September Newsletter

Hello and Welcome,  

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

  • General Update
  • EPA Update
  • Qualification of the Month
  • Upcoming FREE Webinar training events
  • The Apprenticeship Conference
  • Reminder about the Covid-19 Adaptations for EPA
  • CASS Update
  • Questionmark – OAL’s Online Testing Platform

Welcome back to school, college, university, back from holiday or maybe a first return to the office I a long time but more importantly welcome to the September edition of the OAL Newsletter. September is always a busy time in the FE sector and with the continued spectre of Covid-19 hovering around making things even more complicated you will be happy to know we are keeping things short, sweet and simple this month. 

In this month’s newsletter we will look at some new standards that OAL have been approved as EPAO for, continue with our regular feature, Qualification of the Month, look at what OAL webinars are on the horizon over the coming months, celebrate the world opening up and announce OAL’s attendance at the October Apprenticeships Conference as well as provide a reminder about the COvid-19 Adaptations for EPA coming to a close as well as provide an update on Cass. 

EPA Update

OAL are proud to announce that we have now been approved as EPAO for two new standards:

Food & Drink Engineer (Level 5) – STO624

This Apprenticeship has a typical duration of 36 months (excluding EPA) and has a maximum funding band of £18,000. OAL are currently the only EPAO approved for this standard and we will keep you informed as resources are developed and the product is launched on OAL Live.

Quality Practitioner (Level 4) – STO853

This Apprenticeship has a typical duration of 14 months (excluding EPA) and has a maximum funding band of £6,000. We will keep you informed as resources are developed and the product is launched on OAL Live.

Updates to Existing Standards

New versions of the Food & Drink Process Operator, Food and Drink Advanced Process Operator (which will be changing to Food & Drink Technical Operator) are now live so any new starts would need to be registered with the ESFA/IfATE on the new versions of those standards. We will shortly update OAL Live so that you can register apprentices against both the old and new versions of the standards and the products will be clearly marked so you can identify which is which.

We continue to work closely with the NSAFD, IfATE, the food and drink sector and other EPAOs on the development of the new version of the Food & Drink Maintenance Engineer standard and will look to launch a new supporting qualification once the standard and the assessment plan have been finalised.

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

Qualification of the Month

Last month we focussed on the OAL Level 3 Award in Assessing Vocational Achievement  and the OAL Level 4 Award in Grading & Moderation of Vocational Achievement. This month we will be looking at OAL Level 1 Diploma in Furniture Occupations.

The OAL Level 1 Diploma in Furniture Occupations  is listed on LARS (reference:
60173361). This qualifications is and introduction to the furniture industry and is designed to be delivered at a college or training provider with a total of 462 guided learning hours.  The OAL Level 1 Diploma in Furniture Occupations has been designed to provide a route into the furniture industry and provides the skills, knowledge and experience that employers are looking for and can be an excellent progression route into an apprenticeship in the furniture industry.  It is constructed from a mixture of mandatory an optional units which provides flexible delivery and assessment to meet the needs of your learners and the future needs of the employers you work with.

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


OAL Live Training – to attend contact

  • Tuesday 19th October 10am-11am – Qualifications 
  • Thursday 21st October 3pm-4pm – EPA
  • Tuesday 9th November 10am-11am – EPA
  • Thursday 11th November 3pm-4pm – Qualifications

CASS Training – to attend contact

  • Wednesday 10th November 10am-11am
  • Tuesday 16th November 3:30pm-4:30pm
The Apprenticeships Conference 2021

OAL are proud to announce that we will be hosting a stand and are Brochure Sponsors for the Apprenticeships 4 England 2021 Apprenticeships Conference at Millennium Point in Birmingham on the 19th October. If you are attending please take time to visit our stand and have a chat with Lee, Phil & Zach. The boys are excited to actually see real people in real life and if you are lucky you might get a pen or even a notepad (old school ring-bound A5 not a laptop!) out of it.

Hopefully see you there.

Covid-19 Adaptations to Continue to the End of 2021 

Temporary discretions that apply to specific apprenticeships have now all been given notice that the adaptations 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 ask for the temporary flexibilities to be 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 already have a number of submissions from the Food & Drink Sector in relation to this which we will be passing to Ofqual and IfATE in the next few weeks. If you want your voice to be added to this then please contact and act swiftly!

Wider relaxations, that 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 attempt the 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.


Just a reminder for our centres that deliver qualifications that we will be moving to the new Ofqual arrangements for Centre Monitoring known as CASS – Centre Assessment Standards Scrutiny. This will lead to monitoring in the future being based on the qualifications you deliver and whether they have been risk rated as high, medium & low.  A new centre monitoring strategy will be made available to you shortly, and we will run 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. Please see the webinar dates above and on the events calendar on the OAL Website contact to attend.

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)