We understand and appreciate the range of enquiries we are receiving from our customers during these unprecedented times and we are continuing to work closely with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) and EPA Quality Assurance Providers (EQAPs); the Apprenticeship Assessment Service and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and a host of support agencies to try and provide answers and solutions to all of your concerns and challenges as quickly as possible. We are monitoring guidance on a daily basis and will share further announcements made by the government as they happen.
To supplement our direct correspondence support, we will be publishing answers to some of our most frequently asked questions (FAQs)* here for you.
Please also find more advice and guidance from IfATE here
*We will be updating this page regularly, so we encourage you to please check-in and stay up to date with our latest information here. (last updated 06/05/20)
Changes to arrangements for EPA will apply with immediate effect.
Can we still register our apprentices for EPA?
Registrations can still be made via our online system, Odyssey.
What Gateway evidence can be submitted?
If it is not possible to submit a certification of statement of results from an awarding body, we will accept the following evidence types for maths/English/other qualifications. The evidence must state the apprentice’s full name, date of birth, the name of the qualification, the name of the awarding organisation, the date of achievement and the grade awarded:
- Personal Learning Record (PLR)
- SIMS or CMIS report but this must be authenticated by the school/college and signed by an examinations officer or similar.
- Covid-19 Dispensation only: evidence from an Awarding Organisation – this can be a screenshot or an email, but it must contain an official signature.
What if apprentices have not yet achieved the functional skills qualifications?
Ofqual are currently consulting on proposals for the awarding of vocation and technical qualifications which include proposed arrangements for Functional Skills.
Legacy Functional Skills – the end date has now been extended to 31 December 2020. This will enable apprentices who are currently working towards these qualifications to be able to complete them.
Apprentices undertaking a level 3 or higher apprenticeship are still required to hold or achieve an approved level 2 functional skills English and maths qualification, before they can successfully complete their apprenticeship.
Can Gateway be signed off remotely?
We can accept digital signatures for Gateway and if that is not possible, an email from the employer confirming readiness for EPA. If the EPA plan specifies a time limit by which the EPA must be completed post Gateway, this may now be extended by up to 12 weeks.
What do we do if we have already scheduled EPAs?
If you have already scheduled EPAs, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss alternative arrangements. This applies whether you have scheduled the dates on Odyssey or discussed with a member of the EPA team. We will need you to share with us the reasons for postponement or cancellation, as we need to keep a record of changes so that we can work with you to reschedule activities in line with guidance from the regulators.
Do the EPA assessment methods still have to be completed in the set order?
No. The requirement for assessment methods to be completed in a set order has been relaxed to allow for flexibility in delivery, where this is deemed reasonable and flexible.
Are there alternative arrangements for standards requiring a mandated face-to-face assessment?
Current guidance means that we cannot conduct any face-to-face assessments. We have suggested alternative solutions for a number of standards and will keep you updated as soon as we receive guidance on any changes that can be made.
If you have EPAs booked that require a face-to-face assessment, we will contact you to discuss rescheduling.
Can standards that can be assessed remotely be carried out at home?
Yes, they can. Professional discussions and interviews can be carried out at the apprentice’s home. You will need to let us know what arrangements have been put in place and confirm that the apprentice has the appropriate technology, which will include a webcam (video/audio) and ideally headphones. Our team can talk you through how the assessment will be carried out and provide the apprentice with guidance on how to use the online system.
If an apprentice has completed part of the EPA but now cannot progress what should we do?
If, for example, the apprentice has completed a knowledge test but cannot progress on to the next part of the EPA, they can be put on a break in learning. This can be for up to 12 weeks.
Please keep us informed about any breaks in learning that are issued and ensure you update the ILR. The information from the ILR informs the pipeline of EPA activity.
Can an apprentice continue with their apprenticeship training and their EPA if they have been furloughed?
Apprentices can carry out training and assessment if they have been furloughed and they can undertake their EPA. However, EPA is not considered essential travel at this time so this can only happen if the EPA is able to be carried out remotely.
If the EPA contains a work-based project it may be possible for the apprentice to complete this from home under furlough.
Will SFJ Awards continue to issue results?
We will continue to upload a Statement of Achievement on to Odyssey and claim certificates via the ESFA portal. We expect to receive further guidance about issuing printing certificates and will issue an update when this is provided.
Are cancellation charges still in operation?
We understand that these are very difficult and uncertain times and that personal situations are changing daily. We will do all we can to minimise disruption and provide support to you and your apprentices and will adapt our approach to work on a case by case basis.
Following the guidance issued by the government on 23/03/2020 we have and are continuing to seek support from External Quality Assurance Providers (EQAPs) as to what flexibilities and adaptations can be put in place to support our customers.
A full list of standards with temporary discretions or flexibilities is here:
Please contact us to discuss how these can be applied in your organisation.
Temporary flexibility for training providers
The ESFA has temporarily suspended the funding rule that states the apprentice must have the approved level of FSQs in English and Maths before gateway. Apprentices who are gateway ready and deemed as having the necessary functional skills and sufficient evidence to demonstrate this to receive a FSQ pass can complete their EPA now. Find out more here
Furlough and Job Retention Scheme
Guidance from the Institute for Apprenticeships and TechEd (IfATE)
Guidance from the DFE and ESFA
The SFJ Awards EPA Team are here to support you during these difficult times.
Please contact us for advice on any EPA issues or to keep us updated.