Relief for apprentice farriers as delayed exams get the go-ahead

  • The delayed farrier apprenticeship exams have been given the green light as a new assessment organisation is approved.

    VetSkill has been approved by the Farriers Registration Council (FRC) and Ofqual to deliver the end-point assessments, after the FRC withdrew its approval of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (WCF). In October H&H reported that the FRC had “lost confidence in WCF’s ability to deliver the end-point assessment (EPA) with the appropriate level of assurance”. At the time, a WCF spokesman said the company was “disappointed” but “working hard to rectify the situation”.

    This meant that the exams originally scheduled for 17 November and 20-24 November could not go ahead, while Ofqual, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical (IfATE), and the FRC found a new EPA provider.

    In a statement yesterday (13 December) a VetSkill spokesman said the organisation was “proud to announce” it had approval.

    “The first round of EPAs will take place at Myerscough College and Warwickshire College in mid-January with Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College following shortly after,” read the statement.

    VetSkill director of operations Sam Double said assessors and venues have been confirmed and bookings are being taken for the EPA.

    “The VetSkill team have worked tirelessly to be approved for the level three farrier apprenticeship standard, in record time. This could not have been achieved without the support of the FRC and the WCF for which we are very grateful. We would also like to thank the three training providers and the assessor team for working closely with us to achieve this,” he said.

    Ben Benson AWCF, president of the British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association, told H&H the association was “really saddened” that the WCF lost its end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) status.

    “We’re really grateful for VetSkill coming in with the support of the WCF, so that we can see this cohort of apprentices finish their apprenticeships and gain their qualification and access to the farriery register,” he said.

    “We’re confident that the EPA will be the same high standard that we all expect from farrier qualifications in the UK. The farriery industry worldwide wants to see the WCF back as the EPAO for the apprenticeship and we would all like to support the WCF in their reapplication to be that.”

    IfATE deputy director Joanna Moonan told H&H the organisation is “delighted” VetSkill has been approved.

    “It’s really good news as apprentices will now be able to complete their assessments and progress to the next stage of their careers in farriery,” she said.

    The WCF spokesman told H&H the company had no comment.

    Update 19 December 2023:

    In a statement issued on 18 December 2023 a WCF spokesman said the company “wish all the candidates well” in the January exams.

    “The WCF intend to grant the post-nominal DipWCF to successful candidates who

    will undertake their EPA exams being delivered by VetSkill in January 2024,” it read.

    “Once the WCF has addressed all the FRC concerns, the WCF will be reapplying for approval in the first part of 2024. We wish to thank all registered farriers in the UK for their overwhelming support in our quest to continue running farriery examinations in the UK.”

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