Functional Skills Qualifications (FSQ) flexibilities for apprentices

ESFA have recently announced to employers and training providers that eligible apprentices can now take their End-Point Assessment before achieving the required Functional Skills Qualifications (FSQ). This means apprentices may pass the gateway stage before they have taken their FSQ tests.

These Apprentices must still take their FSQ alongside, or within three months of their EPA. Apprentices are still required to achieve FSQs, where they need them, before they can complete their programme and receive their completion certificate. This will include where the apprentice may be eligible to achieve an FSQ through teacher assessed grade following the joint DfE/Ofqual consultation.

Training Providers will be responsible for determining which apprentices should use this flexibility. As more apprentices will now be able to take their EPA, training providers will need to work with Achieve+Partners to manage the volume of assessments.  

ESFA have published updated guidance to reflect this change. Training providers and employers will need to ensure that only apprentices who need to use this temporary flexibility meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

  1. The apprentice must be ready to take their EPA before 31 May 2021. 
  2. The apprentice must be ready to take both their FSQ assessment and their End-Point Assessment. This means that, in the provider’s view, they have met all the other gateway criteria and the only thing stopping them from progressing is FSQ testing. 

The provider must have they have exhausted all possibilities to access FSQ assessment via face-to-face and remote delivery. This includes FSQ testing via:                

  1. Remote delivery, where it is offered by the Awarding Organisation.
  2. Face-to-face delivery, where it is safe to do so and in line with public health guidance.
  3. Other flexibilities currently available through Ofqual’s Extraordinary Regulatory Framework such as invigilation by the employer.


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