Special measures that have enabled 25,000 apprentices to complete their end-point assessment during the Covid-19 pandemic will be retained until at least March 2021.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s chief executive Jennifer Coupland will tell delegates watching the Skills World Live Apprenticeships conference tomorrow that the extension has been granted in light of the new national restrictions that will run during November.

Apprenticeship assessments usually involve an element of face-to-face assessment, which was not possible due to movement and social distancing restrictions during lockdown.

Flexibilities have been introduced to 132 apprenticeship standards since the first lockdown in March 2020. The IfATE announced in July that the measures would remain in place until January 2021.

The flexibilities vary for each standard but can include using technology to conduct observations or professional discussions remotely and reordering assessment methods so that written tests or professional discussions can be taken now and the observation delivered later.

Coupland said that she recognises it will not be “business as usual” for all apprenticeships as many businesses temporarily close during November.

But where training can continue, “we would expect that providers will work as closely as possible with employers to make sure that apprentices who are on their programmes can continue to advance their off-the-job training during the month of lockdown and hopefully progress if they’re about to take an end-point assessment”.

“They will be able to take advantage of the flexibilities that the institute has put in place to enable those end-point assessments to happen even during lockdown,” she added.

“About 25,000 apprentices have managed to complete since lockdown. And we’re really confident that we’ve done that in a way that protects quality.

“So in light of this current, new lockdown, we have decided that it’s right to extend those flexibilities until the end of March to give people some certainty that that the existing regime will continue for the foreseeable future.”

Coupland said the institute will review this timeframe again in March.

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