The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has extended three more flexibilities for apprenticeship assessments into the new year in response to the Omicron variant.
Instead of being switched off at the end of this month, the trio of discretions which apply to all apprenticeships will now run until midnight on 28 February 2022.
The three flexibilities allow:
- Changes to be made to who sits on the end point assessment interview/discussion panel (when someone in addition to the independent assessor is specified)
- Suitable evidence of achievements to be used in place of functional skills qualifications at gateway. IfATE say other mandated qualifications are covered under temporary discretions
- Extension to the length of the end-point assessment period where specified
Delivery director for the institute Rob Nitsch said: “Our priority remains the safety of employers, apprentices and off-the-job training and assessment providers, whilst allowing apprentices to carry on and complete their apprenticeships with minimum disruption whilst maintaining quality.
“We hope that the extension of the flexibilities for two months will play a significant role in doing just this and we will monitor the situation and make any further adjustments as necessary.”
This comes after seven other flexibilities, also introduced to help the sector through the Covid-19 pandemic, were extended for use until next March.
Education officials have scrambled together a response to the Omicron variant after prime minister Boris Johnson announced the imposition of new restrictions this week.
Ofsted suspended inspections set for next week, except where there are concerns about safeguarding, so providers can prepare contingency measures for next term.
The Department for Education also published an “urgent” update on Thursday, telling provider leaders what to do about January exams and plans to introduce daily contact testing for students under 18.
IfATE has updated guidance about using more than 60 temporary discretions for specific apprenticeships, some of which have been given a six-month extension following requests from their sectors. Others will be available until midnight 28 February.