Seetec Outsource has been selected by City & Guilds, the Awarding Body and End Point Assessment Organisation for the majority of UK apprenticeships, to support the development of an innovative approach to end point assessment pilot, to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t impact years of hard work for the country’s apprentices.

Social distancing and the shift to a new norm meant the business faced the challenge of pivoting its operation to accommodate 100% home learning for apprentices and now 100% remote assessments in just a matter of weeks.

Seetec Outsource worked with City & Guilds on a reliable and flexible assessment solution which allows learners to complete their qualifications during lockdown.  Whereas assessment tests are usually carried out online in the classroom setting with a coach present, this new multi choice online test had to be robust enough to enable learners to carry out the assessment alone in their own homes with the use of an online invigilator and secure technical adjustments to ensure the validity of the test.

Mandy Smith, Executive Director, Customer Solutions for City & Guilds, said: “We asked Seetec Outsource to deliver this pilot for us because they have a proven track record of working quickly and innovatively and we knew that they would be able to respond to the demanding timelines this project required. The teams behind the business have been able to very quickly overhaul both how they train and evaluate apprentices’ progress to enable them to move to an online system of assessment that we plan to use more widely across England, both now and in the future.”

Kay Hedges, Director of Quality & Excellence for Seetec Outsource, said; “When the COVID-19 lockdown was announced we had to rebuild our curriculum from the ground up – quickly adapting it for fully online learning. The key challenge was to make it truly participative and support our delivery teams in learning how to use the new tools.  We needed to equip our teams with the skills to deliver training remotely – some for the first time – teaching them how to connect with every single learner and evaluate their progress in one on one and group situations. It was also important to us to enable peer to peer engagement to give a true classroom experience.

“It was an honour to work with City & Guilds to trial this new way of delivering end point assessments to ensure not only that our learners did not lose out, but that our new ways of working were delivering the robust teaching required. Each of the learners in the pilot did brilliantly and we were delighted to see their successes.”

Megan Neaves (left) and Olivia Freedman (right)

The six learners involved in the pilot all passed, four with Distinctions and two with Pass grades.

Megan Neaves, from Benfleet Essex, has worked as an administrator at law firm Clifford Chance for nearly three years.  She took part in the end point assessment pilot as part of her Level 3 Business Administrator Apprenticeship.

Megan said; “The apprenticeship has highlighted my strengths and weaknesses and the areas of development I should focus on for my role. I have been able to develop my leadership skills, make effective decisions based on sound reasoning and understand Clifford Chance’s purpose, activities, aims, values, visions for the future etc. I am able to also demonstrate understanding of how my work benefits the organisation.  The apprenticeship has not only helped me with my role at Clifford Chance but it has enabled me to develop transferable skills outside of Clifford Chance.

“I found the remote assessment test went smoothly and was an efficient process. I felt comfortable and had full confidence in the system. I faced no errors or delays when accessing the test and was able to complete it successfully. I would definitely recommend this way of testing.”

Olivia Freedman, from Wickford, Essex, works at Tempest Resourcing. She is undertaking the Level 3 Business Administration programme.

Olivia said; “This will help my career as I feel it gives my CV strength and adds support to having office experience, showing I have really learnt the skills, behaviours and knowledge required to further my career in this setting.

“I felt the process was very easy and the exam ran smoothly.  Carrying out the exam at home did add some comfort and I felt relaxed the whole time.”

The jobs market was turned upside down when COVID-19 took hold over the UK.  The UK government took steps to help businesses and keep people in jobs, and companies nationwide took tough decisions about furloughing staff and changing ways of working to enable people to work from home.

Seetec Outsource overhauled its entire apprenticeship delivery function right away.  Kay, who is also an Ofsted inspector, and her team moved the Seetec Outsource model to 100% online remote learning and quickly trained all of the Seetec Outsource operations team, headed up by Nikki Bardsley, on how to use the new tools.

From tutors learning how to deliver classes online while home schooling their own children, to furloughed employees continuing learning and logistics professionals juggling a job that is busier than normal while trying to maintain classes, the new norm threw up a myriad of challenges that the Seetec model had to accommodate.

Virtual learning can be as complex and interactive as the real-life classroom.  The platform Seetec Outsource uses enables multi user classes and classrooms so that learners can break off from one session into smaller groups, still working together, and then come back together again at the end.

Following the successful pilot Seetec’s first full round of end point assessments, which will be delivered this month, will enable the business to evaluate the new system across the board.

Seetec Outsource is also delivering holistic support to learners in what is very much an uncertain time for them professionally and personally. From mental health support to advice on debt management and provision of information on everything from substance misuse to domestic abuse, the business is committed to ensuring the wellbeing of learners and colleagues.

For more information about online apprenticeship training and assessment contact a member of the team.