Provider challenges new-look inspection

One of the first Ofsted inspections under the new common inspection framework is to be disputed.

Merseyside-based Central Training, which bills itself as one of the UK’s largest providers of vocational training and education, was inspected over five days from September 17.

The company, which is made up of sports, skills, business and fitness divisions, was graded as inadequate. It was rated as “good” when it was last inspected in late 2009.

The latest report said Central Training’s “large majority of learners” made slow progress and did not complete their programme within the planned time.

“Assessment practices are not effective in supporting learners to make timely progress.

With all of the above considered, it is difficult to rationalise this with the grade four we got.”

“The quality of learners’ experience varies greatly across the provision due to weaknesses in the management of improvement processes.”

However, Gary Wiswell, the company’s chief operating officer, said he planned to appeal the grade.

“We are extremely unhappy with many aspects of the inspection — one of the first to be done under the new framework,” he said.

“We believe the data used to reach judgments is factually incorrect and measured against inapplicable benchmarking.

“For example, Central Training delivers apprenticeships in sport nationally. In their comment, Ofsted used overall success data, rather than sector-specific data, to describe success rates as significantly below average. “We are obviously very disappointed that despite raising concerns over the use of inapplicable data, both during and after inspection, our objection was ignored and has led to a false judgment.”

He said that feedback throughout the inspection was good with 80 per cent of observations of teaching, learning and assessment being graded one or two.

“The inspectors agreed with our internal monitoring arrangements and judgments. With all of the above considered, it is difficult to rationalise this with the grade four we got.”

Mr Wiswell said that Central Training was committed to improving all aspects of provision and looked forward to working with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service. Central Training received £816,056 of SFA cash last year under the adult skills budget and £963,833 to deliver 16-18 apprenticeships. This year, it has been allocated £837,858 and £1,024,137, respectively, plus £4,096 for 19-plus discretionary learner support.

A spokesperson for Ofsted said it did not comment on individual inspections.