This is our second instalment in the series where we look into how End Point Assessment rules and regulations have changed slightly because of the pandemic. The main question to address is whether or not EPAs can go ahead during this lockdown. The answer to this is yes. If EPAs cannot be conducted remotely, they can continue within assessment venues and workplaces where necessary. It is up to the discretion of the apprenticeship provider and the End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). Let’s explore some of the other frequently asked questions in relation to EPA and Coronavirus.
What if training is delayed & the apprentice leaves employment?
An apprentice on a fixed-term contract would ordinarily have had enough time to complete both their training and the EPA. However, if training is delayed due to COVID this can cause a bit of an issue. An apprentice has to be employed when they are taking their EPA, so if a break in learning has had to occur, they should speak to their employer and training provider. They should all work together to reschedule training, which may involve reviewing apprenticeship agreements.
What happens if an apprentice is too poorly to take their EPA?
If an apprentice is either unwell or in a period of self-isolation, they should contact their training provider as soon as possible if they are unable to attend their EPA. This can be easily rescheduled for a later date.
What if an apprentice is on furlough?
As long as all of the conditions for apprentices on furlough are being met, apprentices can still sit their EPA. If it is essential for workers to attend their workplace, EPAs can be delivered within the workplace. The workplace does need to meet the ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines though, ensuring the workplace is a safe environment to be in.
Gateway delays – can EPA timeframes be extended?
Usually once an apprentice has entered the gateway, they then progress to the EPA. However, due to these strange circumstances that we find ourselves in, apprentices who are deemed to be ready for assessment but can’t undergo assessment straight away can take a break. The EPA will need to be rescheduled if the assessment can’t take place due to Assessor illness or COVID-related measures.
You are probably already aware that the assessment plan sets out the specific EPA timeframe for each apprenticeship. If there needs to be an extension to this, EPAOs are responsible for agreeing this. They should work closely with EQA providers to ensure the quality of the EPA is still maintained. If the gateway is being delayed, the training provider should report this as a ‘break of learning’ within the ILR.
What if the EPA plan states the assessment must be face-to-face?
This is one of the main flexibilities that has been introduced with EPAs during COVID-19. If an assessment method requires face-to-face engagement, it can be carried out remotely as long as the following conditions are met:
- The EQA provider makes clear arrangements in advance.
- The identity of the apprentice is verified (someone else is not doing the assessment on their behalf).
- An invigilator or highly trained Assessor is also present to supervise the remote test. They must be independent and not involved with the training, preparation or line management of the apprentice.
- The appropriate technology and systems are in place.
- The impact of the assessment being carried out remotely must be taken into account to ensure a fair assessment of occupational competence.
In the event that assessment can’t be carried out remotely or in person, it is acceptable to pause and reschedule the EPA. If a time limit is specified from gateway to EPA, an extension of 12 weeks is allowed.
What if an apprentice’s line manager has been furloughed?
Usually the gateway process involves an agreement between the employer, Assessor, training provider and the EPAO. If the person responsible for signing the apprentice off as ready to take their EPA has been furloughed, this passes to the training providers. They are able to make the gateway decision themselves, based on the information they have. This is only a temporary arrangement though, and the training provider must be able to provide evidence to the EPAO that the gateway requirements have been met. If this is not possible, the EPA can be rescheduled.
We hope this blog has helped to answer some of the questions you may have with regards to EPA and the current situation we are living in. If you have any more specific questions, or would like any further information on the points we have raised please call us on 01205 805 155.