Revealed: Six more apprenticeship providers banned from taking new recruits

Six more poor-performing apprenticeship providers have been barred from taking on new starts – bringing the total up to 12.

The penalties were revealed in the latest update to the register of apprenticeship training providers, dated October 11.

It means that the Education and Skills Funding Agency has wielded its powers against all new apprenticeship providers found to be making ‘insufficient progress’ in at least one area up until the end of September.

Employer provider Securitas Security Services Limited Among was those added to the list in the most recent update.

Its damning monitoring visit report, published September 19, found that most of the company’s 650 apprentices had had no choice but to enrol on the programmes, and that some had not had a progress review for five months due to a lack of resources.

Other newly-barred providers include Entrust Support Services, a joint venture company between Capita and Staffordshire County Council.

Mitre Group Limited is also on the list, despite its managing director, Jennie Bowmer, telling FE Week in September that many of Ofsted’s comments were inaccurate and that it had “formally raised a number of concerns” with the watchdog.

The latest tranche of barred providers follows the first group of six, details of which were revealed in September.

Four more providers have been deemed to be making ‘insufficient progress’ in at least one area in reports published since the beginning of October, but are not yet on the ESFA’s list of barred providers.

Guidance published by the ESFA in August confirmed that 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.

These restrictions will remain in place until the provider has received a full inspection, which should take place within a year of the monitoring visit, 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”.

In addition to these new powers over apprenticeship quality, which FE Week exclusively reported in May that the watchdog was set to gain, Ofsted has been awarded £5.4 million from the Department for Education to carry out monitoring visits to all new apprenticeship providers within its scope.

The visits, announced by chief inspector Amanda Spielman last November, were intended to sniff out “scandalous” attempts to waste public money.

Their introduction is believed to be a result of growing concerns around the number of untested training providers that had made it onto the register, and which therefore had access to huge sums of public money.