The Employer’s Guide to Choosing an EPAO
Choosing an End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) can be a really confusing decision for any size business. Just before we go into more detail, let’s just have a recap on what an EPAO actually is. They play an important role at the end of an apprenticeship, as they are essentially responsible for the final assessment. The EPAO works with the training provider to ensure both the apprentice and the employer fully understand the assessment criteria for the End-Point Assessment. As the employer, you have the final say on which EPAO you would like to work with for your apprentice’s EPA. The training provider will also be able to give guidance on this matter, should you require it.
Responsibilities of the EPAO
It is likely that there are lots of EPAOs that offer End-Point Assessment for the apprenticeship that your apprentice is undertaking. They all have different policies and procedures, but their core responsibilities remain the same:
- They must be on the government register of EPAOs
- Designing & developing assessment materials & guidance documents
- Recruiting qualified Independent End-Point Assessors
- Giving guidance on the expectations of the apprentice at the EPA
- Validating whether the apprentice is Gateway-ready
- The delivery of the EPA against the assessment plan for each specific apprenticeship
- Grading of the apprentice’s assessments, confirming their achievement
- Claiming the apprentice’s certificate from the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) upon completion
Every EPAO designs their EPA around the brief that is set out in the assessment plan. This ensures consistency across the apprenticeship, and also allows for easy standardisation across the board.
Choosing An EPAO
Of course before the introduction of the apprenticeship reform, End-Point Assessments didn’t even exist, therefore neither did EPAOs! The one main thing you have to be aware of when choosing an EPAO is that they are not allowed to have any affiliation with the apprentice they are assessing. They, and their staff, should be completely independent. Here are some other things you may want to consider:
Are they registered?
This should be the first thing you check. There are certain criteria and eligibility requirements for organisations wanting to be listed on the register of EPAOs. Proof of financial stability must be obtained; along with assessment capacity and a model explaining how these are going to be delivered.
Relevancy of the EPAO
As well as being able to assess the relevant apperenticeship, an EPAO must also have experience within the same sector that your business operates in. This means that the assessors should also be experts in their field, with high levels of occupational competency.
Are they ready?
The register of EPAO opens up from time to time. During this time, EPAOs will get the chance to get added to the list. It is worth bearing in mind that even if an EPAO is registered, they may not be ready to assess up to the standard that you require. The only way you can really find this out is to have a chat with them. If you can get copies of their mock tests or interview questions these should help you to make an informed decision.
How to know if they are right for you
The choice is entirely yours at the end of the day. So, as long as you take the time to research the EPAO and make sure they meet the essential criteria, then you can’t go far wrong. Your EPAO should also have a good assessment standardisation process in place so that criteria can be evenly assessed across an apprentice. This also ensures they deliver fair and high-quality EPAs.
So there you have it, your very own guide to help you choose the right EPAO to deliver the apprenticeship to your apprentices. If you would like any more information or any clarity on the points we have raised, please give the team at Brooks & Kirk a call on 01205 805155.
Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.