Functional Skills Flexibility: EPA can be taken prior to Functional Skills

The new flexibility means that eligible apprentices can start their end point assessment (EPA) before they achieve their functional skills qualifications (FSQ) if they have been waiting for the opportunity to access functional skills assessments but have been prevented from doing so due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

This flexibility is in place from 25 February for apprentices who start EPA before 31 May 2021.

Who is eligible to use the functional skills flexibility?

This flexibility is only available to apprentices who cannot access FSQ assessment via face to face or remote assessment, and who have confirmed their intent to complete their FSQ within three months of starting their EPA. Confirmation of this must also be evidenced in the learner file evidence pack.

Apprentices who are waiting to take their FSQ assessment can pass through gateway and take their EPA without delay. To be eligible, the apprentice must:

  • not be on a break in learning (an apprentice may return from a break in learning to take their end point assessment)
  • meet all other gateway criteria to progress to their EPA as specified in the apprenticeship standard (except meeting the English and maths requirements)
  • have been confirmed by their provider and employer as ready for both their EPA and functional skills qualification assessment
  • have exhausted all possibilities to access an FSQ assessment via face-to-face and remote assessment
  • start their EPA on or before 31 May 2021
  • provide a written declaration of their intention to take the required functional skills assessments within 3 months of starting their end point assessment. The provider must keep this in the evidence pack.

Completion payments and evidence needed

As completion payments for the apprenticeship will be triggered by progression to EPA, it is essential that training providers are able to demonstrate that they have exhausted all possibilities to access FSQ assessment via face-to-face and remote assessment through their awarding organisation. Apprenticeship funding rules require providers to declare this in their evidence pack along with a written declaration of the apprentice’s intent to take the required functional skills assessments within three months of starting their EPA. In line with business-as-usual arrangements, this evidence pack content will be subject to audit and associated controls.

Completion of the apprenticeship

Apprentices can still only complete their apprenticeship once they have passed their EPA and achieved their FSQ in English and/or maths as required. After these achievements have been confirmed by 1st for EPA, we will request the completion certificate. This means that training providers will be expected to provide prompt confirmation of the apprentice’s FSQ results to us once these have been awarded, to allow certification to be issued.


For more information on Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, visit this web page.

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