EPA 2024 – Shaping the Future of Independent End-Point Assessment

Whether or not you are attending EPA Conference 2024, here's what you will want to know ahead of a pivotal year for end-point assessment and skills...

If you are involved in EPA delivery, you don’t need us to tell you that the upcoming months will be pivotal for the future of apprenticeships and assessment here in the UK – regardless of the outcome of the General Election in July.

Between an impending review of the entire model of independent apprentice assessment, and the litany of tweaks and changes to EPA that you have dealt with ‘at the front line’, it’s little wonder that EPAOs and the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB), are jointly putting EPA delivery at the top of the agenda at this year’s EPA Conference 2024 (July 1st, Warwick Conferences).

Whether or not you are attending this year, here are 3 things we are looking forward to discussing that will undoubtedly shape the future of independent end-point assessment.


1) The General Election – and changes to the skills landscape

No matter which way you cut it, apprenticeship training is taking a more prominent place in this year’s election campaign than any in recent memory.

That isn’t just according to the most recent Public First poll on the electorate’s education priorities.

If you are involved in EPA delivery, you will have undoubtedly witnessed it first hand: be it changes to your funding streams , the potential to deliver ‘degree-apprenticeships’ as part of your offer, or support (or lack thereof) around particular issues facing your sector (such as Healthcare or Education).

We have reflected at length on the promises made by the main contenders to transform apprenticeship delivery, but one that raises an eyebrow is the potential to bypass the EPAO’s vital role in apprenticeship assessment, putting that responsibility solely with training providers.

While only a trial, it reveals the lengths to which Government and IfATE will consider going to resolve critical issues relating to apprenticeship delivery – low apprenticeship completion, a lack of available assessors, and a process with too much so-called ‘red tape’.

Change is the new norm for EPAOs, so whether the next government is that of the incumbent or the challenger, we can expect more trials and tweaks to resolve these.

Fortunately, it’s why we welcome the work of FAB to clarify what will support EPAOs will benefit from most, regardless of who holds the keys to No. 10 soon.


2) FAB’s role in protecting our industry’s interests

Always working in the interests of EPAOs, FAB has outlined its “Five Key Requests of the Next Government”, which are our industry’s collective way of guiding and informing the changes we expect within the end-point assessment model.


These five requests consist of:

  1. A long-term, future-ready skills plan as a bedrock of government reform
  2. Pausing and reviewing the reform and defunding of Level 3 Provision in England
  3. Protecting apprenticeship opportunities in any reforms to the Levy
  4. Retaining EPA as a model of independent end-point assessment
  5. Reviewing the current regulatory burden on EPAOs and AOs

Relieving the regulatory burden, to single out just one of these issues, is a great example of what FAB is working to achieve.

Where the changes to EPA mentioned above would bypass EPAOs in assessment, IfATE’s proposed changes to resits and retakes would put the responsibility of arranging them on employers, and bypass training providers.

This example changes an established way of working that already puts different aspects of EPA delivery in the hands of the most competent bodies (in this case, the training providers).

Ultimately, while reform is needed, the interference creates more complication, and what FAB (and the industry it represents) is calling for is for the decisions that affect EPA the most to be made by those who know it best – EPAOs and their partners in EPA.


3) Removing a key barrier to apprenticeship delivery…

Of course, FAB’s agenda isn’t exhaustive. When over 100 EPAOs and their delegates come together at an event like EPA Conference, it’s a wellspring of ideas that shape the way we drive apprenticeship delivery – and influence public policy.

One of the issues we would like to see tackled is delivering a more flexible approach to functional skills in English and Maths.

While it’s important to ensure competence in language and arithmetic to help apprentices work effectively, we believe overly stringent standards – such as a GCSE or A-Level equivalent in Maths in a standard such as Hairdressing - can prevent otherwise excellent apprentices from embarking on a fulfilling career path.

In a time where the priority is opening apprenticeships to a wider pool of people (and plugging sector employment gaps), we need to look at removing unnecessary barriers – and we urge a review of functional skills in standards where they, ultimately, are too restrictive.


Why not come and talk to us at EPA Conference 2024?

As membership of bodies such as FAB demonstrates, we have more power to take control of the future of EPA as a collective than as individuals.

However, if there is one thing we ultimately shape within our own EPAOs, it’s the quality of apprenticeships that we deliver in our own organisations.

If you use epaPRO, you will know that improving apprenticeship delivery can be as simple as using a platform that removes the administrative barriers you face everyday – from juggling multiple systems for EPA and examination, to automating your most time-consuming manual processes like appeals management or registering apprentices.

Together with risr/, who have enabled EPAOs to deliver end-to-end EPA, including examination, within epaPRO, we are delighted to be sponsoring such a pivotal edition of EPA conference, and we can’t wait to welcome you to our stand to talk about the ways we can help you navigate the future of EPA delivery – and ensure the best possible outcomes for your apprentices.

There’s still time to get tickets if you haven’t already, and if you want to learn more about the ways we are supporting FAB members and many of the UK’s top EPAOs streamline apprenticeship delivery, why not take the time to find out more about our EPA management platform, epaPRO?


We can’t wait for…:


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