All week I’ve be sharing key insights from my experience of leading EPA at NCFE. Through sharing these insights with our current and future customers, we hope to play our role in enhancing of the value and integrity of Apprenticeships - something that we care about very much.
4. Breakfast of champions
‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions’ is a quote attributed to leadership and management expert, Ken Blanchard. Just as breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, EPA feedback is quickly becoming an extremely important ingredient in the recipe for cooking up high quality apprenticeship programmes.
EPA has become the day to day ‘acid test’ of whether the teaching, learning and development of an apprentice undertaking an apprenticeship has met the expected standard. Unlike the infrequent visits of Ofsted, External Quality Assurance or Internal Quality Assurance functions that have a natural bias, EPA Organisations (EPAOs) stand at a new vantage point in the apprenticeship system. The independence of EPAOs, combined with continuous and direct engagement with apprentices, creates an opportunity to gain deep insight into what works.
Delivering reliable and valid assessments, and maintaining objectivity and impartiality, are core features of being an EPAO. Fairness, transparency and trust must reign, with no one apprentice (or employer, or training provider) placed at any advantage or disadvantage through the EPA process. Clearly there are lines that cannot be crossed. We cannot teach apprentices to ‘pass the test’, but we absolutely can translate EPA insights into intelligent and informative feedback. Feedback that we need to nourish Apprenticeship systems as a whole, and through this, improve outcomes for apprentices and business everywhere.
We really believe that as Apprenticeship Standards and EPA mature, feedback is going to become the breakfast of apprenticeship champions. Those who succeed in achieving their ambitions will understand why. Those who unfortunately do not, will have the insight needed to be better equipped next time around. Fundamentally, EPA is here to enhance the integrity and value of apprenticeships. Feedback is a key component of achieving this.