Apprenticeship standards: integrating assessment into on-programme learning
Unlike the old frameworks, the new apprenticeship standards don’t include official on-programme assessment – but this doesn’t mean you can forget about assessment altogether. It’s best practice to weave different types of assessment into on-programme learning. This adds structure to your curriculum, helps you provide personal feedback and support, and prepares apprentices for end-point assessment (EPA).
What assessment methods can be used?
Go to the assessment plan to see what methods will be used in the EPA and include these in your training plan. You don’t have to stick these methods though – include a mix. Ofsted wants assessments to be varied, interesting and relevant – that's when assessment is most effective.
It’s mostly common sense – you'll know which assessment methods are most relevant to the standard. Don’t ask a dentistry apprentice to sit a 3-hour exam to prove their competence. A practical assessment, observation or professional discussion would be more relevant and useful to the apprentice.
When should assessment be included on programme?
You can start including assessment right from the beginning of the programme. Using self-assessment is a great way to introduce assessment early. Ask the apprentice to rate their understanding of different topics before they start so they can see their ratings increase as they progress.
You can also include different assessment methods for different modules or units of learning.
If the apprentice is learning the knowledge outcomes in the standard, test their knowledge with a multiple-choice quiz. Or if one of their end-point assessment methods is professional discussion, ask them questions during their next progress review.
During a skills module, you can do an observation or practical assessment to assess how the apprentice applies their skills. If the EPA includes portfolio showcase, ask the apprentice to prepare a 10-minute presentation to showcase evidence of their skills.
Behaviours can be tricky to assess and are often overlooked as ‘soft skills’. However, they’re a really important part of the KSBs and should be included in on-programme learning and assessment.
For example, if the behaviour is ‘works well as part of a team’, use a professional discussion or interview to assess if the apprentice has met the behaviour. Instead of asking them directly, ‘do you work well in a team’, ask them to give examples of when they’ve collaborated with employees at work. This way, you’ll get evidence of their behaviour, rather than a yes or no answer.
How often should assessment be included on-programme?
Although on-programme assessment isn’t an official assessment of competence, it’s a powerful tool for teaching, learning and progression. On-programme assessment gives apprentices the opportunity to gather evidence, receive feedback and prepare for EPA, so use as much on-programme assessment as possible. Remember, assessment doesn’t have to be formal – a quick knowledge test or interview practice in a progress review counts as on-programme assessment.
For a full list of all the assessment methods used in EPA and on-programme assessment, download your free assessment list. It covers the most common methods and examples for you to use in your teaching and learning plan.
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