Ofsted has officially been given the final say over poor-performing apprenticeship providers following an early monitoring visit, the Education and Skills Funding Agency has confirmed today.
FE Week reported back in May that the move was on the cards, following embarrassment for the government over apprenticeship accountability.
According to the ESFA’s ‘Removal from register of apprenticeship training providers and eligibility to receive public funding to deliver apprenticeship training’, updated today, any provider making ‘insufficient progress’ in at least one of the themes under review will be barred from taking on any new apprentices – either directly or through a subcontracting arrangement.
They can continue to work with existing apprentices, but must tell the employers, and any lead providers, about the monitoring visit outcome.
These restrictions will remain in place until the provider has received a full inspection and been awarded at least a grade three for its apprenticeship provision.
The ESFA can only overrule this guidance if it “identifies an exceptional extenuating circumstance”.
FE Week reported in May that Ofsted was set to be given these new powers – along with up to £7 million more cash to visit every new apprenticeship provider.
That followed an Education select committee hearing at which skills minister Anne Milton admitted it wasn’t clear who was accountable for quality at these new providers.
There had been considerable dismay at mixed messages from the ESFA, which recently permitted a provider to recruit apprentices once more – just two months after Ofsted branded its provision “not fit for purpose”.
FE Week has asked Ofsted if it has received the additional resources, and how soon after a monitoring visit a provider deemed to be making ‘insufficient progress’ would receive a full inspection, but has yet to receive a response.