Your apprentices are progressing well in their roles; moving forward with their learning, developing the behaviours you value, and your regular reviews show that they are performing well in the workplace. End-point assessment is approaching and there sits another new concept to get to grips with, the gateway. In this article we are going to look at what the ‘gateway’ means and how employers can increase their confidence in making gateway decisions that end in successes for all.
A note on independence in end-point assessment.
End-point assessment relies on an independent assessor being able to make a judgement about your apprentice’s knowledge, skills and behaviours. This might be in a very short time, typically one or two days using the two or three assessments prescribed by the apprenticeship end-point assessment plan. Unlike you, the independent assessor must be someone without any existing relationship with the apprentice, not having previously taught, assessed, worked with, mentored or managed them. The independent assessor will know very little about the apprentice and will make a judgement on their competence based solely on their performance during the prescribed assessments.
What is the gateway?
The end-point assessment plan will provide some help here, setting out what are referred to as the gateway requirements. At its simplest, the gateway will be presented as a set of criteria that must be met before the apprentice can progress to attempt the end-point assessment. As the employer you will build a relationship with the apprentice and the training provider over an extended period of time which will be key to you making a confident decision at the gateway.
The gateway will typically look something like the bulleted list below, although you need to refer to individual assessment plans as these will provide the specific detail according to the apprenticeship requirements:
- English and maths at level 2 or above
- Completion of a mandated qualification
- Completion of a portfolio or other evidence source used to underpin one of the end-point assessment methods
- Confirmation that the apprentice is consistently working at or above the level of the occupational standard
When presented like this it might be considered as a checklist. But the decision is unlikely to be so straightforward when what follows is a high-stakes assessment.
Like all apprenticeships in England, the employer is responsible for making the gateway decision, although they may take advice from the training provider and confirm with the apprentice themselves. As the employer, you will want to ensure that you are only sending apprentices forward for end-point assessment when they are ready and highly likely to be successful.
How do you make a confident decision at the gateway when ticking off against a simple checklist is unlikely to give you sufficient confidence?
Let’s return right back to the beginning.
Your apprentices are progressing well; moving forward with their learning, developing the behaviours you value, and your regular reviews show that they are performing well in the workplace. The training provider is reporting that they are passing all the on-programme assessments and preparations for the end-point assessment are underway.
Use all the evidence available to you.
Firstly, count off the checklist where the decision is binary, for example:
✔ The apprentice has certificated evidence of their English and maths
✔ The apprentice has certificated evidence of achievement of a mandated qualification set out in the apprenticeship standard
✔ The apprentice has completed any minimum supervised hours where these are specified in the apprenticeship standard
✔ The apprentice has collated evidence to underpin one of the end-point assessment methods where this is specified in the end-point assessment plan. In some instances, this is a portfolio of evidence mapped to the apprenticeship standard
But otherwise, the decision that the apprentice meets the gateway requirements and is ready to attempt end-point assessment will require you as the employer to make a more complex judgement of readiness. You will want to triangulate your evidence from multiple sources to increase your confidence (which further exposes how important it is to select the right training provider and build strong relationships with them and the End Point Assessment Organisation from the outset).
Here are some things you may wish to consider when forming your gateway judgement
- Performance in the workplace on the job:
- You have been working closely with this apprentice for an extended period of time, observing them, gathering feedback from their peers, mentors and patients/clients.
- You have been documenting their progress in the workplace throughout the apprenticeship.
- They have been applying their learning in the workplace incrementally with a diminishing requirement for support and supervision.
- You have seen the apprentice grow in confidence and they are consistently showing the behaviours you expect.
- You feel confident that, if a job vacancy was available, your organisation would employ this apprentice in a substantive post.
- Performance away from the workplace off the job:
- You have been having regular meetings with the training provider to agree objectives and have put in place a structured learning programme.
- The training provider is able to provide you with documentary evidence of the apprentice’s progress, including the results of formative assessments.
- You have been working with the training provider to provide the apprentice with opportunities to undertake practice assessments, using the resources and guidance provided by the End Point Assessment Organisation
- The apprentice is now consistently successful In demonstrating they can meet the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours against the assessment methods as set out in the end Point Assessment Plan.
- The training provider agrees that the apprentice is ready for end-point assessment.
- Apprentice preparations
- The apprentice understands the end-point assessments they will face and is involved in making arrangements for the day(s) as appropriate
- The apprentice agrees that they are ready for end-point assessment.
These pointers can support you in making informed decisions at the gateway and undoubtedly, your confidence will grow with practice and time.