End-point assessment organisations were honoured today during the first-ever EPA Awards – with judges recognising winners’ efforts to overcome challenges posed by the pandemic and Brexit.
The inaugural EPA Awards, run by the Federation of Awarding Bodies, recognised the contributions made by end-point assessment organisations to apprentices, employers and to education and skills in England over the past year.
“We’re delighted that for these inaugural awards we received so many entries dedicated to celebrating the achievements of end point assessment organisations,” said Federation of Awarding Bodies chief executive Tom Bewick.
Bewick said the awards marked a “crucial point” when the majority of EPAOs in the marketplace are now being “properly regulated” by a statutory body in Ofqual.
“We’re moving to a new system where only the very best organisations will be able to continue to offer end-point assessment services in future,” he said.
“There was tough competition for the best-in-class winners of each of the four EPAO categories, which is why the independent judges decided to announce four highly commended EPAOs as well. And we congratulate all the finalists this year.”
Association of Apprentices chief executive Emily Austin and Association of Colleges director of diversity Jeff Greenidge judged the awards.
Professional Assessment Ltd, which does EPA for over 20 standards for sectors including healthcare and retail, won the ‘multi standards EPAO of the year (SME)’ award – with judges saying the organisation “conveyed their passion and focus on service”.
The judging panel was impressed with their approach to communication with all parties, and in particular their helpline for apprentices during the pandemic regardless of whether they were a PAL apprentice or not.
Picking up the ‘multi standards EPAO of the year (50 + on payroll)’ award was Innovate Awarding. The organisation does EPA for over 50 apprenticeships.
Judges said Innovate Awarding’s work to support other EPAOs with responses to the pandemic and for Ofqual approval “is excellent and will have a significant and long-lasting impact on the entire sector”.
FDQ, which does EPA for 11 standards in the food sector, won the ‘specialist sector based EPAO of the year’ award.
“This was such a hard category for our judges. All of the entrants have demonstrated how they have overcome the challenges of the pandemic, Brexit and the regulatory environment,” a spokesperson for the Federation of Awarding Bodies said.
“The submissions convey deep knowledge and passion for their sector and how they contribute to the UK’s economic success.
“FDQ have won this award because their entry demonstrated that they focussed on building a sustainable business while responding to external changes and pressures.”
And the ‘best collaboration to deliver EPA services’ award went to NCFE – the EPA for over 30 standards.
Judges said NCFE’s relationship with Fika – an app that supports apprentices’ mental fitness – is a “brilliant example of leading-edge excellence” that will have a “significant impact on apprentices and will contribute at scale, to apprenticeships as a whole”.
Bewick said he hoped the awards would help to inspire other EPAOs who didn’t enter this year, to submit an application next year.
The full list of winners are:
· Multi standards EPAO of the year (SME) – sponsored by Skilltech Solutions: Professional Assessment Ltd.
· Multi standards EPAO of the year (50 + on payroll) – sponsored by GradeMaker: Innovate Awarding
· Specialist sector based EPAO of the year – sponsored by PSI: FDQ
· Best collaboration to deliver EPA Services – sponsored by Advanced Secure Technologies: NCFE