End-point assessment (EPA)

The NCTJ is an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) approved by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to deliver end-point assessments for the junior journalist apprenticeship standard which was introduced in March 2015.

Apprentice junior journalists complete the NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, the industry standard entry qualification for trainee journalists, to meet the ‘gateway’ requirements to progress to the end-point assessment before completing the apprenticeship programme.

There are two parts to the EPA for a junior journalist apprentice:


1. The apprentice will complete a work-related project during the final six weeks of the apprenticeship. It must demonstrate that the apprentice has gained all the core journalism knowledge and skills listed in the junior journalist standard and the additional specialist skills relevant to their company’s media sector.

It must also demonstrate an understanding of the application of those knowledge and skills and practices acquired both on and off-the-job. The apprentice may choose the topic with the approval of their employer and the NCTJ and the project may be produced across any platform(s). It also includes a project statement with a rationale and reflective review of their learning during the apprenticeship.


2. The EPA also includes an independent assessment of the qualities (behaviours) of the apprentice. This is completed by the employer and/or the training provider.

1. 90-day notice period
The employer and/or training provider must contact the NCTJ no later than three months before the end of the apprenticeship to confirm if the apprentice(s) has completed the ‘gateway’ qualification, the Diploma in Journalism, and can therefore progress to the end-point assessment or to highlight which subjects are still to be achieved to enable progression.

2. Project plan

Once we have confirmed that an apprentice is eligible to progress to the EPA, the NCTJ will issue a project plan form for the apprentice to complete and return to the NCTJ for approval.

3. Project plan approval
The NCTJ will confirm within two weeks, by email, approval of the project plan. If the NCTJ requires any further information or has concerns about whether the plan is sufficient to demonstrate they have met all the knowledge and skills, the plan will be returned with a request for further information or may be refused as not suitable to meet the requirements of the end-point assessment. In this case, the apprentice may resubmit a revised project plan or a new project plan for approval.

4. Project submissions

Completed projects, project statements and qualities assessments are submitted for marking via Dropbox during the final six weeks of the apprentice's training scheme.

5. Marking the projects

The NCTJ uses trained and experienced examiners with the necessary industry-based skills and expertise to mark the work-related projects. The NCTJ applies its internal marking and moderation procedures that are followed for all qualifications providing robust quality assurance and rigorous and fair assesment and standards. Assessment criteria are produced in line with regulatory guidelines and have been developed to meet the industry standard and to ensure quality assessment that maintains the standard over time.

6. Results and feedback

EPA results are issued within four weeks of submission for marking to the NCTJ. This allows for our internal quality assurance processes and procedures and external quality assurance. Results are issued direct to the employer and the apprentice and the training provider will also be notified. If an apprentice fails the end-point assessment, feedback will be given by the NCTJ assessor in the form of a feedback report which details why the project has failed.

7. Resubmissions

An apprentice may resubmit their project for re-assessment no sooner than six weeks after the intitial results have been issued.

8. Apprenticeship grading

Total marks available are calculated as follows:

  • Diploma in Journalism = 50 per cent of the overall apprenticeship grade
  • Work-related project = 40 per cent of the overall apprenticeship grade
  • Qualities(behaviours) = 10 per cent of the overall apprenticeship grade

The overall grade awarded for the junior journalist apprenticeship is calculated as follows:

  • Pass (50 to 59 per cent of the total marks available)
  • Merit (60 to 69 per cent of the total marks available)
  • Distinction (70 per cent and above of the total marks available).

9. Certification

Apprenticeship certificate 

The NCTJ (EPAO) is responsible for applying for the apprentice's final apprenticeship certificate. The NCTJ applies for the certificate to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) by submitting the evidence to ensure satisfactory completion of the apprenticeship programme. 

After EPA results have been issued, the apprentice's training provider is required to complete and submit a checklist to the NCTJ which includes permission from the apprentice for the NCTJ to apply for the certificate, confirmation of the employer’s address and futher mandatory details required by the ESFA. 
The apprentice's training provider must also ensure that all details given on the checklist are correctly input to the apprentice’s individual learner record (ILR) prior to application for the final certificate. If any details do not match those in the apprentice’s ILR, the certificate request will be rejected and a further application will be neccessary. It is vital that the ILR record matches the application details. Once approved, the ESFA will issue the final apprenticeship certificate directly to the employer. 

Diploma certificate 

The NCTJ will issue a diploma qualification certificate within six weeks of completion.

End-point assessment certificate

The NCTJ will issue an NCTJ completion certificate for the EPA and provide confirmation to the employer that the apprentice has passed the end-point assessment. This will be done within six weeks of the course end date.

External quality assurance

The NCTJ has robust quality assurance procedures in place to ensure the consistency and fairness of assessment. The End-Point Assessment for the Junior Journalist Standard is externally quality assured by Ofqual.


Fees are applicable for apprentice registration and certification, diploma assessments and the end-point assessment. Current fees are published here.

Appeals and complaints

Apprentices, employers and training providers may appeal the final results for the Diploma in Journalism or the end-point assessment. Details of the NCTJ appeals procedures are available here.

The NCTJ is committed to providing high-quality assessments and we will resolve any problems you may have with our service as quickly as possible. Please see our complaints policy and procedures for more details.