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Apprenticeship providers will now have the opportunity to continue using remote delivery for apprenticeship assessments permanently.

During the Covid-19 pandemic the apprenticeship sector has made many vital temporary changes to ensure that learners and providers can continue to complete their programmes effectively, however now the institute for apprenticeships has announced that seven of the ten changes will now become a permanent option.

In February of this year, the institute committed to provide at least a three-month notice period before making any changes to the current apprenticeship flexibilities and discretions.

Temporary discretions (which only apply to specific apprenticeships), will all begin their notice period from today and be switched off on 31 December 2021.

Apprenticeship flexibilities will be retained where they genuinely add value. Seven of the flexibilities are going to be retained permanently, they are:

  • assessment gateway sign off being done remotely;
  • pauses being allowed between elements of end point assessments;
  • assessment element delivery being in any order;
  • simulated environments being used instead of observation in workplaces;
  • remote delivery of assessment (including invigilation);
  • assessments taking place outside of usual venues;
  • assessment exams being online instead of on paper.

The institute also stated that “It will be necessary to make some minor adjustments to make sure that quality can always continue to be protected once the impact of Covid-19 is significantly diminished.”

Three types of flexibilities will be discontinued from 1 January 2022.

  • The extension of the length of the end assessment period – because it disadvantages apprentices to have a long wait for their end point assessment (EPA) after passing through gateway.
  • Changes to who sits on assessment panels – during the Covid-19 period it wasn’t always possible to have an employer sit on a panel as many were furloughed or busy elsewhere. As the economy returns to normal, the original assessment plan can now be delivered, helping to protect quality for apprentices, maintain validity and improve learning for future apprentices.
  • Allowing other suitable evidence of achievement to be used in place of mandated qualifications – this is no longer needed because the mandated qualifications should become available as restrictions are relaxed.

However, The Department for Education has agreed to continue the flexibility waiving the requirement for level 2 apprentices to take level 2 functional skills tests. This was communicated to the sector via an update on 31 June and is in the new 21/22 funding rules.

For temporary discretions (which only apply to specific apprenticeships), all will begin their notice period from the 5th August 2021 and be switched off on 31 December 2021. Where there remain exceptional challenges to apprentices being able to complete their end point assessments (EPA) it will be possible to ask for temporary discretions to be retained beyond this period.

For more information regarding apprenticeships please call us on 01733 246415