Writing exclusively for Tes, the chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) Sir Gerry Berragan says that end-point assessment (EPA) represents a big change that can be “unsettling” for providers.
Sir Gerry adds that people have expressed to him their concerns, including that there will not be enough assessment organisations in place to deliver assessments, that those organisations that are in place won’t be able to find enough assessors who have the required occupational expertise and independence or that EPA won’t be consistent between different end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs).
“I understand these concerns, but I think they are sometimes overplayed by certain parts of the sector with a vested interest, particularly those resisting the reforms. And all of these concerns will recede in importance as the reform programme becomes more mature," he adds.
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) opened a consultation on end-point assessments in February that closes in just under a month's time.
‘Attacks’ not constructive
Mark Dawe, the chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), hit back at Sir Gerry’s remarks.
“These attacks aren’t constructive and don’t help anyone,” Mr Dawe said. “Sir Gerry doesn’t actually offer a solution to the concerns other than to say that they will eventually go away but what about the apprentices who are on programme now? There are 75 standards with no recognised end-point assessment organisation in place, with some of these standards dating back to 2014.
“AELP goes regularly on the record to say that we are unequivocal supporters of the levy reforms and we unashamedly have a 'vested interest' in articulating solutions in helping to make them succeed. In this case, make Ofqual the single body responsible for external quality assurance to support EPA with employer organisation input and listen to Ofsted as to what is a genuine quality measure and what is not.”
‘We need to work together’
Teresa Frith, senior policy manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC), said those in the sector need to come together to resolve issues around EPA.
Ms Frith added: “It is, of course, concerning that the process of identifying an EPA organisation, and the development of the actual EPA support and delivery materials, has fallen behind the anticipated timelines in some standards. We are, I think, all aware of the slower than anticipated progress in sign-off of EPAOs, alongside other delays within the new system, which are equally frustrating for the learners, employers and colleges that have taken the “leap of faith” over to standards.
“Early adopters of new activity would generally expect that things would not run smoothly. Now the key thing to focus on is ensuring learners do not suffer unduly due to these issues. Everything in apprenticeships has changed and transition issues are bound to be a part of the process – we don’t need to complain, we need to work together to resolve.”
You can read Sir Gerry’s full article here.