Our inaugural joint conference attracted over 170 delegates including exhibitors, speakers, independent assessors and assessment organisations to the Marriot Hotel in Leicester. We had high profile speakers from both industry and regulatory bodies such as the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and Ofqual.

The topics discussed included external quality assurance, emerging issues and information on the new IfATE Quality Framework was launched. Seminar sessions focused on Degree Apprenticeships, Maintaining the Quality of Assessors, Employer Challenges and Lessons Learnt. You can view the presentations here.

Conference poll

 During our EPA 2019 conference we launched digital opinion polls. The questions posed and the audience votes were as follows:

  1. It has been 6 years since the apprenticeship reforms, introducing end point assessment as a policy goal. How well do you think the reforms are going? This was asked at the beginning of the conference and then again at the end.
  2. What do you see as the main challenges of External Quality Assurance?
  3. What is the most significant challenge to quality in end-point assessment?
  4. Is the narrow focus on job-role specific apprenticeship standards the right approach to benefit the skills needs of the economy?

Question 1 Breakdown – start of conference Vs end of conference

The results at the beginning of the conference were heavily weighted towards end point assessment reforms not going so well. However the results at the end of the conference were better balanced between the answers ‘well’ and ‘not so well’, albeit with a smaller selection of respondents.

Question 2  -What do you see as the main challenges of External Quality Assurance?

Many of the delegates felt that due to the lack of common approach and the range of EQAOs, consistency and guidance was lacking.Quite a divided opinion to this poll question and this is probably due to the range of experience of different organisations. As we know there are a lot of new apprenticeship providers with varying degrees of understanding of assessment plans and standards. Perhaps this needs to be considered.

Question 3 – What is the most significant challenge to quality in end-point assessment?

The biggest challenges were seen to be being able to plan and forecast to meet demand, followed by clarity of assessment plans. This presented no surprises to many delegates as it is a common conversation piece. The Assessors Guild are addressing both of these issues and conducted a Capacity and Capability Study with recommendations which has been sent to the IfATE and other regulatory bodies. The third challenge was seen as finding enough high quality assessors. The Assessors Guild have recently launched the Register of Assessors (RoA) which seeks to address the potential shortfall of available assessors.

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Question 4 – Is the narrow focus on job role specific apprenticeship standards the right approach to benefit the needs of the economy?

The maybe’s and not sure’s took this, with 20 in total. The highest polled answer was yes however, with 14 answers and 9 for no.

We are sure that other conclusions will be drawn on the results of these polls, so we would be interested to hear your views.