FAB End-Point Assessment Organisations Research – Rationale, Readiness and Risks


FAB End-Point Assessment Organisations Research – Rationale, Readiness and Risks

Friday, 09 March 2018

Over the summer and autumn of 2017, FAB commissioned an in-depth piece of research into the progress being made by a wide range of end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs), a vital aspect of the new apprenticeship delivery in England.

Our consultant, Sallyann Baldry, conducted surveys with 44 EPAOs, 4 aspiring EPAOs and 5 stakeholder organisations to gain a view of the current opportunities and challenges facing EPAOs, and their services for apprentices, training providers, and employers.

This report is a snapshot of the overall views of respondents at a fixed point in time, when there were about 75 EPAOs on the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) register of EPAOs – there are now 125 on the register as at 27 February 2018.

Many of the issues identified in the report remain key drivers in delivering fit-for-purpose assessments, which allow apprentices to demonstrate their skills and abilities in a fair and robust apprenticeship system.

Main conclusions of the study: 

  • There is a significant commitment amongst EPAOs to contribute to the apprenticeship system in a positive way that supports the aim of having an effective and highly regarded apprenticeship offer available for learners in a wide range of industry sectors. 

  • There are many different drivers for becoming an EPAO and some of these are more commonly associated with specific types of organisations; for example, training providers more commonly saw it as a natural extension of their existing business. 

  • The process for joining the register of EPAOs does not seem to be problematic (once the intricacies of the bravo portal are mastered!) or a barrier to organisations who wish to offer end-point assessments. ESFA support during this process has generally been well received. 

  • There is a high volume of activity underway to prepare for all aspects of end-point assessment (EPA) and EPAOs are working through the end-to-end process to ensure they can offer EPAs when required. There are, however, many challenges they face, not least of which is the difficulty in being able to forecast levels and patterns of demand. 

  • Further clarity about the requirements of the 32 existing External Quality Assurance organisations (EQAs) will greatly help EPAOs to plan and develop their operations. 

  • Despite the considerable risks, a wide range of organisations are investing considerable amounts of resource into developing EPAs which are valid, reliable, and accessible to apprentices across England. 
The report can be found here: FAB End-Point Assessment Organisations Research – Rationale, Readiness and Risks