How do End-point Assessments work for Apprenticeships?

The End-point assessment (EPA) is a key element of any apprenticeship programme, but many employers might not understand its significance, or how they can support a learner through the crucial final stages.

End-point assessment (EPA) is an assessment of the knowledge, behaviours and skills that an apprentice has gained throughout their apprenticeship, in order to confirm that they are “occupationally competent” i.e. have the skills they need for the role.

These assessments are designed by employers in the sector and conducted by independent bodies known as end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs). For example, BCS is the end-point assessment body for apprenticeship pathways in IT. An Apprentice will only get their apprenticeship certificate once they have passed all the elements of their EPA.

What does the assessment involve?

Each apprenticeship includes an end-point assessment plan, which describes how the apprentice should be tested against appropriate criteria, using suitable methods. For example, your apprentice may need to complete:

  • A practical assessment.
  • An interview.
  • A project.
  • Written and/or multiple-choice tests.
  • A presentation.

Supporting an Apprentice through end-point assessment

Towards the end of an apprentice’s learning, you and the training provider will evaluate whether your apprentice is ready to complete their end-point assessment. This period is called gateway, and each apprenticeship pathway has different requirements which can be found on the Institute for apprenticeship’s’ website under “assessment plans”.

To prepare your apprentice for gateway you should;

  • Check that any work required as evidence for gateway has been submitted to the end-point assessment organisation in advance
  • Ensure the apprentice has achieved any required qualifications, such as English and maths.
  • Check with the apprentice to make sure they feel ready for end-point assessment.
  • Ensure the apprentice will be given enough time to complete any requirements for gateway.

To then progress to end-point assessment, you must agree with your training provider that the apprentice:

  • Is fully competent in the occupation as outlined in the apprenticeship standard.
  • Has achieved required qualifications.
  • Has met regulatory requirements in the assessment plan.
  • Has completed any work, such as a portfolio or logbook.

Undertaking End-point Assessment

As you near the end-point assessment, it’s important to check that the apprentice feels prepared. Their line manager and colleagues should know they’ll be undertaking their end-point assessment soon, so that they can provide support as needed. This may include mock assessments.

This can also prove a good opportunity to evaluate your apprentice’s position within your organisation, considering potential career progression opportunities after the end-point assessment.

Some Apprenticeship providers will also provide preparation sessions to support learners nearing their end-point assessment.

To prepare for the end-point assessment, you should ensure:

  • The apprentice knows the location of their assessment (virtual or on-site).
  • The apprentice has a contact for the day of their assessment.
  • Health and safety requirements are met if the assessment takes place in the workplace.
  • Any required equipment is in good work order (IT or otherwise).
  • The assessor can access the building as required.

After End-Point Assessment

If your apprentice is successful, the first thing to do is make sure they receive their certificate. The end-point assessment organisation is responsible for requesting this. If your apprentice is unsuccessful in any-part of their end-point assessment, you’ll need to work with the training provider and end-point assessment organisation to decide if a retake or a resit is the best way to progress.

A resit involves the apprentice resitting one or more components of their assessment without further training. A retake will mean the apprentice undergoes further training before they reattempt their assessment. In the event that your apprentice does need a retake, you’ll want to work closely with your training provider, who should provide an action plan outlining the re-training needed, as well as the estimated time this should take.

You are required to pay for resit or retake fees as agreed with the end-point assessment organisation at the beginning of the apprenticeship. You will also have the option to appeal to your assessment organisation if you do not agree with the result. If you are still unsatisfied after this process you can appeal to the external quality provider, the details of which you can get from your training provider.