As an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO), we’ve aimed to differentiate ourselves by the service we provide. And if you ask our clients, we’ve achieved this via our apprentice-first approach and the ease and flexibility of our remote assessment service.
Both of these features have come to the fore during the challenging times of the last twelve months.
“A common thing I’ve picked up,” says Stewart Findlay, our lead End Point Assessor, “is that when I ask the apprentice what they know about the assessments, very few can actually tell me what they’re going to be doing or what’s expected of them.”
End Point Assessment has been around for a few years now. Yet it seems there’s still not as much awareness of the process as there perhaps could be. Stewart’s awareness of this factored into the introduction of the Assessor Checklist Call.
“When we started the EPA process we didn’t have this call in place”, Stewart explains. “It’s something that I had used in a different format before, so I suggested bringing it in as a way of putting the apprentice at the center of our work.”
The Assessor Checklist Call is the first point of contact between the assessor and apprentice.
“It sounds more formal than it actually is. The Assessor Checklist Call is a quick “get to know you” session,” Stewart explains. “It helps the apprentice to feel at ease. They get to know what I look like, hear the sound of my voice. I get to know them a little and ask a few questions about their role. It’s basically an icebreaker.”
“I take the apprentice through the journey they’re going on and outline the assessment methods for the particular standard they’ve been studying.”
Once the Assessor Checklist Call is complete, our assessor does not have any further contact with the apprentice until End Point Assessment begins. As such, it’s easy to see how important it is for learners to have that opportunity to engage with the assessor ahead of time.
“We’ve had feedback from apprentices that went through the process, and they found the checklist call very helpful in allaying any fears that they had regarding the assessment”, Stewart says.
“It gives a personal touch as well, which is something we’re all about.”
Making Remote Assessment Work
The fact that we’ve been able to deliver so many End Point Assessments over the last 12 months is due to our robust remote assessment setup.
When we first aimed to gain ESFA approval as an End Point Assessment Organisation, we invested development time into ensuring that we could deliver remote assessment from the start.
“We’ve actually been very lucky because with the main standards we deliver, Business Administrator and Team Leader/Supervisor, are particularly suited to remote working”, says Stewart.
“In actual fact, it’s probably made the End Point Assessment process easier. For one thing there’s no travel involved, so that’s out of the equation. And for some reason, the learners seem more at ease just talking to a camera rather than talking face to face. It’s probably cut out a lot of the nervousness that you would normally have when you meet a stranger.”
Quality Assured End Point Assessment
We think it’s a good thing that we offer a personable service with our End Point Assessments. But it’s of greater importance to apprentices and training providers that our assessments are accurate.
“When it comes to End Point Assessment, it’s really important to make sure that the assessor is doing the best job possible, that all of his assessment decisions are fair and robust”, says Larisa Puk, our Level 4 qualified Internal Quality Assurance Officer.
As an EPAO, we follow a sampling plan for our quality assurance.
“The sampling plan really depends on how many assessments we have done so far, and how far down the line we are”, Larisa explains. “If it’s a new EPA standard that we’ve started then I will sample pretty much every single one that goes through. Once we’ve gone through a good number of assessments and there are no action points, no concerns, no inconsistencies, then it becomes a bit more structured. Then I will just QA one assessment out of any given number.”
“It’s really important that the assessor doesn’t know my sequence. He really should be doing the best job possible regardless of the IQA, because every single one has to be as accurate and as robust as possible.”
To ensure this robustness, Larisa also needs to have a decent working knowledge of the apprenticeship standards.
“This is part of the preparation process. For QA it’s really important to be familiar with the knowledge, skills, and behaviors of the standard, and to know what the End Point Assessment consists of, what the expectations are, what the grading criteria are.”
“It’s important to give the rationale and justifications as to why specific grades were awarded.”
Ultimately, Larisa’s role is to ensure that the apprentice receives the best opportunity to show their abilities.
“I just make sure that the assessor follows all the answers and gives a fair evaluation.”
The last year has demonstrated the flexibility and robustness of apprenticeships. We’re proud that we deliver an End Point Assessment service to match. Click here to view our standards and learn more about our EPAO service.