Ofsted slams large employer provider with no apprenticeship passes - again

A large employer provider in the security sector that was suspended from recruiting apprentices last year has been rated ‘inadequate’ after Ofsted found none of its apprentices achieved their qualification.

Securitas UK said today it will challenge the education watchdog after it criticised leaders and managers for being “too slow” to improve the weaknesses identified during an early ‘insufficient’ monitoring visit it received in August, which found the provider forcing workers onto apprenticeships.

Ofsted’s new report found that “poor leadership and management” of the apprenticeship provision has since led to a third of learners withdrawing from the programme since January, with the number of learners dropping from 668 to 270.

Inspectors said “too few” apprentices gain new knowledge and skills or develop appropriate occupational behaviours to “achieve their learning goals or make progress at work”.

They concluded that apprentices at Securitas have all made “inadequate progress” and “none have achieved their qualification”.

Under the Education and Skills Funding Agency rules, any provider with an ‘insufficient’ rating from an early monitoring visit will be banned from taking on any new apprentices until they improve to at least a grade three in a full inspection.

Today’s ‘inadequate’ report means Securitas will be chucked off of the agency’s register of apprenticeship training providers, meaning it can no longer deliver the provision itself.

Securitas told FE Week it was contesting the report’s findings, as it believes it has made “important changes to improve the learning experience” since the early visit.

A spokesperson said: “We are deeply disappointed at the outcome of the Ofsted report and have lodged an official complaint which Ofsted have acknowledged and confirmed will be fully investigated.

“Following the initial Ofsted monitoring visit, we’ve made a number of important changes to improve the learning experience for our apprentices, including increasing the number of field assessors and restructuring our learning and development team.

“We have introduced a clear governance programme and with our new leaders and managers in place, these changes are beginning to have a beneficial impact, as acknowledged by Ofsted in their report.”

The employer has around 11,500 staff and provides protective services across the UK. Apprentices enrol initially as security officers and on successful completion of the apprenticeship can progress to the role of protective services officer.

Today’s report did acknowledge that the new leaders and managers had started to improve the experience for the apprentices who remain on programme, and that their actions were beginning to have a beneficial impact.

Leaders and managers have also introduced “suitable governance arrangements”, enabling them to receive constructive challenge and scrutiny.

However, Ofsted still accused Securitas of not managing the apprenticeship provision “effectively”, failing to assess accurately apprentices’ starting points and not having quality assurance processes in place to improve provision.

Inspectors added there was no evidence that the off-the-job training that is recorded is “relevant, or of good quality, or that apprentices can evaluate the benefit of it”.

But Securitas defended itself, saying that its apprentices are “recognised as being professional, courteous and respectful and their confidence in dealing with both internal and external customers is increasing”.  

“We understand the importance of expediating progress and will continue to work closely with an independent consultant to address the findings of the report,” its statement said.

The provider said 95 apprentices will be sitting their end point assessment and finishing the programme over the next three months.