I wake up early as I have a EPA planned with an employer 150 miles away and I am catching the train. This day really began 2 weeks ago when my EPA organisation emailed the apprentice and employer details and I contacted them to arrange the time and location of the EPA. Once this was confirmed I was given access to the apprentice’s showcase (written evidence) which I assessed and marked before the date of the visit. The apprentice had included additional evidence for the distinction grade. This took me about 2 hours. When I first started it took much longer but now, I know my standard inside out and I am much quicker.
From the showcase I felt the apprentice was likely to be successful. Their evidence met most of the standards it was supposed to cover with the showcase and the two I felt were not covered sufficiently (they had not included sufficient examples) I was going to question them about during the visit. The night before I always check I have everything I need and my laptop and recording equipment is working. I had planned my questions already, so I was good to go.
I also bought my ticket in advance as the machines are not always working in the mornings and I think sometimes getting to the location is the most stressful part! On the way I just read or watch something on my phone. Once I arrived London I got on the tube and it was easy to find the location. I always think how apprehensive the apprentice will be and I never want to be late in case they panic. Once I was early and that also threw them so now, I make sure I get there 5 minutes before and no earlier!
The apprentice met me with their employer, and we chatted a little and just confirmed the arrangement for the day and the room I would be based in. I also checked and confirmed the apprentice’s ID. They are always nervous, and I try to put them at ease as much as I can.
We had agreed beforehand we would start with the observation. The apprentice is completing the Customer Service Level 2 standard and works on a busy reception desk. The observation cannot be recorded so the pressure is on to make sure I record the evidence accurately and fully as this is the only record of the assessment, so if I miss anything the IQA could overturn my judgement. I usually warn the apprentice that I may seem to be writing not always watching but I am always focused on gathering the evidence.
The observation goes well, they have great communication skills and a lovely telephone manner. This is a possible distinction candidate! Following the observation, I can ask some questions for specific standards that I was not able to observe. This is recorded and I must make sure I always follow the EPAO procedure about recording including confirming who I am, who the candidate is and the time it started and ended. I also record the answers on the assessment paperwork.
The apprentice seems a little nervous but gives me good answers and I think has been well prepared for this. I also use this time to ask the additional questions based on the showcase and they give me some detailed examples to add the earlier evidence. I have planned a short time for reflection at this point. I want to get everything written up and give myself and the apprentice a comfort break.
The final part in the professional discussion. My EPAO gives me standardised questions to ask the apprentice so I must make sure I ask them all and complete the professional discussion in the time allowed. You can’t go over the time or the additional answers won’t be counted. Again, I record this as well as summarising the answers.
Once this is completed, I have finished the EPA and I usually ask to see the employer again to thank them for their hospitality and tell them when they can expect the result. Sometimes that ask how it went but I just tell them they will get the result in the next 5 working days. I have been there about 3 hours. Occasionally I do two EPA in one day in the same location. I get paid per apprentice.
Then my next job is to make sure everything is written up properly and I haven’t missed anything. I listen to my recordings on the way home to check I have included all the evidence and spell check and tidy my notes and observation record. The advantage of the train home is I can do this on my way back rather than when I get home. This apprentice has done well, and I am pleased for them and their employer that they have achieved a distinction.
Finally, I get home and upload all my recordings, assessment materials and notes ready of IQA – and my job is done!
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