Has the role of the assessor changed?
In the new world of apprenticeships, a lot has changed – especially for assessors.
The new standards, levy, and EPA have changed how UK apprenticeships work – reflecting a shift from assessing to learning. Instead of being continually assessed throughout their programme, apprentices are now supported by mentors until they're ready to take the EPA. When the changes were first introduced, many assessors were worried that the reforms would render their role redundant – which hasn't been the case. Assessors have just had to be flexible and adapt to their new positions.
So, almost one year on, how has the role of the assessor changed?
The most obvious change is the name of the role. Most assessors are now referred to as mentors, coaches or tutors.
Assessors/mentors still need to plan learning around the standards. The standards are broken down into criteria, which can be planned against in the same way as the frameworks – so it's a home from home really.
Although assessors can't assess the end-point, they can support apprentices, evaluate their work and send feedback. Most apprentices will still collect a portfolio of evidence to showcase their skills, and to practice observations and professional discussions in preparation for the EPA – so assessors will still need to provide the same guidance as before. This sounds like a major change, so staff will need a bit of time to get used to all the subtle differences.
Since the reforms, assessors have had a whole new set of skills to develop – and their targets have started to reflect this. Apprentices are now graded too, so assessors can measure how many of their apprentices achieve the highest grades.
Employers are now more involved in apprenticeships than ever before, so assessors need to work closely with them to plan activities, provide support and make sure their learners are ready to take the EPA. Assessors need to collaborate with their apprentices more too. Assessors are not the ones assessing work anymore, so they'll have to build strong working relationships and provide reliable support.
The role has changed, but assessors are already starting to get used to their new positions. To find out what you can do to give your assessors the support they need, download our free checklist. We've asked 7 practical steps to make the transition as smooth as possible.