An End Point Assessment (EPA) is the final step in the apprenticeship journey for employers and apprentices. The assessment allows apprentices to demonstrate that they've developed all the competencies (skills), knowledge and behaviours outlined in the Standard to prove they're able to do the job they've been training for throughout their programme.
EPAs are delivered by independent End Point Assessment providers. The British Computer Society (BCS) is the organisation that assesses all Firebrand apprentices - it's the Chartered Institute for IT and is the professional body for the digital industries. All successful apprentices appear on the BCS Professional Register for IT Technicians (RITTech) free of charge, and are entitled to use the RITTech letters after their name.
RITTech is recognised by employers and recruiters, demonstrating a higher level of skills and professionalism across digital and technology industries. With 'RITTech' after their name, it proves individuals are competent at what they do (RITTech is only awarded to people working at a SFIA Level 3 or above standard) and it shows they care enough to apply to be on this register.
RITTech status demonstrates quality and professionalism for the individual, who they work for and to their customers. Employees with RITTech have proven they care about what they do, and the people who employ them will care as well. Some organisations even use attainment of RITTech as part of their professional development measures.
Source: British Computer Society
All End Point Assessments for Firebrand's apprenticeship programmes are developed from Assessment Plans developed by the Tech Partnership and the Trailblazer groups for each Standard. Assessment Plans set out the main requirements for the final evaluation, and the methods that should be used.
Assessments take place in the final few months of the apprenticeship and include four assessment methods:
Summative portfolio: examples and evidence of an apprentice's best work that demonstrate their knowledge, competencies and behaviours within a real working environment against the Standard
Employer reference: employers are required to write unique references for their apprentices. They should demonstrate how they've applied the knowledge, competencies and behaviours in the projects they've been given at work. Firebrand will work with employers with guidance and a template to help them complete this throughout the apprenticeship programme
Synoptic project: apprentices are expected to complete work-related projects over 3-5 days, away from their normal work environment. All work-based projects submitted from the apprentice will be provided back to the employer, apprentice and Firebrand by the BCS for us to select the preferred project to submit
Interview: The BCS will arrange an independent review of apprentices' best portfolios of work, their projects and employer references. A highly skilled BCS assessor then conducts a two-hour recorded interview (usually carried out remotely via video-call) with the apprentice. This will be to clarify any questions that the assessor has from the initial assessment of the portfolio, project and employer reference
As an employer you have a responsibility to discuss with your apprentice and Firebrand (through your Learning Mentor) to 'sign off' your apprentice as ready for their EPA. This process is called the Gateway to End Point Assessment.
The knowledge needed to pass an EPA isn't learned through Firebrand's accelerated training alone. For example, apprentices may learn about networking while attending their CompTIA Network+ training with Firebrand, however they'll need to explain how they've put those skills into practice at work and be able to explain them confidently throughout their assessment.
Grades are given to apprentices to differentiate those who have met and exceeded the expected level of quality. This should motivate apprentices to reach for the top grade and also allow employers to spot star performers at work.
Apprentices can achieve the following grades:
Firebrand Learning Mentors will work closely with employers and apprentices throughout the apprenticeship programme to make sure apprentices are progressing, to give them the best chance of succeeding. Apprentices shouldn't be worried or concerned about the assessment catching them out or tripping them up - each EPA is unique to the individual based on their role, the Standard and the projects they've completed.
If an apprentice doesn't pass their End Point Assessment, Firebrand will receive a feedback report from the BCS identifying the areas of improvement and development. We'll then work with you and your apprentice to gather and provide more evidence to resubmit to the Gateway at an extra cost.
The cost of the End Point Assessment is included in the full cost of the apprenticeship with Firebrand. For example, if the apprenticeship costs £18,000, the EPA is included within this cost.
Non-Levy-paying employers pay one third of the EPA costs to Firebrand directly, and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) pays two thirds. Levy-paying employers pay for the EPA through their Levy funds directly to Firebrand through their Digital Service account.