HCPC Apprenticeships EPA update

3 March, 2021

During 2021/ 22 there will be some changes made to the end point assessment plans in use for the HCPC regulated occupations.

Below are some FAQs to help explain the changes to end-point assessment plans for the following occupations:

  • Arts Therapist (Degree)
  • Clinical Scientist
  • Diagnostic Radiographer (Degree)
  • Dietitian (Degree)
  • Healthcare Science Practitioner (Degree)
  • Occupational Therapist (Degree)
  • Operating Department Practitioner (Degree)
  • Physiotherapist (Degree)
  • Podiatrist (Degree)
  • Prosthetist and Orthotist (Degree)
  • Speech and Language Therapist (Degree)
  • Therapeutic Radiographer (Degree)

1 – Why the change?

In October 2020 the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education announced that it is simplifying how end-point assessment (EPA) is carried out for regulated occupations. The change makes use of robust assessment where it already exists and ensures that the EPA is best serving employers and apprentices, as well as protecting public funds. You can read the full announcement here.

2 – Does the HCPC know about this?

Yes HCPC have been given the opportunity to discuss the changes with IFATE and have given their feedback upon the template used for the new EPA.

3 – How will the changes be made?

Skills for Health and IFATE will work with the reinstated trailblazer groups to develop the new EPAs and submit the relevant costing documents. These will then go through the usual IFATE submission processes before approval.

Skills for Health or IFATE will be in touch with Trailblazer chairs and group members when the work is due to commence and updates on progress will be shared via the HASO newsletter.

There are lots of EPAs to get through so it will be a scaled approach that extends across the year.

4 – Does my professional body know about this?

Most professional bodies are members on the individual Trailblazer groups and so will be notified along with colleagues about the changes in due course. If you wish to also share this news item with them, please do.

5 – Why does the EPA look so different?

The new ‘fully aligned’ EPA is designed to align wherever possible to what is already in place for other students. This means that there will be no additional assessment burden on apprentices.

In most instances, the EPA is already integrated within the HCPC approved degree programme, as a final credit-bearing module. In future, there will not be a separate EPA module.

The EPA will start with the examination board and finish when the HEI makes the required declaration to the HCPC. The apprentice will not be required to carry out any additional assessments. See the paramedic EPA plan as an example.

A few HCPC regulated occupations do not currently have an integrated end point assessment and the solution above may not fit so easily. Each standard will be looked at individually to make certain that the assessment burden on the apprentice is managed as effectively as possible.

6 – Do HEIs have to register as EPAOs?

Yes. The HEI must register both as apprenticeship training provider here and as an apprenticeship end point assessment organisation here.

The Independent Assessor at the exam board must meet the EPAO requirements for independence and occupation competence.

7 – Will existing apprentices do the old or the new EPA?

The intention is to move to a fully aligned EPA as quickly as possible. HEIs will need to consider what stage apprentices are at within their programme. Some may have to complete using the existing EPA if there is not time to put the new EPA in place. However, for many existing apprentices the HEI will be able to introduce the new EPA once it is published.

If, for any reason, an apprentice needs to transfer from one standard to a new one, the ESFA do allow transfers from one learning aim to another ie from one standard to another. Further information can be found in the Provider Support Manual paragraph 435 to 437.

If you have any questions about funding and transfer, please contact ESFA directly.

8 – What happens to the credits?

The credits assigned to the EPA will be put back into the main body of the programme. This change will need to be agreed with the HCPC in the usual way.

9 – Will it change the funding band?

The new EPA is likely to lead to a change in funding bands for many occupations as there will be a change to the costs associated with the EPA

A new quote for the EPAs is submitted along with the new EPA plan. Some trailblazers are also taking the opportunity to submit full provider quotes rather than just the for the EPA. Whichever option the Trailblazer decides on Skills for Health and IFATE will support the HEI’s with this process.

10 – Do I need to notify HCPC?

Yes, HEIs should please get in touch with HCPC directly to find out any steps they need to take to alter their programmes appropriately.

11 – Are the apprenticeship standards being updated too?

This current work is focussed on amending the end-point assessments plans. The HCPC consulted on changes to its Standards of Proficiency in 2020.  Once the consultation outcomes are published it may be necessary to update the apprenticeship standards to meet any new requirements. Trailblazer groups will be convened as necessary to carry out this work.