Damning Ofsted visit finds provider not knowing who its apprentices are

A training provider has been heavily criticised for not knowing accurately enough who their apprentices are, in an Ofsted monitoring report which rated it ‘insufficient’ across the board.

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was today accused of failing to understand what constitutes a “high quality apprenticeship programme”.

Ofsted found that managers are “unable to provide accurate information on the numbers of apprentices who remain on the programme or their progress”.

Managers are unable to provide accurate information on apprentices who remain on programme

Inspectors also said that a few apprentices don’t even know what apprenticeship they are on and do not know when they are due to complete their programmes. As a result, “too many apprentices” have passed their planned end date due to lack of manager’s intervention.

The trust is the eighth provider out of 156 to be rated ‘insufficient’ across the board since Ofsted started monitoring new apprenticeship providers in August 2018.

Under rules from the Education and Skills Funding Agency, any provider with an ‘insufficient’ rating will be banned from taking on any new apprentices until the grade improves to at least ‘requires improvement’.

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust started delivering apprenticeships in October 2017, after delivering healthcare diplomas for over a decade.

At the time of the Ofsted visit in February, there were 70 apprentices enrolled on a mix of framework and standards-based apprenticeship programmes. They are all working towards qualifications at level 2 and level 3 in healthcare support and adult care worker.

According to the regulator, leaders and managers at Poole Hospital Trust have failed to “gain a clear understanding of the additional requirements of an apprenticeship training programme”, and have not paid enough attention to the quality of teaching, learning and assessment and safeguarding of apprentices.

“As a result, the trust does not have the appropriate resources and processes in place to ensure that the programme is delivered successfully and safely,” the report found.

Managers at the trust were accused of having insufficient oversight of apprentices’ attendance for off-the-job training, despite liaising effectively with ward managers to plan the off-the-job training during times of high pressure in the hospital while ensuring that patient care is not compromised.

Inspectors also found leaders have failed to implement appropriate governance arrangements for the apprenticeship programme, and managers and leaders do not have sufficient oversight of the quality of training.

In addition, leaders do not plan and manage the programme effectively, while managers do not collect, analyse or use data sufficiently well to inform their curriculum planning or to drive improvements.

However, the regulator found the majority of apprentices develop “substantial new practical skills” and make an effective contribution to the trust early in their programmes.

“Apprentices display professionalism and maturity in their roles, and most have aspirations to progress in their career within the healthcare sector,” the report said.

“They enjoy their jobs and have pride in their work and role as a healthcare professional.”

Additionally, they were found to receive “useful on-the-job training” and to gain good practical skills and knowledge while working on the wards with medical staff.

Jon Harding, head of organisational development and education at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Poole Hospital is highly regarded for the career development of its staff.

“We note the Ofsted report published this week and will be working with all our partners, including the Education and Skills Funding Agency, to determine the way forward so that we can ensure the quality of the learning experience for all the apprentices on programme.”