In order to achieve an apprenticeship, you must successfully pass the End Point Assessment (EPA). The EPA is carried out by an independent assessor from the End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) after you have met all the requirements of gateway.
Each apprenticeship standard has an EPA assessment plan which sets out the requirements, assessment methods and grading criteria for the EPA. The EPA format and requirements vary depending on the standard that the apprenticeship has been mapped to and is designed to assess the apprentice’s achievement of the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) as set out in the apprenticeship standard.
Elements of the EPA
The EPA is usually split into two elements (dependent on the standard): a project showcase and a professional discussion. The assessment plan for each apprenticeship standard breaks down the KSBs into individual competencies and dictates which are to be covered in each element of the EPA. Below are the requirements for the Level 7 Senior Leader standard. Other standards may have different requirements.
The project showcase is based on a topic that is to be agreed between you and your employer, and must be of benefit to the business. The project showcase must be achievable within the employer’s business constraints, whilst meeting the needs of the EPA.
Examples of projects are:
- The rebranding of a family business following diversification;
- The market research and business planning for a new service;
- Reviewing and making recommendations for improving a service delivery area;
- Designing and delivering service change across locations and teams;
- The development of data analytics to expand marketing opportunities;
- Strategic development of a global company;
- International marketing of a global company.
The project showcase must cover:
- What you set out to achieve, how you approached the work and dealt with any issues;
- The key outcomes of the work-based project;
- Recommendations and lessons learned from the work-based project.
The project showcase consists of:
- A report of 4,000 words (+/-10%),
- A presentation of 20 minutes (+/-10%),
- A questioning session of 25-30 minutes.
It must be completed in the last six months of the on-programme period. It must be face-to-face (except in exceptional circumstances) and is recorded for quality assurance purposes.
The project showcase can be integrated into the academic programme, for example, one module on the Executive MBA is an independent work-based project, which serves as a basis of the project showcase. Whilst the project does not have to be complete by the time the EPA is conducted, it must be a live project.
The professional discussion is a discussion that takes place between you and the independent assessor from the EPAO. During your apprenticeship, you must build and produce a portfolio of evidence which demonstrates how you have achieved and applied the KSBs in your workplace. From the portfolio, you will choose a number of key pieces of evidence, cross‐reference them to each competency criterion, and provide a narrative of how the evidence demonstrates your achievement and application of the KSBs in your workplace.
This portfolio, once complete and submitted, will be reviewed by the independent assessor, from which they will structure a series of discussion topics to explore aspects of your work, including how it was carried out, in more detail.
The professional discussion:
- Consists of a structured series of topic areas;
- Is driven by the independent assessor's review of the apprentice's portfolio of evidence;
- Is 50-60 minute in duration;
- Explores aspects of the work, including how it was carried out, in more detail.
The professional discussion must be face to face (except in exceptional circumstances) and is recorded for quality assurance purposes.
Who is the independent assessor?
The independent assessor is the individual appointed by the EPAO to carry out and assess you during the EPA.
What is evidence?
The evidence contained in your portfolio will comprise a number of discrete pieces of work that cover the KSBs as set out to be assessed in the EPA in the professional discussion. This will be a range of materials and documents generated by you over the period of your apprenticeship which provide evidence of your achievement and application of the KSBs in the workplace.
Examples of evidence could be:
- Reflective journals;
- Minutes of meetings;
- Demonstrations and presentations;
- Credible witness statements;
- 360 degree feedback from managers and peers;
- Project plans and documentation;
- Assignments, research projects etc.
A record of the on-programme progress reviews undertaken will also be needed as part of the portfolio of evidence.
What if my evidence contains sensitive information?
Any information that is deemed sensitive and shouldn’t be shared in the format it is in shouldn’t be used. Even submitted another way, this information would still be shared with the EPAO. Therefore, any sensitive information should be redacted and non-identifiable information should instead be used. If this can’t be achieved, then you shouldn’t use that information.
How many pieces of evidence are required for the EPA?
This varies between 10 and 20 depending on the apprenticeship standard.
Can the professional discussion be online?
The professional discussion must be face-to-face with the independent assessor or, in exceptional circumstances, via live media, for example, where you are working abroad or based on a restricted site.
The professional discussion will be recorded by the independent assessor (using audio or video recording).
What are the confidentiality requirements for evidence?
Where necessary, confidentiality and data protection requirements must be adhered to, e.g. permissions for use of video/images containing identifiable third parties (such as clients), anonymisation of documentation and permissions from clients when submitting information relevant to them.
What happens if I don't have exposure to some aspects of the standard in my job (e.g. finance)?
You should be supported by your manager and provided with opportunities to gain exposure to areas required by the apprenticeship standard which you may not otherwise normally be exposed to. For example, if you do not have exposure to finance in your role, your manager should help you to identify areas you could gain this experience, such as attending budget meetings, for example.
Before the EPA can take place, you must proceed through gateway. Gateway is the point at which the employer must declare that they are confident that you are ready for your assessment. There are a number of requirements that must be evidenced before you can be put forward for your EPA. This includes reviewing your portfolio, along with the training provider, to ensure that all competencies have been met and that your portfolio is in line with any guidance relating to the type and amount of evidence required.
Requirements of gateway
- Successful completion of a level 7 academic qualification stated in the apprenticeship standard (e.g. a master’s degree in management);
- Achievement of English and mathematics level 2 or higher;
- Completion of a work-based project (project showcase);
- Hold a portfolio of evidence (for the professional discussion).
The EPAO is an independent organisation which is responsible for assessing your achievement and application of the KSBs set out in the apprenticeship standard. EPAOs have to be listed on the Register of End Point Assessment Organisations for the standard on which they are assessing so that apprentices on each standard are assessed consistently. The decision on which EPAO to choose is made by the employer, usually in agreement with you.
Depending on the EPAO chosen, they may provide resources and further benefits to apprentices who have registered with them. Benefits could include dual accreditation and online library resources.
What are the EPAOs available for the standard my apprenticeship is mapped to?
The Register of End Point Assessment Organisations lists all the organisations that have been authorised to act as an EPAO for all active standards. The register is updated monthly and can be found on the UK Government's website.
Cranfield can provide further, more detailed information on individual EPAOs.
My employer and I have decided which EPAO we want; what now?
Inform the Apprenticeships Team by emailing email@example.com with your choice and that you are happy for them to contact the EPAO to register you for their EPA services.
Will the EPAO be able to see my work prior to the EPA?
The EPAO does not have access to, and cannot provide feedback on, your work throughout your apprenticeship. The EPAO only sees the portfolio of evidence and project report once are and your employer are happy with it and it has been submitted at gateway.