Ofsted watch: Mega apprenticeship provider to high-profile employers hit with grade three

A major financial services training provider has been found to ‘require improvement’, in the only full FE and skills inspection report published this week.

Elsewhere, an apprenticeships and adult learning provider was found to be making ‘insufficient progress’ in three themes under review, in a follow-up monitoring visit report.

Kaplan Financial, which works with more than 2,000 employers dropped from its previous grade two in a report published September 28 and based on a visit at the end of July.

At the time of inspection it had almost 5,000 apprentices following programmes from level two to seven in administration and law, accounting, and finance, and around 800 adult learners.

Employers known to have worked with Kaplan include British Airways, Eurostar and Morrisons Supermarkets.

A spokesperson for Kaplan Financial said it accepted Ofsted’s findings.

“Their report recognised that our teaching is good; their critical observations were, in the main, about programmes we no longer offer,” she said.

“We look forward to a re-inspection in the near future and have already advised our larger clients of this report.”

A “significant restructuring” of the organisation was blamed for disruptions to apprentices’ review visits, which had “impacted negatively on apprentices’ achievements in 2016/17”.

Managers were criticised for having “an overly positive view of too many aspects” of the provision and for not having “accurate enough information” about apprentices’ progress.

The report noted that leaders had taken “effective action” in ceasing to work with “several underperforming subcontractors”, but also said they had “not taken swift enough action to rectify the weaknesses in training” at four of the nine subcontractors listed on the report.

Governors had been unable to provide leaders and senior managers with “sufficient challenge about shortcomings in the quality of provision”, as they “do not always receive sufficiently reliable information about adult learners’ and apprentices’ progress, achievements or the quality of teaching, learning and assessment”.

“Too many” apprentices did not complete on time, as “talent coaches do not always set apprentices challenging learning targets”.

“The proportion of adult learners who successfully completed their courses was low in 2016/17,” the report noted.

Skills Edge Training, an apprenticeships and adult learning provider based in Norwich, was found to be making ‘insufficient progress’ in three of the five areas under review in a follow-up report published September 28 and based on a monitoring visit in late August.

The visit followed a full inspection in December 2017, when Skills Edge was rated ‘requires improvement’.

It was deemed to be making ‘insufficient progress’ in securing rapid improvement in the areas of weakness identified at that inspection; in ensuring that the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is at least good; and in planning apprenticeship programmes to ensure apprentices make good progress and achieve on time.

But it was found to be making ‘reasonable progress’ in ensuring that learners and apprentices receive high-quality training to improve their English and mathematics skills, and ‘significant progress’ in safeguarding.

Independent learning providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Kaplan Financial Limited 24/07/2018 28/09/2018 3 2
Skills Edge Training 22/08/2018 28/09/2018 M M