The conditions for entry on the official register of end point assessment organisations (EPAOs) changed in 2019, with important implications for how EPAOs are funded. The main change to be aware of is that the UK government has ceased funding apprenticeship standards that do not have an approved, registered EPAO in place. To be eligible for funding, the EPAO must give an ‘in principle’ guarantee to deliver the apprenticeship end point assessment according to the relevant apprenticeship standards.
This was introduced to ensure that apprentices have clarity over how they are to be assessed and graded, before enrolling on their apprenticeship programme. In practice, this has led training providers to engage with EPAOs at an earlier stage of the EPA process than before the rules changed.
Application Conditions For The EPAO Register – What Has Changed?
To receive public funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), EPAOs have to meet a number of conditions. Full details can be found here, but the main conditions are given in summary below:
1) The organisational details you provided when you were originally approved to conduct end point assessments must be reconfirmed annually. Attention is given to changes in an organisation’s financial status, organisational structure, and resources –anything that could affect the EPAO’s competence to carry out fair and impartial EPAs. The ESFA must also be notified of any accusations of misconduct in assessments and any potential conflicts of interest that could compromise the EPAO’s independence.
2) The EPAO must demonstrate readiness to conduct EPA’s by meeting three criteria: first, that the relevant administrative and management systems are in place – including quality assurance protocols – within 9-12 months of registration; secondly, that all EPA support materials (including EPA software, such as EPA Pro) is available to support the registered apprenticeship standards; and thirdly, that compliance with newly introduced standards can be implemented within six months of application.
4) An EPAO can only promote their EPA service to employers when they are approved on the register, and then only for the apprenticeship standards they are registered to assess. Organisations must be transparent about their readiness and capabilities to deliver a full EPA service.
5) Prices charged for end point assessments must not exceed 20% of the funding available for that apprenticeship standard. Payments to EPAOs from employers come through the medium of the training provider, and not directly – in order to avoid conflict of interest and malpractice. Apprentices must not be charged for any part of the EPA process.
6) Before completing an EPA, the EPAO must ensure that each apprentice successfully passes their gateway review. (This review is conducted by the employer with support from their training provider – but is often facilitated with EPA software provided by the EPAO).
What This Means For EPAOs
As apprenticeship standards can now no longer be ESFA-funded without an EPAO in place or an agreement in principle, end point assessment organisations now play a more significant role in EPA delivery. In particular, there are greater opportunities for EPAOs to market their services to employers and training providers and to demonstrate their efficiency in facilitating end point assessments, in order to secure apprenticeship funding at an earlier stage. To keep end point assessment costs to a minimum, it is now vital that EPAOs have effective tools and systems in place.
EPA Pro – our comprehensive end point assessment software solution, plays an important role in streamlining the apprenticeship assessment process, with tools that allow efficient evidence gathering, testing, and gateway reviews. To find out more or to request a quote, please get in touch with one of our advisers today.
Image Source: Gov.UK