Ofsted watch: Mixed results for FE providers

It has been a varied week in the FE sector, with three providers receiving ‘good’ grades from Ofsted while three others were told they require improvement.

The education watchdog also published four monitoring visits, where two providers were found making ‘significant progress’.

Good news came in for the Open University and the University of Sheffield, who both received a grade two.

This was the first inspection the Open University has received, where it was praised for quickly developing apprentices’ clinical skills and knowledge that meet the high standards of employers.

Apprentices, of which there were nearly 165 on level 5 healthcare assistant practitioner and nursing associate courses, “benefit from a wide range of good support provided by university staff”.

This “helps them to overcome barriers to learning”.

The University of Sheffield improved from grade three to grade two after “successfully” creating an inclusive culture of high expectations throughout its apprenticeship provision.

Ofsted said most apprentices acquire valuable knowledge and skills that meet and sometimes exceed the needs of their employers.

Access Skills Ltd, a private provider which trains nearly 500 apprentices and work placed adults, was rated ‘good’ in its first ever inspection.

“Leaders have a clear strategy to train effective leaders and managers of care settings,” Ofsted found.

“They have developed highly effective partnerships with employers to achieve this aim.”

Two providers, Blackrock (London) Ltd and employer provider UK Power Networks (Operations) Ltd, received early monitoring visits, where they were found to have made ‘reasonable progress’ and ‘significant progress’ respectively.

At the time of the visit, Blackrock had six learners on programme of the 15 that started in 2017. Earlier this year, the provider told the Education and Skills Funding Agency that it will no longer continue as a levy-funded apprenticeship provider. The final six learners will complete their end-point assessments next month.

Ofsted found it had developed a programme that prepares apprentices “effectively”.

UK Power Networks was foudn making ‘significant progress’ across the board as its senior leaders provide “effective oversight” of the apprenticeship programme and “place a high priority on off-the-job training, which is of a very good standard”.

The employer currently has 69 apprentices. Inspectors said senior leaders and managers “ensure that the apprenticeship programme is central to their strategy to recruit and retain staff to meet the needs of the business now and in the future”.

Meanwhile, Ofsted said that Chichester College, which has a grade one rating and has since the last inspection gone through a merger with Central Sussex College, has made “significant progress in strengthening the leadership and management of the merged college”.

In the first monitoring visit since the merger took place in 2017, inspectors visited the group’s Crawley College campus.

They found the ethos of the college has changed to “putting students at the heart of everything done and to placing greater importance on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment”, and student achievement has improved has a result.

“Leaders and managers have improved the monitoring and tracking of student participation, progress, attendance and retention,” Ofsted said.

South Staffordshire College has made ‘reasonable progress’ since last year’s inspection, when regulators said at the time the overall effectiveness of its provision required improvement.

Since then, governors have increased their level of scrutiny and challenge of the actions being taken by leaders to support college-wide improvement, while the senior management team implemented a “suitably challenging” quality improvement plan. However, some of the actions taken by governors have been “too slow”.

Two private providers, Aspect Training Ltd and Quality Transport Training, were rated ‘requires improvement’ this week in their first inspections.

And Springboard Sunderland Trust, an adult and community learning provider, saw its rating decline from a grade two to a grade three.

Inspectors found leaders and managers have been “slow to react to he decline in the proportion of learners on study programmes who complete their courses and achieve their qualifications”.

They were also accused of not monitoring the progress of leaners on study programmes and the quality of the provision thoroughly enough.

GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade  
Chichester College 27/02/2019 29/03/2019 M 1 SSSS
South Staffordshire College 06/03/2019 27/03/2019 M 3 RRR

 

Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade  
Aspect Training Ltd 11/02/2019 25/03/2019 3 N/A  
Access Skills Ltd 26/02/2019 25/03/2019 2 N/A  
Quality Transport Training 05/03/2019 28/03/2019 3 N/A  
BlackRock (London) Limited 26/02/2019 26/03/2019 M N/A RRR

 

Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Springboard 05/03/2019 29/03/2019 3 2

 

Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade  
UK Power Networks (Operations) Limited 15/02/2019 28/03/2019 M N/A SSS

 

Other (including UTCs) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Open University 26/02/2019 28/03/2019 2 N/A
University of Sheffield 12/02/2019 26/03/2019 2 3