed in Appendix 1 of the End-Point Assessment plan. The Professional Discussion should last between 60 – 75 minutes.
After the Apprenticeship
Once the apprentice has completed their apprenticeship, they can choose to develop into more advanced roles such as:
- HR Consultant/Partner;
- HR Manager;
- Employee Relations Manager;
- Training and Development Manager.
We hope this blog gave you some more insight into the HR Support Apprenticeship! TQUK EPA is dedicated to delivering quality assessments at a competitive price to ensure that employers receive confident, skilled workers at the end of their apprenticeship. When you work with TQUK EPA, everyone wins!
See you around the Hive!
You’ve taken a multiple choice test before, right?
Of course, you have!
They’re everywhere, from the multiple choice question tests we take in schools to the latest addictive Buzzfeed questionnaire.
As an End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) assessing apprentices, TQUK is responsible for creating a variety of assessment materials, including the test papers that apprentices will encounter. Multiple choice questions will make up, or will included in, many of these test papers.
Now, you’d think that creating an multiple choice questions test would be simple. After all, they’re everywhere; how hard can it be?
Well, as it turns out, it’s a complicated business.
It may be easy to create a Buzzfeed questionnaire — it’s a whole other order to create a quality multiple choice questions test for an apprentice’s end-point assessment (EPA).
Here are just a few factors that the EPA Team takes into account when creating one of our great test papers.
The Role of Multiple Choice Question Writers and Subject Experts
An intrepid EPAO beginning their journey towards creating an amazing multiple choice question test must gather some friends along the way.
After all, you can’t just pick up a pen and decide, willy-nilly, to write the 33rd question on an multiple choice question test for a Commis Chef EPA. Hold your horses!
In order to write appropriate questions for an assessment activity, you need expert help. You need professionals on your side who know what skills an apprentice should know, and when they need to know them, during their course of learning.
TQUK consistently commissions questions from our huge bank of question writers — subject experts, all, from healthcare and hospitality to management and retail — to ensure we are creating rich, high quality questions that populate our real and mock multiple choice question tests.
Certainly, language is a key consideration when composing a test question. Clear phrasing and appropriate difficulty are paramount.
Seems straightforward, right?
Appropriate language levels are the subject of a tremendous amount of debate. What kind of language is appropriate for particular apprenticeships?
Say you’re in a level 2 apprenticeship in customer service. Most likely, you and most of your peers will between ages 16-19.
Any test you or they take must be reasonably written to the reading level of someone that age and, by extension, the level of that apprenticeship. You wouldn’t expect to find command verbs like “collate” and “tabulate” in those test questions — such complex words would be more appropriate for a higher level apprenticeship.
The questions we have to ask are, Which words and phrases belong at each level? What kind of sentence structure is too complex? Which words are appropriate for a level 4 but inappropriate for a level 3?
The natural place to start, we thought, was the Ofqual guidance on qualification and component levels. It is helpful at first, but perhaps can’t quite provide the level of detail required. After all, detailing alignment of language within new apprenticeships was not the aim of this document from Ofqual.
But there are models that could provide guidance.
For instance, Bloom’s Taxonomy offers a template on what type of questions and language can be used to assess low and high level thinking skills. These frameworks can be applied to lower and higher level apprenticeships.
In Bloom’s Taxonomy, lower level thinking skills can include knowledge recall, the demonstration of the basic understanding of facts and the application of those facts to particular situations. (ie “What are the different types of chicken meat?”, “Compare the taste profiles of white and dark meat”, or “Could eating undercooked chicken be a risk for contracting salmonella?”)
Higher level thinking skills could include knowledge dissection, synthesising compiled information in a different manner and the ability to evaluate and defend positions and judgments. (“List four ways free range chicken imparts more health benefits. Provide references.” “Take a sweet chicken recipe and convert it to a savoury chicken recipe. Explain how your recipe substitutions will work towards your goal.” “Would dark meat be better paired with red or white wine? Why?”)
As a general rule of thumb, TQUK uses the following criteria in creating level-appropriate test questions:
- Level 1 questions should be one simple sentence with no conjunctions;
- Level 2 and 3 questions should include only 12 words per sentence, and one conjunction per question. Language should be kept as simple as possible;
- Level 4 and 5 questions can be made up of several sentences but should not extend past a reading time of 20 seconds.
This is only one model, however. TQUK relishes the chance to work with our training providers to produce the best possible EPA questions.
The “stem” is the questions or problem presented at the beginning of the multiple choice question.
EPAOs and their question writers have the benefit of consulting the apprenticeship standards. These lay out all the knowledge, skills and abilities that apprentices need to learn over the course of the apprenticeship.
Stems should be
- Self-contained and meaningful on their own;
- Free of irrelevant material.
A great stem must focus on relevant subject material, should prompt the apprentice to complex thought processes and use scenarios that apprentices could likely encounter.
This is where the experience of our question writers comes in. They will be able to draw on their industry knowledge to create plausible and challenging “what if” scenarios.
How difficult should a question be?
Creating the ideal test question requires a certain amount of empathy. You need to make sure the question is appropriately difficult for that apprenticeship while keeping in mind what the apprentice should know at that stage.
For instance, take the following stem question: What are the ingredients used in a white sauce?
The correct answer is: flour, butter and milk.
Distractors are the main source of difficulty with a multiple choice question.
When the other distractors are a) black pudding, milk and mint b) red wine, shallots and calvados or c) gravy granules, water and black food colouring, the correct answer should not be overly difficult to guess. This would be a bad test question.
However, when the distractors are a) flour, olive oil and milk b) rice flour, butter and cream c) flour, butter and cream, the correct answer would be more difficult to choose. This would be a better test question.
Choosing the best possible distractors is always a big consideration when writing test questions. All effective distractors should be:
- Stated clearly and concisely;
- Mutually exclusive;
- Homogenous in content;
- Free from clues about which response is correct;
- Presented in a logical order.
It’s always fascinating how seemingly simple things can demand so much attention!
We’ll continue to do the little things well to ensure apprentices get the best possible assessment service in England today.
See you around The Hive!