August Newsletter

Hello and Welcome, 
 In this newsletter, we will be updating you on the following:

  • General Update
  • Covid-19 Adaptations for EPA
  • EPA Emergency Contacts
  • QuestionMark – OAL’s Online Testing Platform
  • Case  Studies
  • Annual Customer Feedback Survey
  • EPA & Qualifications Update
  • Qualification of the Month
  • OAL Online (EPA & Qualifications Portal) Update
  • Upcoming FREE Webinar training events

General Update

Welcome to the August edition of the OAL Newsletter. As this is an electronic publication you may be reading it on a sunbed or on a veranda overlooking the Med. Alternatively, if you are in your office or working from home you are in for another enthralling and information packed read!

In this month’s newsletter we will look at the latest update on the Covid-19 Adaptations to apprenticeships and EPA, re-introduce QuestionMark the OAL Online Testing Platform, shine a light on some of the good news stories and case studies published on our website, invite you to contribute to our customer survey.  We will also update you on what the Product Development Team have been up to, have our regular look at the qualification of the month and update you on the free  webinars and training events that we will host throughout July and August that are exclusive to OAL customers.

Covid-19 Adaptations to Continue to the End of 2021

We have now been notified by IfATE that the flexibilities/adaptations and temporary discretions that apply to specific apprenticeships will cease on the 31st December 2021.

However, where there remain exceptional challenges to apprentices being able to complete their End Point Assessment, it will be possible to request that the temporary flexibilities are retained. Any request for the adaptations to remain in place beyond the end of 2021 must be submitted to IfATE before the 1st of October 2021. The Institute will be prepared to take a sectoral approach to retaining adaptations if they can be justified.  We are currently reviewing this with our customers and will make applications where required.

The wider relaxations, which are not standard specific and are universal to all apprenticeships, will be retained beyond 2021 where they have been shown to add value.

The Institute has identified 7 flexibilities that will remain in place and these are:

  • assessment gateway sign off being done remotely;
  • pauses being allowed between elements of end point assessments;
  • assessment element delivery being in any order;
  • simulated environments being used instead of observation in workplaces;
  • remote delivery of assessment (including invigilation);
  • assessments taking place outside of usual venues;
  • assessment exams being online instead of on paper.

The Institute will publish full guidance to explain exactly how the seven flexibilities above should be applied from 2022 later this summer.

Functional Skills

The Department for Education has agreed to continue the flexibility waiving the requirement for level 2 apprentices to take level 2 functional skills tests. This was communicated to the sector via an update on 31 June and is in the new 21/22 funding rules.

EPA Emergency Contacts – Important!

It is very important that the OAL EPA Team are able to contact a designated member of your staff, should the need arise, on the day of an apprentice’s EPA. If there is an issue with EPA, such as, Assessor illness or more commonly, the assessor is unable to contact the apprentice or their employer, it is imperative that we can make contact with you quickly; this is often first thing in the morning. 

In this regard, we request that you designate two members of staff, who can be available in emergency situations and send their name, email address and mobile number to for this purpose.

QuestionMark – The OAL Online Testing Platform

If your apprentice has a Knowledge Test that can be taken on our examination platform, QuestionMark, please ensure you and they are aware of the steps they need to take. In brief these are:

  • Provide the Apprentice Guide for them to read
  • Read the Centre Guide
  • Ensure they whitelist the email address
  • Ensure the Employer doesn’t block this email address
  • Ensure the apprentice clicks on the email on receipt (around 24 hours after Gateway is confirmed) to set up their password
  • Email if the apprentice has not had their welcome email 48 hours after Gateway confirmation

 The following Standards are Now Live on QuestionMark

  • Business Admin  (Feb 21)
  • Trade Supplier (Feb 21)
  • Bakery (Feb 21)
  • Improvement Technician (March 21)
  • Improvement Practitioner (March 21)
  • Food and Drink Process Operator (March 21)
  • Food and Drink Advanced Process Operator (March 21)
  • Food Technologist (March 21)
  • FDEM (June 21)
  • Retailer (June 2021)
  • Supply Chain Practitioner (June 2021)

Case Studies

For those of you who are regular visitors to the OAL website you may have noticed the increasing number of case studies and good news stories appearing both in our News & Events section and also on our LinkedIn page. For those of you who have not had the chance to look, links to a few of our recent case studies can be found below.
We are always looking for more case studies and good news stories so if you would like to work with OAL on creating a case study to sing the praises of your apprentices/students and your apprenticeship/study programmes then please contact

Take a look at some our recent case studies via the links below. 

LAST CHANCE! Annual Customer Feedback Survey

Wednesday 18th August will be your last chance to contribute to the OAL Annual Customer Feedback Survey. So you only have a few days left to tell us how awesome we are to point us in the right direction if you think there are some things we could do even better.

There are only 10 questions to answer so it will only take you a few minutes to complete and it gives you the opportunity to share your opinions with us and inform how we move forward with our products and services. 

We had an excellent response to our annual survey last year and we are really looking forward to seeing what progress we have made in what has been an extremely unusual and challenging year.

You can find the link to the survey here:
Please complete before 5pm Wednesday 18th August 2021; your support with this is appreciated, as always.

EPA & Qualifications Update

Updated/New Standards

OAL have been participating in consultations with the NSAFD and the Trailblazer Groups developing new versions of the Food & Drink Process Operator, Food and Drink Advanced Process Operator (which will be changing to Food & Drink Technical Operator) as well as the new version of the Food & Drink Maintenance Engineer standard.

New versions of all of these standards are expected to be approved soon. OAL will be there to support you with the transition to the new versions of their assessment plans and provide updated resources and supporting qualifications where required.

Keep your eye on our website and this section of future newsletters to find out the latest developments on the above.


For our centres that deliver qualifications, Ofqual are introducing new arrangements for centre monitoring and quality assurance from September 2021 (known as CASS – Centre Assessment Standards Scrutiny). 

A new centre External Quality Assurance monitoring strategy will be introduced in September.  This will lead to monitoring in the future being risk based on the qualifications you deliver and whether they have been risk rated as high, medium or low.  

We will be running a webinar for interested centres to find out more about our future External Quality Assurance process and visit arrangements and the changes to our approach in order to continue meeting Ofqual requirements. Keep your eye on the OAL website and events calendar for Webinar dates! (insert event calendar link)

Qualification of the Month

Last month we focussed on the OAL Level 5 Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety Practice. This month we will be looking at two qualifications from our Learning & Development Suite Learning & Development Suite; the OAL Level 3 Award in Assessing Vocational Achievement  and the OAL Level 4 Award in Grading & Moderation of Vocational Achievement.

The OAL Level 3 Award in Assessing Vocational Achievement  is listed on LARS (reference: 60310716) and is designed to develop and assess the competent performance of those involved in the assessment of vocational achievement, so they have the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to work effectively in their role. This qualification is designed for Assessors who are involved in the assessment of either workplace competence or related vocational achievement.

The OAL Level 4 Award in Grading & Moderation of Vocational Achievement  is listed on LARS (reference: 60310595) and is designed to develop and assess the competent performance of those involved in the grading and moderation of vocational assessment, so they have the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to work effectively in their role. On achievement of the qualification, practitioners will have developed the competence to perform consistently and reliably, to meet the regulatory requirements of valid grading and moderation of vocational assessment. Those wishing to lead moderation activities also have the option to qualify in leading the moderation of graded assessment.

For more information on these qualifications click on the links above or apply for qualification approval through OAL Online.

OAL Online Update

Forms, Documents and Products Update

OAL continues to invest in the development of our online qualifications and EPA Portal, OAL Live. User will now see a different interface when searching for Forms, Products and Documents. Rather than seeing an alphabetised list you will now see a search box where you can type in what you are looking for and like magic, it will appear.

We will be offering new training and refresher sessions for all aspects of the portal in the autumn.

EPA and Qualifications Booking Forms

We have now removed the need to click “work on this section” before you can make changes to a booking form. This removes an unnecessary step in the process and should sped up and simplify you user experience.


We would like to re-iterate the importance of keeping Start Dates and End Dates as accurate as possible on the booking forms. OAL use this information for capacity planning and to anticipate assessment peaks for specific standards, which enables us to give you the quick turnaround you want from Gateway Submission to EPA Booking.
We provide a flexible booking service for EPA and do not require you to book two to three months in advance.  The only way we can do this effectively is by having good up to date information from you of when your apprentices are likely to finish their apprenticeship.

You can change the expected end date as often as you like on the form and it is easy and simple to do.  We do not share this information with any other organisation we just use it to plan our capacity so we can provide you with EPA services when you need it – Please refer to our guidance and videos if you are unsure of how to ensure your apprentice information is up to date.

Free Support Webinars

August has already seen OAL deliver webinars on the Retailer standards and the Improvement standards, our next set of Webinars are:

September 15th, 10-11am and 2.30-3.30pm: Lean Manufacturing Operative EPA Webinar. Training session for all those involved in preparing apprentices for EPA for the LMO standard – contact to book.

September 21st: Achieving Successful EPA: Head off EPA Operations Phil Clough gives his hints and tips for achieving a successful EPA outcome – contact to book.

Coming soon – EPA Live Training – autumn 2021
Coming soon – CASS Training – autumn 2021

Past Newsletters

You can now find copies of our monthly newsletter via the OAL website. In each monthly issue we have covered useful and important information for the companies we work with to call upon at any time, all available at the click of a button.