Ofsted watch: Poor week for multiple new apprenticeship providers

New apprenticeship providers came in for some stinging criticism this week, with three found to be making ‘insufficient progress’ in early monitoring visits.

The only wholly positive report was for adult and community learning provider Sunderland City Metropolitan Borough Council, which climbed its way up to ‘good’ after being rated ‘inadequate’ in January 2018.

Since then, the council has wound down its apprenticeship provision and “elected members, leaders and managers have addressed rapidly the weaknesses identified at the previous inspection,” the education watchdog said.

Student achievement is now “very high”, and around two-thirds of learners move on to employment, work-related activities or study at a higher level after their programme has finished.

Leaders, staff, subcontractors, tutors and learners “promote a culture of pride, respect and tolerance which embraces the diversity and values of the service,” inspectors added.

One of the poor performing new apprenticeship providers was Took A Long Time Limited, an employer provider for the owners of the Wildwood and dim t restaurants. It was found to have made ‘insufficient progress’ in two areas of a monitoring visit.

Inspectors found its 58 apprentices self-assessed their skills and knowledge at the beginning of the course, and managers are not involved in this process to check its accuracy.

As apprentices are recruited from the company’s existing staff for chef and hospitality standards and already have experience of preparing and serving food within a commercial environment, they do not develop substantial new knowledge and skills.

Ironically, the 58 apprentices at Took A Long Time had not made sufficient progress in developing their English and maths skills.

Serial entrepreneur Angela Middleton’s new private provider, The Teaching and Learning Group, was also found to have made ‘insufficient progress’ in two areas of a monitoring visit.

Middleton said the provider, which has 24 apprentices, “has made substantial progress since the review”.

Adult and community learning provider Gloucestershire Enterprise Limited also did not perform well, being found to have made ‘insufficient progress’ in two areas of an early monitoring visit of its apprenticeship provision.

Leaders were “unaware” too many apprentices are not on track to complete their programme within the expected time, because systems to track apprentices’ progress have been implemented too slowly.

Although apprentices receive regular progress reviews, the large majority of these do not focus enough on how learners can improve their skills, knowledge and behaviour and apply them in the workplace.

All three ‘insufficient’ new apprenticeship providers are likely to soon be suspended from recruiting new apprentices, in line with ESFA rules, until they improve to at least a grade three.

Elsewhere, GTG Training bounced back from an ‘insufficient’ monitoring report it received in September 2018, and has now been rated ‘requires improvement’ across the board.

It should now have its apprentice recruitment suspension lifted by the government.

Since the previous inspection, leaders have worked “hard to improve the provision” for its 251 apprentices and have made “significant investments in staffing and resources that are beginning to address the weaknesses” previously identified.

The quality of training in the workplace is “good”, inspectors added.

However, managers were criticised for not coordinating apprentices’ on- and off-the-job training “effectively; as a result, too many apprentices make slow progress and do not achieve their potential”.

The provider also does not give English and maths a “high enough priority” and targets for learning and assessment are “not sufficiently specific and measurable”.

The final FE report published this week was for Tagadvance Limited, which has 75 apprentices and was found to have made ‘reasonable progress’ across the board in its first monitoring visit.

Its leaders and managers have developed an effective programme of on- and off-the-job training and apprentices receive “challenging” workplace projects and assignments to complete, through which they develop new skills on top of those needed for their jobs.

Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
The Teaching and Learning Group 18/04/2019 28/05/2019 M N/A
GTG Training Limited 10/05/2019 31/05/2019 3 M
Tagadvance Limited 29/04/2019 31/05/2019 M N/A

 

Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Sunderland City Metropolitan Borough Council 09/04/2019 28/05/2019 2 M
Gloucestershire Enterprise Limited 25/04/2019 31/05/2019 M N/A

 

Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Took Us A Long Time Limited 16/04/2019 28/05/2019 M N/A