Ofsted Watch: Week of winners and losers in FE

It has been a mixed week for FE as two colleges succeeded in climbing higher in the ranks, while two new providers received the lowest possible Ofsted grade.

The greatest accolades were handed to Preston College and St John’s School and College, both of which managed to climb from a ‘requires improvement’ rating up to ‘good’.

Ofsted commended leaders at Preston College for having “rectified successfully the vast majority of weaknesses identified at the previous inspection”, and particularly for working well with partners and employers and implementing effective improvements to the quality of teaching.

The report said the proportion of students achieving their qualifications “has risen considerably since the previous inspection” and applauded the high levels of academic and pastoral support available, but warned that the quality of apprenticeships has not improved quickly enough.

St John’s School and College, and independent specialist college for learners with complex learning disabilities in Brighton, was said to offer a “rich and creative curriculum that provides opportunities for self-expression and enterprise”.

“Learners develop the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to move on to their next steps and to become more independent,” the report said, commending the “ambitious” leaders for taking “decisive action that has led to improvements throughout the college”.

It was also ‘good’ news for Kent-based independent learning provider Profile Development and Training, which received a grade two after its first full inspection.

Inspectors said staff had “built successfully on a strong past record of achievement under subcontracting arrangements and made a good start to their direct provision,” and praised tutors for their “excellent understanding and extensive experience”.

Brighton’s Varndean College, a sixth form college, and London-based provider Train’d Up Railway Resourcing both received their second consecutive ‘good’ ratings from Ofsted.

Varndean was praised for its curriculum, the “exceptional quality” of its learners’ work and its “highly inclusive culture”, while Train’d Up was commended for “excellent partnerships” that allow it to provide “high-quality apprenticeships” for learners who were described as “highly motivated” and “keen to learn”.

However, others had a far less successful week, with two new providers receiving the lowest possible grade.

London-based training provider Touchstone Education Services was rated ‘inadequate’ in every category, and slammed by inspectors for working with employers who did not recognise the names of their apprentices.

And Chic Beauty Academy in Middlesbrough also received a grade four rating, attracting criticism for “misleading” careers advice and not consulting with employers to ensure courses provide learners with the skills and qualifications they need to gain employment locally.

And Southampton Solent University was deemed by inspectors to be grade two for its apprenticeship provision – its first full inspection for this type of provision. It was rated ‘outstanding’ for its maritime FE provision in 2011.

The report said apprentices “rapidly develop good clinical and health-related vocational skills and behaviours” and lecturers have “considerable vocational knowledge and strong occupational expertise”, but found personal development reviews were not “fully effective”. 

Two early monitoring reports of new apprenticeship providers were also published this week. Both University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and London-based Reed Specialist Recruitment were deemed to be making ‘reasonable progress’ in every category.

GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Preston College  15/10/2018 29/11/2018 2 3

 

Sixth Form Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Varndean College 30/10/2018 30/11/2018 2 2

 

Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Touchstone Educational Solutions Ltd 16/10/2018 26/11/2018 4 N/A
Chic Beauty Academy Ltd 16/10/2018 28/11/2018 4 N/A
Profile Development And Training Limited 06/11/2018 26/11/2018 2 N/A
Train’d Up Railway Resourcing Limited 30/10/2018 27/11/2018 2 2

 

Independent specialist colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous Grade
St John’s School and College 16/10/2018 27/11/2018 2 3

 

Employer providers Inspected Published Grade
Reed Specialist Recruitment Limited 24/10/2018 29/11/2018 M
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust 12/11/2018 29/11/2018 M

 

Other FE and skills Inspected Published Grade Previous Grade
Southampton Solent University 30/10/2018 30/11/2018 2 1