Just seven learners at college used FE ‘TripAdvisor’

Ofsted has defended its TripAdvisor-style website where learners review providers after it emerged that just seven learners at a college inspected in March had logged on to share their views since the start of the academic year.

The education watchdog launched Learner View, which allows learners to rate their provider, in September 2012 — and since then the site has received an average of just 48 responses per provider.

At West Thames College, which received a grade two result following inspection in March, just seven of its 7,562 learners contributed to the site this academic year.

And at Chichester College, which was achieved a grade one rating last month, 86 of its 14,629 learners, or one-in-170 contributed, while at West Cheshire College, given a grade three last month, 58 of 15,257 learners shared their view on the site — one-in-263.

At London’s grade four LeSoCo college, 292, or one-in-60, of its 17,618 learners shared their experiences.

But Ofsted national director for FE and skills Lorna Fitzjohn told FE Week she was standing by the website.

“In the last year Learner View has received over 60,000 unique responses from learners eager to voice their views on their provider,” she said.

“We believe this shows the role the tool is playing in enabling learners to get involved in improving education and training provision.”

There are currently 1,250 providers registered on the site, and given Mrs Fitzjohn’s 60,000 figure, this would average out to 48 contributions per provider over the 18-month period since its launch.

However, she did acknowledge that greater awareness of the tool among learners would boost the number of visits to the site, and the amount of feedback on providers it received.

She said: “We will continue to promote the tool so that more learners can contribute and benefit from it.”

Learners are asked to rate whether their training programme has met their needs, the support they have received the quality of the teaching, assessment and feedback.

They are also asked whether they would recommend the provider to a friend.

Mrs Fitzjohn said: “As well as giving learners a better insight into which provider is right for them, the tool has also proven a vital asset for Ofsted inspectors in helping them understand the effectiveness of providers.”

She added: “The launch of Employer View, a tool for employers to rate the providers they use, will complement Learner View and help further a dialogue between learners, employers and providers that will ultimately benefit the quality of education and training.”