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From Disaster to Triumph – Edward Hemmings’s Big EPA Reveal

MHD - July 26, 2019 Education Advice & Solutions, MHD News

From Disaster to Triumph – Edward Hemmings’s Big EPA Reveal

MHD Global Ambassador Edward Hemmings has been using our platform to support delivery of hairdressing and barbering education at Alan d – and had been anticipating great things when it came to EPA results.

However, things didn’t go quite according to plan for his barbering students. Read on to discover the results, what went wrong and how our shared collaboration has helped him turn things around.

Anything less than 100% is failure… or so I thought!


Our philosophy has always been that anything less than 100% is failure. Or it was until our first 2 EPAs, which were in Barbering & Ladies Hairdressing. I promised I’d let you have the results, good or bad. So here it goes:

Ladies Hairdressing: 6 sat, 2 distinctions, 3 passes, 1 fail.

Barbering: 3 sat, 3 failed.

Well, that gave us a bloody nose! But we knew we had to show our warrior spirit, dig deep and turn things around. And I’m pleased to report that’s exactly what we’ve done.

So, let’s start with the good. The skill in ladies hairdressing couldn’t be faulted and the way that students dealt with the day was fantastic, truly demonstrating their skill and resilience. Unfortunately, one candidate forgot just 1 of the required techniques on long hair, which resulted in the single fail.

The problem with the barbers? Models – they were 3 down. Skill wasn’t in question. The problem arose when it came to completing all the requirements. On test day, our students forget their plans, and – in one case – totally fell apart.

It was time to get back to basics

Back to basics

So, what went wrong?

The majority of our students are already working on the salon floor, so we knew it wasn’t a quality issue. In fact, we’ve always taught our apprentices to higher standards than the basic requirements. Ultimately, we were naïve in thinking that possessing the actual skills required would be enough to smash the EPAs.

That said, our barbering results were a clear indication that we needed to shift our approach. We decided we needed to get back to basics and keep everything on EPA day clean and simple. No risk taking or pushing the boat out. Just meeting the precise requirements.

We’ll never change our core curriculum

Core curriculum

I’ve been horrified to hear about providers who just prep their candidates for the EPA, simply teaching a single haircut, colour and long-hair technique. These apprentices will lose out in the long run, sadly, as they’ll qualify but will be completely unprepared for a career on the salon floor.

What we absolutely haven’t done is change our core curriculum – and we’ll never just teach to the test. Instead, we’ve shifted our focus to make students aware of EPA requirements from month 1.

Now they’re responsible for sourcing their own models locally. What we do is make sure that the models themselves know that – without them – the apprentice won’t be able to take their EPA and won’t qualify.

We’re collaborating closely with employers to ensure they’re supported – and that they practise the required skills on a regular basis. On EPA day itself, everything is simple – students know exactly what’s expected of them and we’re able to meet all requirements.

Collaborating with MHD to personalise learning

Personalised learning

As you probably know, I’ve been using MHD’s platform to support Alan d’s delivery of education since becoming Global Ambassador at the end of last year. In particular, I’ve been leveraging MHD’s playlist technology to help engage students and get them excited about their learning.

We’d previously taken a group approach to learning on the MHD platform – but after these results we decided to devise an individual learning plan for every student… something that’s easy using MHD’s playlist technology.

Working closely with the team of MHD – especially Director of Operations Sarah Oglesby – we’ve gone through and identified core tutorials that students can use to cement EPA techniques. For example, barbering students take Scissors and Clippers-Over-Comb Part 1. Having MHD on board to offer support and advice has been incredibly useful. Thanks to our collaboration, Alan d students benefit from our combined expertise.

Plus, the interactive MHD platform enables Alan d tutors to liaise closely with employers when it comes to required techniques too, using the quality tutorials to standardise learning across the academy and the salon.

Our latest results? Success all round!


It’s been quite a learning curve – but one with a happy ending.

By taking a growth mindset approach – and collaborating closely with our employer partners and the amazing team at MHD – we achieved a 100% pass rate in our June results. And we’ve built on that success since every single one of our latest batch of barbering and ladies hairdressing students aced their EPAs with a distinction.

So if you’re an employer on the hunt for a training provider that’s invested in apprentice success, give me a call on 0207 6349400 or message me via my Instagram account @alandhair – and while you’re at it, why not book in an appointment with MHD Director of Operations Sarah Oglesby to discuss how MHD can help you achieve results like mine.


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