Choosing an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO)
There's a lot to think about when you're choosing an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO).
EPAOs literally didn't exist a year ago. They only came about after the introduction of end-point assessments (EPA) to help regulate the whole process. And what does regulation mean? RULES.
There are certain rules in place to make sure all assessments are unbiased and apprentices get a fair grade. Training providers and employers are allowed to register as EPAOs, but they're NOT allowed to assess their own apprentices. In fact, EPAO organisations and their staff must not have any affiliation with the apprentice they're assessing – they have to be completely independent.
That's the main rule to take note of, but there are a few other things to consider when you're choosing an EPAO:
1. Are they registered?
It's not a free-for-all out there – all end-point assessment organisations must be registered on the RoEPAO – the Register of End-Point Assessment Organisations. To get on the register, organisations must show proof of financial stability, corporate governance, assessment capacity and a delivery model – including a conflict of interest policy.
2. Are they relevant?
EPAOs must be listed against the apprenticeship standard you need assessing as they have to have experience in the sector. It's also worth checking out their assessors too. Assessors can't just be adjudicators; they should be experts in their field with practical experience of the occupation.
3. Are they ready?
Even though an EPAO is registered, they might not be ready to assess the specific standard you require. The only way to find out is to give them a call. Have a chat with their staff and ask to see mock tests, project topics or interview questions – this will also come in handy when you're supporting your apprentice through the gateway.
4. Are they independent?
This is the big one. Your EPAO must be completely independent. This means that neither the organisation nor the individual assessor can have any affiliation with the apprentice, employer or training provider. Basically, the person making the grading decision can't have anything to gain from the outcome of the assessment – if they do, it's seen as a conflict of interest.
This may sound pretty scary, but it's quite simple really. The EPAO will have a conflict of interest policy to ensure the credibility of their end-point assessments, so make sure you ask about this when you're choosing your EPAO.
5. Are they right for you?
At the end of the day, it's up to you who you choose. As long as you stick to these rules and make sure your EPAO delivers fair, quality end-point assessments, you're on to a winner.
Make sure your new end-point assessment organisation ticks all the right boxes with our EPAO checklist. There's space to fill in details about potential providers, and a selection of must-ask questions to help you find the perfect EPAO.