Another 6 new providers suspended from taking on apprentices

Six more new providers have received temporary bans on recruiting apprentices following early Ofsted inspections that found them making poor progress.

Since October 2018, the watchdog has been carrying out monitoring visits at every directly-funded provider which won a contract to deliver training after April 2017.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency has released an updated version of the register of apprenticeship training providers for May, which shows 33 providers are currently banned from taking on apprentices.

Six providers were added to the list this month, including: Cogent Skills Training, EMA Training, Moor Training, Piper Training, Right Track Social Enterprise, and Vogal Group.

Each of them had been found to have made ‘insufficient progress’ in at least one area during an Ofsted monitoring visit.

They will now be prevented from recruiting apprentices until they have received a full Ofsted inspection and been awarded at least a grade three for apprenticeship provision.

The providers can still carry on delivering training to their existing apprentices, but cannot train new apprentices as a subcontractor, or take on new apprentices as a subcontractor.

Cogent Skills Training, which had 106 apprentices at the time of inspection and specialises in life and industrial sciences, was found to have made poor progress in ensuring the provider is meeting all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision, with inspectors reporting “too many” learners were “accomplishing little more than accrediting existing skills”.

EMA Training was marked down by Ofsted in the same area, because its 28 apprentices, who are training to be train conductors and drivers for Southeastern Trains, received no time during work hours to develop skills and behaviours after an extended period of training at the start of their programme.

Managers at Moor Training, which specialises in areas such as plumbing, heating and gas engineering, were found to have not kept accurate information on apprentices’ start dates, of which it had 44, whether apprentices had withdrawn from training, and the number of learners who had achieved their apprenticeships.

Piper Training, an arm of the trade association the Building Engineering Services Association, had 123 apprentices at the time of the inspection on heating and ventilation courses.

It has been barred after leaders were found to have concentrated too much on contractual compliance and financial and business developments, and not enough on ensuring employers know how to support their apprentices.

Its leaders were criticised in the report for not observing any teaching in the subcontracted colleges where most of its apprentices are taught, and for not checking whether subcontractors’ plans for learning are clear and logical.

Training director Tony Howard previously told FE Week they had had ongoing issues with subcontractors not submitting enough information for Piper Training to monitor progression.

“We are working with our sub-contractors to drastically improve on their capability to report at the frequency we are requiring,” he added.

Ofsted reported the quality of training received by 23 apprentices at childcare, business administration and customer services provider Right Track Social Enterprises did not always take adequate account of an apprentice’s job tasks and responsibilities, or the specific needs of employers.

And inspectors found staff at Vogal Group, which had 18 apprentices on engineering and manufacturing courses, did not have “appropriate awareness” of safeguarding, its policies of which were out-of-date, and apprentices only had a basic understanding.

Ofsted has started conducting full inspections of new apprenticeship providers that were previously banned from taking on new starts following ‘insufficient’ monitoring reports, and awarded them grades that allows them to start recruiting again.

The first was at Watertrain Ltd, which was rated ‘requires improvement’ in February. Since then, other turnaround providers have included Unique Training Solutions, rated ‘good’ in April, and Mitre Group, also rated ‘good’ in April.

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