Latest Update on COVID-19 flexibilities

To maintain progress, achievement and delivery of EPA, the Institute has permitted flexibilities and discretions to assessment plans. These allow apprentices to complete their apprenticeship in the event of disruption.

The Institute has extended all EPA flexibilities and discretions put in place due to COVID-19 until 28 February 2022. Some flexibilities will be retained permanently and will apply to all apprenticeships. The Institute has published a framework to set out how these flexibilities will be applied from 1 March 2022.

Temporary discretions, which apply only to specific apprenticeships, began their notice period on 5 August 2021 and will now end on 28 February 2022. Some discretions will remain for occupations which are still experiencing disruption due to COVID-19. The Institute has set out when each discretion will end.

Further detail here

IfATE update on COVID-19 flexibilities following the latest Government guidance

The Institute for Apprenticeships has now decided to move back the date for when planned changes to flexibilities will be introduced. The intention is to minimise disruption for the sector in early 2022 and maximise the number of apprentices who are able to complete their apprenticeships whilst quality is maintained.

The decision was taken after the government moved to Plan B of its Covid-19 response to keep the public as safe as possible from the Omicron variant and following engagement with sector bodies.

Click the link to read the full announcement. Covid-19 plan B

Apprenticeship flexibilities for the long term have been announced by IfATE

The Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education have published the seven flexibilities that will be retained as options to use beyond January and they are: 

  1. Observations taking place in simulated environments 
  2. Remote delivery of assessment (including invigilation)   
  3. Pauses being allowed between assessment methods during end-point assessment period  
  4. Assessments taking place outside of usual venues  
  5. Delivery of assessment methods in any order (when a specified order is in the assessment plan) 
  6. Exams/tests being online instead of on paper (where originally specified as paper based only) 
  7. Gateway sign off being done remotely (where originally specified as having to be face to face) 

The three to be switched off on 31 December are:

  1. Changes being made to who sits on the EPA interview/discussion panel (when someone in addition to the independent assessor is specified) 

To note: 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. 

  1. Allowing other suitable evidence of achievements being used in replacement of functional skills qualifications at gateway (other mandated qualifications are covered under temporary discretions) 

To note: This is no longer needed because the mandated qualifications should become available and achievable as restrictions are relaxed and training providers reopen. 

  1. Extension to the length of the end-point assessment period (where specified) 

To note: Decision made because it disadvantages apprentices to have a long wait for their EPA after passing through gateway. 

The full announcement can be read at the following link – New framework explains how apprenticeship flexibilities will work in long-term / Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

ESFA latest update: 19 October 2021

ESFA latest update: 19 October 2021

The ESFA have added an extension to IfATE discretions and flexibilities to end-point assessment which are as follows:

  • Removed the apprentices on furlough section as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has ended
  • Removed the section on temporary flexibility permitting end-point assessment prior to FSQ achievement as it has ended

Further information can be found at Providing apprenticeships during the COVID-19 pandemic – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Permanent and discontinued flexibilities in Apprenticeships from January 2022

The Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education published an update on 5th August 2021 on the current flexibilities, which will see seven amendments come into permanent effect from the 1st January 2022. The institute will publish further guidance on how the seven flexibilities will be implemented later in the summer of 2022. The updated guidance can be found here, which also includes the plans to discontinue three types of current flexibilities from the 1st January 2022 which are:

  • Permitting email confirmation as evidence of achievement of qualifications where awarding organisations were unable to issue certificates
  • Enabling apprentices to spend more than 50% of their working hours outside England where they were unable to return to England to work
  • Permitting end-point assessment prior to FSQ achievement

If you would like to view the temporary discretions and flexibilities currently in place, click here.