Apprentice numbers ‘a disaster’, says Ofsted’s Sir Michael Wilshaw

Apprentice numbers ‘a disaster’, says Ofsted's Sir Michael Wilshaw

The number of young people employed as apprentices in England is “a disaster” and Ofsted inspectors will be ensuring schools are promoting “all the options” to learners, chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has told MPs.

Sir Michael appeared in front of the new education select committee on Wednesday (September 16), where he faced questions about the role of Ofsted.

Quizzed by MPs about the importance of destination data for both schools and colleges, Sir Michael said an “important” line of questioning for school head teachers would be about post-16 options and careers advice.

He said: “What’s really important for inspections of secondary schools is that HMI ask questions about post-16 provision, whether schools and head teachers of secondary schools are providing youngsters with all the information that they need to make good choices and not restricting that information to get youngsters into their own sixth form.”

“That’s really important and that’s going to be a big emphasis this year. We are going to be asking a lot more about careers guidance than ever before,” he added.

Sir Michael said: “The fact we’ve only got six per cent of youngsters going into apprenticeships is a disaster, and it’s really important that schools are fair on their youngsters and make sure that all the options are put to them.

“It’s a disaster area in schools. It hasn’t been focused-on in the way that it should. It should never be seen as a bolt-on or an
add-on.”

Sir Michael was joined by Ofsted’s chief operating officer Matthew Coffey, who said that Ofsted had been pushing for better use of destination data.

He said: “We’ve said for a long time how important destination data is, particularly at the end of key stage four and key stage five, in FE colleges, for example. It’s really important that colleges understand the impact of what they’re doing on a young person’s later development.

“So we have maintained this call for several years and the government is absolutely responding, to be able to develop measures that are going to be publicly available to add to the public accountability framework.”

He added that many good providers track destinations themselves, adding that “in fact a lot of FE colleges spend a lot of their resources for very good reasons, to understand the impact of the different courses and how they can improve further”.