Grading Changes with the Apprenticeship Reform
The apprenticeship reform has brought about a whole new change to the grading system which is important for all Assessors to clearly understand. Traditionally, grading has always gone hand in hand with assessment, in order to check the apprentice has fully understood the subject area. The apprenticeship reform has meant that rather than apprentices simply being judged as ‘competent’ or not, there are now different levels of competency – merit and distinction (as well as the standard Pass and Fail).
Benefits of Grading
The higher levels of competency (i.e. merit and distinction) indicate that the apprentice can work independently. This also shows that the apprentice has shown potential to go further within the business. The main advantage of grading is that it helps to motivate apprentices to succeed and attain that higher grade.
As well as helping the apprentice, grading also encourages the employer to be more invested in how the apprentice is progressing. For example; if they can see the apprentice is close to achieving a distinction but is still a little way off, they may offer more support and training to help the apprentice get to the next grade.
Disadvantages of Grading
This new grading system was thoroughly tested and trialled before being implemented, so any major issues were ironed out in the early stages. However, as it is still a fairly new concept it is important that both the Assessor and the apprentice have a clear understanding of what is required for each grade.
If grading is mentioned too early on, the apprentice may feel overwhelmed and therefore become demotivated. It is all about getting that balance right from the start. The grading criteria may not be particularly clear from the offset so it is always best to check the assessment plan for clarification on this.
How Grading Fits Into The Training Plan
To ensure grading is introduced both slowly for the apprentice, and at the right time, this needs to be built into the on-programme part of the apprenticeship. As an Assessor, you almost need to work backwards from the End-Point Assessment for this part.
By taking the time to look at the assessment methods that will be used to assess the apprentice within their EPA, you can then make sure these methods are included within the on-programme element. Giving your apprentice the opportunity to gain experience and the tools necessary to help them become competent in the assessment part. This will put them in the best possible position when it comes to the EPA.
A couple of assessment methods that are useful to include within the training plan regardless are self-assessment and a professional discussion. Self-assessment allows you to gauge how the apprentice feels that they are getting on. It is also a good exercise to ask them how they think they can improve. The professional discussion is one of the most common assessment methods, as it allows the apprentice to explain not only what they have learned, but how they have applied their knowledge too.
Resits & Retakes
One of the other changes within the apprenticeship reform is the introduction of resits and retakes. More detailed information on both of these can be found in the individual assessment plan. But, we will cover the basics here for you. The first thing to be aware of is that the learner must achieve at least a Pass on all components in order to gain the apprenticeship. If they achieve a Pass on one element, and a Distinction on the other two elements, their overall grade will default to the lowest mark; so a Pass in this instance.
A resit is where the apprentice just completes one element of their assessment again. A retake is slightly different, as this is where the End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) deem the learner to have performed too badly (for example they have resat one element 2 or 3 times). This means that they believe the learner needs to complete the entire EPA again.
Here to Help
So there you have it. A detailed explanation of the grading changes that have happened as a result of the new apprenticeship reform. We hope this has helped to improve your understanding of the changes, but as always if you have any questions please feel free to give us a call on 01205 805 155.
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.