Barclays sticks by Elmfield Training

The Skills Funding Agency has been “working closely” with Barclays Bank over its apprenticeship plans with Elmfield Training after the provider was banned from taking on new learners, FE Week can reveal.

The multinational bank said last month it wanted to double its apprentice intake to 2,000, despite contracted provider Elmfield having been banned from taking on new learners.

The bank said it wanted to achieve its aim — targeting young people aged 16 to 24 not in education, employment or training — within two years.

The announcement came after the agency’s ban for Elmfield, under a notice of serious breach, over its Ofsted grade four inspection result in July.

The agency is committed to working with Barclays to ensure the continuation of this successful programme.”

A Barclays spokesperson said: “Our commitment is unchanged to apprenticeships. We are working closely with the agency and Elmfield to ensure we meet that commitment.”

Elmfield declined to comment, but an agency spokesperson said: “We have worked closely with Barclays to ensure they are aware of the conditions attached to Elmfield’s notice.Future starts at Barclays will be dependent on the agency’s assurance that Elmfield has made satisfactory progress against their post inspection action plan.”

She added: “The agency is committed to working with Barclays to ensure the continuation of this successful programme.”

Ofsted found outcomes for Elmfield learners were inadequate and the majority of its apprentices did not complete their framework within the planned time.

The inspection report came just months after FE Week reported how Elmfield’s success rates showed just 47.5 per cent of its 13,420 leavers in the retail and wholesale sector, aged 25+, walked away with an apprenticeship certificate in 2011/12.

Although Ofsted acknowledged the provider’s success rates were good in newer areas of provision, accounting for around 20 per cent of its delivery and including banking, some elements nevertheless required improvement.

Elmfield said it accepted the education watchdog’s recommendations for improvement and would, “focus on tackling the success factors identified initially in our self-assessment report”.

Barclays said at the time it would stand by the provider.

The agency’s spokesperson said: “The notice of serious breach issued to Elmfield following its inadequate inspection outcome will remain in place until a full Ofsted re-inspection has taken place.

A condition of the notice is that Elmfield cannot start any new learners with either new or existing employers or apply for growth.

“This condition will only be lifted once the agency is assured that Elmfield is making satisfactory progress against their post-inspection action plan.”

Meanwhile, the agency’s requirements of Elmfield under the notice were disclosed to FE Week following a Freedom of Information Act request.

The agency issued its notice to Elmfield chief executive Simon Shaw on July 15.

He replaced former chief executive Ged Syddall after his resignation in light of the Ofsted blow, although it is understood he remains the provider’s majority shareholder.
The notice said a grade three result was needed from Elmfield’s next Ofsted inspection. 

It also set out seven key areas of concern to be monitored at monthly case conferences arranged and chaired by the agency.