Despite the technical challenges that have affected, apprentices, apprenticeship providers and assessment centres, a report by the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (IfATE) has praised the flexibility of providers and support offered to apprentices.
The IfATE External Quality Assurance report was the first annual independent report into apprenticeship assessments and highlights the ways in which apprentices and their employers adapted to the current circumstances.
The report acknowledged that despite being the first one, it took place under the backdrop of a truly atypical year, and how providers maintained quality and progress for apprentices whilst also keeping people safe.
Remote technology in particular was highlighted, and the ability for assessments to be completely remotely was praised for maintaining stability in unstable times. Many of these remote assessment methods are set to be kept at least until March.
The report also noted that the vast majority of assessment was being delivered effectively by a wide range of organisations and also worked to highlight the level of an apprentice’s knowledge.
The common trend to successful apprenticeship delivery is ensuring the courses provided were both authentic to the job and also taught relevant skills and knowledge to ensure apprentices succeed in the sector.
Occupational expertise is key, and a lack of this expertise can undermine the quality of any assessment and lead it to be too general.
The best assessments took advantage of the knowledge of experts in the industry, as well as independent advisors and experts in assessment to create a high standard of materials.
It is not enough to simply know about effective assessment or about the industry of which the apprenticeship course pertains to, but must take advantage of both fields in order to effectively assess the skill level of apprenticves.
Internal quality assurance was highlighted, and one major point the IfATE seeks to improve is how feedback and the quality of assessment materials is checked, to avoid problems only coming to light after the delivery of an assessment has already begun.
Outside of this, other noted highlights include concerns regarding version control, a potential consequence of the rapid shifts in assessment delivery caused by the current circumstances.
As well as this, the standardisation of grading has been a key focus for the IfATE, ensuring that making guides and assessment plans provide enough detail to effectively guide markers into providing consistent and effective indicators for key competancies.
Reasonable adjustments, according to the report, were delivered well and work effectively, however different organisations who were new to the apprenticeship sector had varying levels of understanding when it came to reasonable adjustments, which as caued the IfATE to investigate.
Finally, preparing apprentices for the final end-point assessment has been a key priority for the IfATE. Ensuring that apprentices are able to showcase their knowledge, skills and abilities is vital to ensuring they are able to showcase their best.
The solution for this is a mixture of ensuring revision materials are available and ready, and that employers are engaged when recommending apprenticeships for end-point assessments.