January Newsletter

Hello and Welcome to our January newsletter update.

In this newsletter we will be updating you on the following:

  • End Point Assessment and Qualifications Update
  • Webinar training and development sessions for EPA
  • The launch of our new on-line exam platform
  • Operational update
End Point Assessments and Qualifications Update

We continue to provide hundreds of End Point Assessment sessions during this difficult time.  At the heart of our continued work is the apprentice and the support we can provide to our customers and providers.  We have not furloughed any staff and continue to keep working during lockdown 3 to ensure you and your learners/apprentices continue to have the best service possible.

Today my team received a great piece of feedback which supports us in knowing we are doing the right thing.

“…OAL are a really professional EPAO supporting us excellently in delivering a really positive independent assessment for our learners. Lee and the whole team are a delight to work in partnership with…”  (Leanne Gagic, Corporate Services Director, Instep)

We are now approved for 31 standards.  We have recently been approved to deliver the following:
  • Customer Service Specialist Level 3
  • Hygiene Specialist Level 4
  • Retail Manager Level 4
  • Bid and Proposal Coordinator Level 3
  • Rehabilitation Worker – Visual Impairment which is linked to a new sector of development for us where we will also be providing Award size qualifications for Epilepsy etc.
We have a variety of support materials for your staff and your apprentices for all the standards we offer EPA for.  These are:
  • Handbooks
  • Guidance documents on assessment methods
  • Project resources
  • Portfolio mapping documents
  • Sample assessments
  • Sample exam papers
We have a variety of adaptations and flexibilities to support you and your apprentices to be able to continue with EPA during lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic.  These have been extended for use until, at least, the end of August 2021.  Just as a reminder the order of assessment is still also removed from assessment plans so assessment activity can be planned in any order to support apprentice achievement.

Please get in touch to discuss these with us if you are unsure if your apprentices can still complete their apprenticeship and our customer support team will guide and support you through the process.  Please email any query to customerservice@oawards.co.uk

We are running a series of support webinars on various standards and topics over the next few months.  These have been carefully designed from the analysis of the End Point Assessment for that sector/standard that we have carried out over the past year.  They will be really useful and helpful to your staff to engage with so that you can support your apprentices to understand the EPA process more and ensure they are fully prepared.

Certification for apprenticeships. – The ESFA has still got in place a flexibility for this.  If the apprentice certificates cannot be posted to your centre address or the address we currently have on file please let us know asap.  We can arrange for the certificate to be posted directly to the apprentice home address if you provide us with this whilst businesses are coping with the pandemic.
For qualifications we have in place guidance for using and implementing the ERF (Extraordinary Regulation Framework)

In October our Head of Quality and Compliance, Sue Knott, wrote to all centres who deliver our qualifications, to provide you with the latest guidance on the possibility of adapting assessment and testing methods to take account of the covid-19 situation, following the guidance provided by Ofqual.

In the following weeks we were contacted by numerous centres regarding the options available to adapt assessments.  We continue to review this with the extended lockdowns and we thought it would be useful to make sure you all aware of the process.  We have a form you need to complete to apply to us for a flexibility. 

This is available by emailing quality@oawards.co.uk

If you wish to apply for an adaptation to assist your learners in completing and achieving their OAL qualifications for the current academic year please complete the form, using a new box if you are requesting more than one adaptation, and then send it back with any supporting documents to quality@oawards.co.uk and the team will review your requests and let you know the outcome as soon as possible, usually within 10 working days of receipt.

Our EQA team will also be informed of the request and our approval.  The final part of the process is an EQA visit to verify any adaptations were carried out as described and approved.
Webinar training and development sessions for EPA

In February we are offering the following webinars:
“Achieving Successful Endpoint Assessment”
This webinar will be delivered by our Head of End Point Assessment Operations – Phil Clough.
The webinar will explore the key functions and processes of EPA.  It is designed to support providers with ensuring their apprentices have a successful EPA journey.  Phil will also be covering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about this process so your staff will be fully up to date.
Initially the Webinars are available on the following dates:
Feb- 18th and 25th Feb 10-12
March- 09th and 23rd March 10-12
April- 15th and 20th April 10-12
To book on the webinar please email p.clough@oawards.co.uk if you inform Phil which date and time you want to book on he will send an invite.
You’ll find a copy of our Events Calendar at the bottom of this news letter!
The launch of our new on-line exam platform

The platform will go live from the 1st of February for test bookings for the standards below.  We will be implementing a staggered launch with different standards added to the platform throughout the year.  Additional functionality will be added as the platform is established over the next few months.

The platform will go live with the following two standards:
  1. Business Administrator
  2. Trade Supplier
We will also be introducing Record and Review which is an AI based proctoring service but this will be later on in the launch.
What does this mean for you?
  • Secure, flexible exams available 7 days a week 24 hours a day
  • Quick simple and easy to deliver secure tests.
  • Quicker results
  • Easily adaptable for learners who require adaptations or special considerations
  • Detailed feedback on the areas passed and/or incorrectly answered
  • On-line proctoring/invigilation frees up staff time
You will continue to book EPA as you currently do and this will not require any additional information or support from you than is already required for remote assessments. Please ensure that we have the apprentice’s correct email address when you are booking their EPA.
We are providing guides for the apprentices, login and joining instructions will be emailed directly to the apprentice which will notify them of the time and date of the Knowledge Test which will be in line with the time and date that you have booked through the OAL EPA Live Portal.
General Business Update
Following one of our EPA day’s with Sainsbury’s Food College Edinburgh. The lamb used to assess the apprentices was donated to Edinburgh Refugee Kitchen.  The Lamb along with roast veggies, peas, carrots, broccoli and gravy, fed over 40 people!  At OAL we are committed to providing for the community as much as possible.
We continue to grow and develop despite the current lockdown and Covid-19 pandemic situation.  We have invested over the last few months on the on-line system for qualifications and End Point Assessment as well as our new on-line exam system.  We have re-built our website and introduced re-branding.  We will involve you in reviewing and feeding back on our service quality as part of our continuous improvement cycle.
  • Take a look at our updated website – it has lots of useful information that you can use in marketing our qualifications and apprenticeships.
One of our new ‘process maps’ detailing the journey an apprentice will take towards End-Point Assessment, we have one for each EPA we offer!
We are recruiting for the following roles:
If you know anyone who is looking for a role please pass this on to them.
  • Administrator in our Customer Service team
  • Product Development Officer for our qualifications and product team
We are also looking for End Point Assessors on an associate contractor basis for the following standards as our volumes are increasing significantly in these areas:
  • Food and Drink Maintenance Engineer (FDEM)
  • Process Leader
  • Quality Practitioner
  • Employability Practitioner
  • Lean Manufacturing Operative
We will be providing you with regular updates on the webinars and training and developments resources we are producing each month. 
We hope you are all keeping safe and well during this difficult time.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me or one of our team if you have any feedback, queries or concerns.
Jan Richardson-Wilde
Chief Executive Officer