When should I register with my EPAO?

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    Greetings readers! This post has been created to answer one of our most frequently asked questions – “When should I register with my EPAO?”. Given that a 2020 survey conducted by The Apprentice Panel showed that preparation for EPA scored poorly, it’s clearly a bit of a grey area.

    There’s no official guideline that states how far in advance you should register apprentices with End Point Assessment Organisations. These differ between the various partners involved in Apprenticeship Standards. The consensus is ‘as early as possible’ to enable the EPAO to provide the necessary support.

    We have put together this useful guide that collates the guidelines from a range of organisations, which we hope will help you come to an informed decision about when to register.

    ACE360 is the designated end-point assessment (EPA) platform for many Framework Apprenticeships in England. To find out more, please get in touch.

    What is an end-point assessment (EPA)?

    Let’s start with the basics. The EPA is a final assessment which is taken on the completion of an apprentice’s training and is designed to measure their competence in a specific occupation. ALL apprentices must eventually complete an End Point Assessment if pursuing an apprenticeship standard.

    Each assessment plan outlines the methods and criteria that apprentices must meet at the end of their apprenticeship to demonstrate their competence and readiness to work in their chosen occupation.

    The end-point assessments must be conducted by a registered End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). This organisation must be a third party to ensure the assessment of any apprentice is completely impartial. Only once the End-Point Assessment has successfully been completed will an apprentice be able to receive their apprenticeship certificate.

    How do you register with an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO)?

    Given the impartiality required, the EPA must be conducted by a third party. Employers can work with the training providers to initiate the registration by selecting a suitable EPAO and contracting with them on behalf of the apprentice.

    The government launched the Apprenticeship Provider Assessment Register APAR in August 2023, which replaced the former register of end-point assessment organisations (RoEPAO). The APAR brings together all of the apprenticeship training providers and EPAOs on a single register.

    Search the register of End Point Assessment Organisations here.

    Can a training provider select an EPAO?

    Yes, a training provider can select an End Point Assessment Organisation for their apprentices, although it’s helpful if the employer and training provider collaborate on the decision. In some cases, the employer wishes to select an EPAO themselves.

    Once appointed, the training provider typically becomes the point of contact for the EPAO and is responsible for paying their fee.

    Published guidance on when to appoint an EPAO

    In the answer to the question “When should I register with my EPAO?” here is our round-up of the various guidelines.

    External Quality Assurance (IFATE) – 6 Months Before End Point

    Guidance from the EQA Framework is that apprentices should be registered 6 months before the estimated end date.

    At least six months before the estimated end date, the employer/Training Provider registers the apprentice with their chosen EPAO (dates should be updated as they change) – page 28

    Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Guidance – Within 3 Months Of Start Date

    When you register the apprentice on the Individualised Learner Record (ILR), you need to select an EPAO. You can move and change EPAOs upon the request of the provider. The guidance states that registration with EPAO should be within 3 months.

    Your training provider must contract with your chosen EPAO on your behalf within 3 months of the apprenticeship starting. Section 5

    Read more

    Guidance from your chosen EPAO – 3-18 Months Before Gateway

    Your EPAO may dictate the amount of notice required for EPA, which can range from 3 months to 18 months before gateway, sometimes even further in advance. In fact, EPAOs often give preferential treatment to organisations that register apprentices early.

    What is consistent across all EPAOs is that the more notice they have, the better support they can provide. There is a direct positive correlation between grades and preparedness of the provider and EPAO.

    Industry Best Practice – Average 640 Days Before Gateway Date

    Industry best practice is to provide as much notice as possible. On average, apprentice records on ACE360 are registered 640 days before the expected gateway date.

    We see evidence of best practice from many of our customers, and here is what they do:

    • Register at the start of the programme
    • Provide secure access to unlimited employees across the organisation
    • Track the progress of the learner through to gateway
    • Upload unlimited pieces of gateway evidence and delete the ones they don’t need
    • Have early planning meetings with their EPAOs, years before the EPA date.

    Guidance From ACE360 – At Registration Of Apprenticeship

    Finally, here’s ACE360’s take on when to register with an EPAO.

    Our priority is for your apprentices to get the best results possible, which means registering at the commencement of the apprenticeship. We offer the following to enable you to do so.

    • ACE360 is levy deductible from TNP1
    • 90-day automatic refund – if the apprentice withdraws on ACE360 within 90 days of starting the programme, we’ll automatically provide you another token on ACE360.
    • LMS / MIS integration – connect ACE360 directly to your learner management system with an Open API.
    • Fixed price – it’s only a fiver, and it lasts the whole lifetime of the apprentice’s programme and 6 years after certification. So on a 4 year programme, the apprentice could be on ACE360 for 10 years. That’s a bargain at 50p per year!

    So, to get the most out of your £7.50 + VAT, why not register apprentices early and benefit from the industry-leading platform – ACE360?

    P.S. If you need any help loading apprentices, our team will be there to help you all the way.

    Conclusion

    Determining when to register apprentices with an End Point Assessment Organisation is a critical decision that can significantly impact the apprentice’s success. The ideal timing varies based on guidelines from different organisations, but early registration, typically within the range of 3 to 18 months before the gateway, is often recommended.

    Early registration allows the learner to fully understand the assessment criteria and gives them ample time for preparation. The EPAO can also provide better support and guidance, and track their progress throughout the apprenticeship.

    ACE360, as a designated EPA platform, encourages early registration and offers a host of advantages to facilitate a seamless transition from training to assessment.

    This post was written by Robert Herriot

    Picture of Robert Herriot

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