With the ongoing pandemic that is COVID-19, End Point Assessment Organisations must turn to alternative ways to ensure they can proceed with most, if not all, their end point assessments during this stressful time.

Mark Dawe, CEO of the AELP says The Department for Education now has two options to ensure the end point assessment system remains safe.

Option 1:

Agree immediately several flexibilities and adjustments whilst still maintaining the integrity of the overarching EPA or,

Option 2:

Guarantee a set level of funding for EPAOs at the current rate, regardless of what level of performance and delivery takes place.

Most, if not all of those within the apprenticeship sector, are likely to favour option 1 as it allows apprentices to still achieve and progress within a timely manner. It also allows the safeguarding of jobs at no additional cost, a vital factor during these uncertain times where so many people are being made redundant due to businesses losing money.

Option one follows a similar approach to assessing those who were due to take GCSEs and A Levels this summer, whereby the Secretary of State has said teacher assessments and professional judgement will be the primary assessment method to determine the success of a student in a timely manner. This method is a way of avoiding prolonged study periods and pushed back exams, allowing the student to move forward with their education.

What does this mean for end point assessments?

For some methods of end point assessment, the planned assessments still may be able to go ahead, with slight changes in how the assessment is delivered. For those who have planned panel interviews and professional discussions, these can be done in a virtual Smart Room rather than face to face.

This would benefit both the EPAO and the apprentice who would be able to move forward as planned, whilst continuing to work remotely due to the current measures of social distancing, put in place to tackle COVID-19.

Unfortunately, not all apprentices can be assessed in this way, particularly those who are on a more practical apprenticeship, for these students’ option one may be used.

Control methods

One thing EPAOs must consider if they are choosing to complete some, if not all, of the end point assessment virtually is that levels of control must be taken to ensure there is no foul play.

The assessment must be recorded, after consent is given from all individuals to do so, this will form the evidence that the assessment has taken place and can be used towards the apprentice final grade. The assessment must not be simulated in anyway and control methods must be in place to ensure the process can be authenticated.

The employer’s role

During the assessments, the employer will be required to allow the apprentice time to do their end point assessment, as well as a suitable place to do so. Where these are not possible, alternative methods may be used, including competency-based interviews and a confirmation interview with a Line Manager, or designated employer substitute to confirm the student’s answers and examples are authentic.

This is where Smart Rooms step in, with the ability to record, share video, use microphones and share screens. Recordings can be saved to use as evidence of the end point assessment and participants can use their video to show they are alone in the room and there is no one else answering questions on their behalf.

For those who cannot participate in virtual assessing, the EPAO would need to communicate with the Institute of Apprenticeships for further guidance.

What Next?

Whilst these alternative options are currently being reviewed by the DfE, the ability to remotely teach and assess in Smart Rooms is looking like one of the only ways forward for the education sector under the current circumstances.

The apprenticeship sector must stay strong during these times of self-isolation as no one can predict how long this will go on for. Not just for businesses who rely on apprenticeship pass rates for funding, but also learners who deserve to pass their apprenticeships on time as they have worked hard to do so throughout their learning period.

If you want to learn more about Smart Rooms, join our daily webinars, Smart Teaching, Learning and Assessing here.

Smart Apprentices also provides software specifically designed for end point assessment organisations to help manage their EPAs, Smart EPA comes with built in Smart Rooms, automatic reporting tools and more. Used by some of the largest EPAOs in the country, AAT, NCFE, IMI and more, there has never been a better time to find out more.

Call 0845 460 4440 or email Kieran.Maddison@smartapprentices.com for more information.