A glowing ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report has been published today on independent training provider the Fashion Retail Academy.
Inspectors returned grade one verdicts across the board, with managers and governors praised for establishing “a culture of excellence that results in very high achievement for learners”.
The performance of the London-based provider was an improvement on the grade two-overall Ofsted verdict from its previous inspection in 2009.
Principal Lee Lucas said: “We are delighted at the recognition of the unique and pioneering nature of the FRA.
“This would not be possible without the support of our employer and retail partners along with our dedicated and passionate staff.”
The provider, which has charitable status, opened in 2005 as a joint venture between the government and fashion retail.
It was given a mission is to develop and inspire talent for a specialist career in that industry.
At the time of inspection, approximately 900 learners were studying full-time courses from level two to four.
The majority (671) were aged 16 to 19, and most of them were on level three programmes in fashion retail or design.
The report said that teaching, learning and assessment were of the “highest quality”, with working relationships between students and staff “exemplary”.
This applied to numeracy and literacy as well as fashion related studies, as an impressive level of commitment was recognised to all learners achieving “a high standard of skills in English and mathematics”.
It added that learners were helped to develop “a keen awareness of how society and cultural influences impact on retail fashion”, through teachers carefully selecting topics and images to challenge learners’ preconceptions.
It explained this develops their “ability to debate and discuss – for example, in one lesson the teacher presented recent catwalk images of models wearing face-obscuring masks together with newspaper coverage of the ban on wearing a burka in France.
“Learners and the teachers then explored their own views on the subject and discussed what challenges this presented for the industry.”
Support into jobs after courses are completed was also recognised as a priority.
The inspection team, noted: “All learners benefit from a carefully planned work placement or internship within a high street fashion retail business.”
“As a result of excellent ongoing careers advice and guidance, almost all learners gain employment at their first-choice employer or move into higher education.”
Industry masterclass lectures were also praised for helping “learners to thoroughly grasp the necessary skills and attributes demanded by employers and also provide good opportunities for learners to network and talk to a wide range of high-profile fashion retail personalities”.
Reflecting on the success of FRA, which has trained over 7,000 students over the last 12 years, Mr Lucas said: “It has been a catalyst for bringing together an extremely competitive industry for a common purpose to achieve a shared goal; to develop and inspire talent for a specialist career in fashion retail.
“I believe that it is these relationships, along with our continued focus on ensuring everything we do results in positive outcomes for learners, that is the biggest factor in our success.”