General

  1. Is EAL still operating normal business services?

Yes, significant investment has been made 12 months ago in our technology and infrastructure and we have been able to transition all of our workforce into home working during this period and therefore we are still able to operate and deliver our services using technology.  We’re following government advice closely and will be acting in accordance with it.

  1. How can EAL help centres to support their learners with their ongoing learning? 

If you have learners learning remotely then our award-winning Engineering Talent platform -https://www.engineeringtalent.org.uk/ provides an outstanding resource for you with learning materials validated by our subject matter experts.  Our Customer Experience Team are on hand to support you should you need any help in accessing Engineering Talent or wish to have a remote demo. They can be contacted on customer.experience@eal.org.uk or +44 (0)1923 652400.

  1. Should I notify EAL if my centre is closing?

Yes, you should notify EAL if your centre is temporarily closing, please contact our Customer Experience team in writing at customer.experience@eal.org.uk with the following:

  • Confirm your decision to close your centre including the date of closure.

  • Confirm details of booked assessments, time and venues for suspension of booking.

  • When appropriate, inform EAL of your continuation of assessments.

You should also inform us if the Centre contact details are different from the ones stored within Smarter Touch or alternatively you can update these on your centre profile in https://www.ealsmartertouch.com/

  1. How will invoicing be managed?

Invoices will still be generated in the same manner and emailed to your nominated contact in Smarter Touch. e-Invoices are also available to download via your Centre Coordinators Online Services account. 

EAL Centres – Regulated Qualifications Questions

  1. Will my EQA still support our direct claims status lapsing or certification?

Our External Quality Assurance (EQA) team will still be supporting centres as planned, however, face to face visits have been postponed until further notice based on government advice. Each centre will be risk-assessed to determine the requirement for EQA remote sampling. The EQA Team are using the technology available to them to conduct visits remotely.  Where a centre does not have direct claim status and learners are ready to claim their certificates your EQA will discuss with you to determine if the claims can be validated remotely or whether a visit to site will be needed once government restrictions have been removed.  We will, at all times, consider the impact on learners when making our decision.   

  1. Are online examinations still running?  Will there be any disruption?

The majority of EAL examinations are on-demand and not timetabled. As a result, our customers will still be able to schedule and run examinations for learners as normal. You may wish to reschedule your examinations to fit in with your own delivery arrangements and we will consider and remain as flexible as possible. In addition, EAL’s examination system does permit sittings to be undertaken in various settings in line with our procedures - ‘Instructions for Conducting Examinations within EAL Qualifications’.  

  1. Can online examinations be taken at alternative location?

Yes – this is still possible. Where a centre conducts online external assessments they are responsible for ensuring that the awarding organisation requirements are met for downloading software and examination materials. You must also ensure that all technical requirements have been met. Some technical requirements will need to be met in advance of the examination.  It is the centre’s responsibility to ensure that external assessments are conducted in line with public health guidance issued by the Government. 

  1. Will the certification end date for Functional Skills qualifications be extended?

No - Ofqual has advised that there is no intention to extend the certification end date for legacy Functional Skills past the 31 July 2021 deadline. 

 

  1. Will FSQs be permitted to go ahead where they can be delivered in line with public health measures, including remotely?

Yes – the government policy decision means that wherever possible, learners should take an assessment, and alternative arrangements should only be considered for those who cannot access one. This solution will support many learners to progress to the next stage of their studies. It will also ensure that apprentices can progress through their apprenticeship towards their end point assessment and future employment opportunities. Where learners are ready to take FSQ assessments, but it is not possible to access an assessment in person on public health grounds, or remotely, they can receive a result under the alternative arrangements.

  1. Will EAL be offering paper-based exams?

No, not at this time.  We are keeping under review the option to provide paper-based exams to protect both our own staff, centre staff and learners.  Centres may contact our Exams Team at exams@eal.org.uk to discuss exceptional circumstances where there may be an opportunity to provide this service and for further advice and guidance on using online exams. 

  1. I don’t have access to register learners, certificate or schedule exams, what do I do?

Contact our Customer Experience team in the first instance for direct support at customer.experience@eal.org.ukor +44 (0)1923 652400. They will help with registering learners and direct your enquiry where appropriate to schedule exams. 

  1. My learner has been impacted and is at a disadvantage due to the outbreak. Can any consideration for this be made? 

Centres should consider the option for submitting a request for a special consideration for the learner, please refer to our ‘Special Consideration’ policy. Please add as much detail as possible and ensure supporting evidence is provided.

  1. Can Centres use witness testimonies to support a learner’s practical competence?

Suitable methods of assessment should be used when assessing learners. Expert witness testimonies can be used to support competence-based outcomes.

  1. Can I still register and certificate my learners on EAL’s online services?

Yes, EAL’s online services are not affected in any way so you can continue to register and certificate your learners as normal.

  1. Are EAL still able to despatch learner certificates?

No, unfortunately due to restrictions on travel and social distancing, our team are currently unable to despatch hard copies of certificates to centres. Whilst we are not able to send out hard copy certificates, there is the facility for you to use the e-certificate function in your Online Services account. E-certificates are an alternative solution for centres to provide confirmation of learner qualification achievement and comply with the regulatory requirements.

  1. Are EAL still able to despatch learner assessment materials (publications)?

 Yes, our supplier is still able to fulfil learner assessment materials orders you process online. Please ensure however that if you are ordering printed assessment material there will be personnel available at your Centre to take receipt of these deliveries. Please be advised that we will raise an invoice for any additional courier or warehouse charges that EAL may incur as a result of any printed assessment material that we are unable to deliver that has to be returned into our warehouse. You may experience printing and delivery delays beyond our control if there are any national or local rules or restrictions that may affect these services. We will continue to review the situation and operate in line with Government guidelines and will keep you updated on any changes via our website. 

 We would like to take this opportunity to thank all customers for your continued patience during this time. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly Customer Experience Team: Customer.Experience@eal.org.uk or 01923 652400.  

  1. Can we get learner certificates sent to centre staff home addresses instead?

No, unfortunately not due to data protection restrictions. In addition, EAL, does not hold personal contact details of centre staff and learners, nor have their permission to contact learners directly.

  1. What happens if I am an overseas EAL Centre?

Our team will continue to work with and support all International Centres and Partners. Although business travel has been suspended, we will use video conferencing and technology to maintain dialogue.

  1. Can I still get a replacement certificate/candidate record search? 

Yes.  You can contact our Customer Experience Team (customer.experience@eal.org.uk) who will be able to help.  Our team can process most record searches but only validate certificates at this time.  You can contact your training provider/college who will be able to provide you with an e-certificate.

  1. Will ‘Online Proctoring Software’ be made available for onscreen examinations?

EAL are currently exploring this as an option to support centres. Until further information is provided, please note that onscreen/paper-based examinations will need to be invigilated in person in accordance with EAL’s EAF1 - Instructions for Conducting Examinations within EAL Qualifications

  1. Can onscreen examinations be invigilated and administered by the learner’s employers?

Yes, however, certain control measures will need to be put in place to ensure the validity of the examination. Centres will be expected to provide an appropriate level of training to the employer and to document that the training has occurred. Guidance and training materials will be available in Smarter Touch shortly - External Assessment Contingency Guidance and Examination Invigilation Guidance.

End-Point Assessment (EPA) Questions

  1. Are EAL still delivering EPA services?

Yes, we remain operational, all of our workforce is home working during this period and therefore we are still able to operate and deliver our services using technology. Although EAL has currently postponed all face-to-face EPA visits based on government advice, we have agreements in place with our External Quality Assurance (EQA) Providers / IfATE which has allowed many flexibilities to be put in place so EPAs can still go ahead. 

  1. Can I still register my apprentice for EPA?

Yes, registrations can continue to be made on all standards. 

  1. Can I still progress my apprentice to the Gateway stage?

Yes, EAL will continue to process gateway activity in line with current standard processes. We will continue to accept digital signatures on gateway declaration forms. 

  1. What is EAL’s position on remote assessment?

Working with the External Quality Assurance Providers, EAL have gained approval to deliver VIVA interviews and Professional Discussions remotely and these will be recorded events in agreement with the Employer, Training Providers and Apprentices.  Where EAL have agreed a change to the assessment method with the EQA provider, this will only be temporary and will not set a precedent for delivering EPA assessments.  We will discuss alternative assessment methods with you prior to delivery to ensure they will be delivered securely and provide valid outcomes.  

  1. Where a workplace observation is required as part of the EPA can this now be conducted remotely?

Where a face-to-face observation cannot be delivered, as set out in the assessment plan, we continue to work with our EQA Providers to gain approval for observations to be completed remotely or alternatively we may need to reschedule the observation. 

  1. I am an employer, and the training provider has closed due to the outbreak, will the apprentice’s assessment still take place?

EAL have worked closely with the EQA Providers to gain approval to adapt our delivery methodology where appropriate. Whilst we have postponed all face-to-face EPA visits based on government advice, we are using technology to enable remote assessment to take place where we have approval to do so. You should talk to your Training Provider where possible or you can contact us at epaservices@eal.org.uk

7. Can EAL still complete EPA for a furloughed worker where this apprentice is still being supported on their apprenticeship and a valid assessment can take place? 

The Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (IfATE) has introduced guidance on the delivery of assessment, including guidance on furloughed employees continuing apprenticeship training, specifically this confirms flexibilities to allow furloughed apprentices to take their end-point assessment. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response. Further guidance can be provided by contacting our team at epaservices@eal.org.uk.  

8. Can a pause in learning be taken during the EPA? 

A pause in learning can be taken at any point post gateway, including between end point assessment methods for 12 weeks.  Where there is a specified time limit for EPA post gateway, a further pause of 12 weeks is allowable.  

  1. My apprentice needs a copy of their qualification certificate confirming they have completed the mandatory qualifications to go through Gateway but I am not able to obtain the certificate from the awarding body?

We understand that awarding bodies cannot currently issue certificates therefore as a temporary measure we are supporting providers and employers by accepting a confirmation email from the awarding body as evidence of achievement. Please also refer to the response to question 12.  To ensure authentication, emails submitted to our EPA team must contain the following information: 

  • learner details 

  • certification run date 

  • unique number 

10.  Components of the Apprenticeship Standards that apprentices are required to complete contain an Exam or a practical observation as part of the assessed outcomes.  Can EAL deliver these under the current circumstances? 

We are currently looking into the feasibility of delivering both, in conjunction with our quality assurance and exams teams considering the flexibilities to be able to conduct remote exams, invigilation and practical observations. We are continuing to liaise with the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education as well as our External Quality Assurance Bodies.   

11.  Which Standards offered by EAL have been given approval for flexibilities to assessments? 

We currently have approval from the relevant Apprenticeship External Quality Assurance body to deliver temporary discretions or other flexibilities against (14) standards and continue to work to enable these end-point assessments to take place as planned.    

Further information on the agreed flexibilities can be provided by contacting our team at epaservices@eal.org.uk 

 Standard 

 

Level 2 Engineering Operative – ST0537 

Level 2 Rail Engineering Operative - ST0317 

Level 2 Rail Infrastructure Operator - ST0419 Level 2 Tramway Construction Operative – ST0669                                                                 

Level 3 Metrology Technician – ST0282 

Level 3 Engineering Technician - ST0457 

Level 3 Rail Engineering Technician - ST0318 

Level 3 Maintenance and Operations Engineering Technician -ST0154 

Level 3 Motor Vehicle Service & Maintenance Technician – ST0033 

Level 4 Associate Project Manager – ST0310 

Level 6 Electronic/Electrical Tech Support Engineer – ST0024 

Level 6 Control/Technical Support Engineer – ST0023 

Level 6 Manufacturing Engineer – ST0025 

Level 6 Product Design & Development – ST0027 


12.  Do I need to demonstrate that the apprentice has achieved their Functional Skills for gateway? 

In-line with the guidance submitted by the DFE (February 2021) an Apprentice can progress through to and complete their EPA without achieving their Functional Skills

This change to the EPA process will only be applied to qualifying apprentices during the Covid-19 crisis. This measure will ensure that apprentices can continue with their apprenticeship and sit their EPA where possible. Please note Apprentices will not be able to achieve their apprenticeship until after the FSQ pass is received by EAL, therefore, the apprenticeship certificate will not be issued until that time.  Please also find the guidance issued by the Institute for Apprenticeships. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response

Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education 

The Institute is committed to supporting the apprenticeship sector to deal with the significant challenge Covid-19 presents. IfATE’s full guidance applying to all apprenticeships is available below. If you are looking for help on a specific apprenticeship, then the Institute have just published a list.  https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/covid-19/recent-announcements/list-of-standards-with-temporary-discretions-or-flexibilities/

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