Over the last few years, there have been significant changes in the way apprenticeship providers confirm that learners have the necessary skills and knowledge to complete their programmes. When NVQs were the core delivery model, apprentices usually had to build a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate competencies. When diplomas were introduced they had to demonstrate what they knew and what they could do. Apprenticeship standards are now very different. Learners have to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours and have them confirmed through endpoint assessment. Apprenticeship providers and employers have to be able to have confidence that their learner is ready for endpoint assessment. One way to gain this confidence is through the use of programme assessments.
Planning Apprenticeship On Programme Assessment
On programme assessment is the means by which providers and employers can confirm learner knowledge and skills throughout the apprenticeship. The first thing to consider before designing a programme is what OfSTED has to say about the use of assessment:
When used effectively, assessment can help learners to embed and use knowledge fluently and to show that they are competent in applying their skills.
The results of effective assessment assist teachers to produce clear and achievable next steps for learners. However, assessment is too often carried out in a way that creates unnecessary burdens for staff and learners. It is therefore important that leaders and teachers understand its limitations and avoid misuse and overuse.
Inspectors will evaluate how assessment supports the teaching of the curriculum, while not driving teachers towards excessive individualisation, differentiation or interventions that are almost impossible to deliver without lowering expectations of some learners and/or driving up teachers’ workload.
Developing an outcomes assessment plan
All programmes should have some form of outcomes assessment plan. Training staff need to understand the outcomes that need to be achieved and then identify the types of assessment that learners will need to complete to demonstrate they have achieved the assessment benchmark.
Each outcome will typically have more that one assessment requirement and staff need to set out why and what will be assessed, how it will be assessed and what the expectation is of learners. Expectations could be simply that a piece of evidence meets the assessor’s approval or could be graded in that learners will be expected to achieve a pass mark threshold.
It is really important to set out the benchmarks as it allows trainers, when conducting their programme reviews, to establish if learners achieved the thresholds and if they did not they will then be able to action plan improvement for future groups.
Identifying Apprenticeship Assessments
Assessments need to be discussed with learners as some requirements might not be achievable due to the nature of their work. There is little purpose asking a Business Administration apprentice to create a self-reflective account of how they use a CRM system if their business doesn’t use one. Trainers need to ensure that each module has a broad range of learning and the assessments are relevant to the learning. If the learning is too narrow then this will limit learner develop and potentially hinder them at EPA.
There are a few points that trainers should consider when designing their apprenticeship programmes:
- Identify the programme outcomes and ensure that they are all covered by an assessment activity (one activity may apply to multiple outcomes)
- Ensure that the workplace is the focus of learning but that they are supported with the theoretical knowledge that providers will deliver.
- Make sure the assessment activities are relevant to each individual learner
- Have a range of assessments that are either learning or practice related (assess their learning and practical ability)
- Use observations for competency-based assessment of knowledge, skills and behaviours
- Use self-reflective accounts to enable learners to consider their own skills and knowledge – this will help them focus on what else they need to develop
- Recognise that apprenticeships are long term programmes and their needs to be a range of delivery methods – blended learning, on the job learning, mentoring, shadowing etc
- Make sure that learning and assessment activities meet 20% of the job learning requirements
- Make learning and assessment are sequenced. Assessment needs to build on what learners already know and can do and prepare them for the next stage of their learning.
Assessment Plan Reviews
It is critical that trainers review the programme they are delivering and check that learners have achieved the benchmarks that they set in the outcomes assessment plan. If they haven’t then how will improvements be action planned?
Improving Apprenticeship Delivery
Assessment plans define how organisations measure performance and improve quality. The goal of outcomes assessment is to improve delivery programmes and ensure the most positive learning experience. Outcomes assessment is also a tool to measure performance against learning outcomes and apprenticeship standards. Assessment, when it is used correctly, is a powerful way to measure performance and to plan for endpoint assessment.
What is Stedfast?
Stedfast is an online platform designed to allow education and training providers to develop apprenticeship programmes and curriculum plans.
The core modules are:
- Outcomes assessment
- Curriculum planning
- Staff performance management
- Policies and procedures
- Risk assessment
If you would like to have a demo of Stedfast then please use the booking system on our contact page.