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End point assessment crisis

"End point assessment crisis" - what crisis? While apocalyptic forecasts are over-stated, end-point assessment is struggling

The shrill clamour of doom-mongers foretelling meltdown for end point assessment following FE Week’s analysis of the government’s latest apprenticeship statistics, were a little premature.

The article details FE leaders’ dire warnings that “the first wave of learners are reaching the end of their courses without a final test in place.” It claims that EPA “has hit crisis point”, with many apprentices left unable to complete without an organisation there to deliver final exams.

However, readers who dial down commentators’ animated opprobrium and actually study the figures, will discover that small numbers of apprentices are actually working without an EPA. It is true that numbers have risen in the last few years, but those hit are in the hundreds compared to the many thousands successfully assessed.

While it is, of course, entirely wrong that anybody should be in their situation, teething problems crop up in any transition period and some were inevitable in the move to standards.

Long-term, though, there is an underlying concern. Too many end point assessment organisations (EPAOs) are reporting that there is not a critical mass of assessors to cover a lot of the standards and some standards are not commercially viable. They also find them too complex and demanding to do justice to their assessment strategies, running the risk of not being able to validate apprentices competently.

We have no such difficulties.

Unlike EPAOs that are reporting difficulties, NOCN has the funding, experience, firmly established relationships and expert staff to deliver an unbeatable service at the best price. As a not-for-profit, we are driven by social ambitions and EDI, rather than commercial pressures. All profits are ploughed into providing a better, broader service that always meets the ever-changing needs of learners and employers operating in hyper-competitive markets.

The FE Week article confirmed NOCN’s official status as the UK’s top independent end point assessment organisation of all 92 registered providers. With the highest number of approvals to undertake EPA on Apprenticeship Standards, we are now appointed for 38 standards across eight of the 15 new routes/sectors. Leading all competitors – and well ahead of Pearson, City & Guilds and NCFE – NOCN is working busily to pull further away from the trailing pack by adding even more to our portfolio.

As the country’s number one EPAO, approved for the highest number of standards, we are always able to make apprenticeships work for training providers and employers – ensuring that all learners have the knowledge skills and behaviours required for the new employer-led apprenticeship standards, ultimately providing employers with apprentices they can rely on.

A registered charity, established 30 years ago, we work with employing organisations, colleges, training providers and apprentices from pre-assessment through to completion. Our long experience, highly-skilled workforce and excellent productivity make for a consistently flexible, cost-effective service that provides robust assessments of the highest quality.

As such, we have a proven track record of delivering EPA for businesses large and small. These range from SMEs of all types through to high street banks and retailers and we work across a wide range of sectors – among them, financial services, construction and healthcare.

Many exciting developments and innovations are on the way. To find out about these and how your organisation and learners can benefit from the UK’s top end point assessment service, get in touch with our assessment team - 0300 999 1177 www.nocn.org.uk