Ofsted watch: Mega apprenticeship provider making ‘significant progress’ after grade three

A major financial services provider to high-profile employers and over 3,500 apprentices, has made ‘significant progress’ following a previous bad result, while others scored reasonably well in this week’s run of Ofsted reports.

Kaplan Financial, which also has 10 adult learners and 185 advanced learner loan learners, was downgraded to a grade three last year, but has impressed inspectors by making ‘reasonable progress’ in three areas and ‘significant progress’ in improving the management of underperforming subcontractors.

“Leaders and managers have been highly effective in improving the quality of learning that apprentices receive through subcontracting arrangements,” inspectors wrote.

The independent training provider, which has worked with employers including British Airways, Eurostar and Morrisons Supermarkets, has gone about these improvements by cutting the number of organisations it subcontracts with from nine at the last inspection, to two.

Kaplan has also decided to only deliver apprenticeships in the future, so has been incrementally reducing its adult learning provision, while it implemented a “more rigorous” due diligence and associated operating procedure for remaining providers.

This, the report reads, is to ensure “the quality of education and training for these apprentices is of at least the same standard as that provided by Kaplan”.

Independent training provider The Number 4 Group also performed well, scoring two ‘significant progress’ ratings and one ‘reasonable progress’ rating in its Ofsted report.

Four learners were enrolled in construction skills for building site operatives and door supervisor courses at the time of the inspection, and inspectors wrote: “Managers have successfully designed programmes that allow learners to gain the relevant accreditation.”

Particular praise was paid to the senior management team for their “clear vision” of how their provision can help unemployed adults to return to the job market.

The provider works with JobCentre Plus, charities and employers to address regional skills shortages, and it uses government funding “effectively” to overcome learners’ economic and social barriers.

Safeguarding is given a “very high priority” by leaders and managers, and all staff are fully trained in the area.

It wasn’t all good news however, as N&B Training Company, which offers level 2 adult courses and apprenticeships at levels 2 and 3 to 440, dropped from grade two to three this week.

Inspectors found leaders had made slow progress in handling recommendations from the previous inspection report, so too few apprentices benefit from high-quality feedback to improve their work.

Additionally, staff lack confidence in developing learners’ knowledge of the dangers of radicalisation and extremism.

It is also reported the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is not consistently good for all learners, which has been blamed on high staff turnover negatively impacting upon learners’ progress.

One example the watchdog picked out was the business apprentices who are making less than expected progress, while leaders, managers and training coordinators are “unclear” about how many of those apprentices have a substantial amount of work to complete to achieve their apprenticeship.

But the provider was praised for the high timely achievement rates of apprentices in 2017/18 and for the design of programmes meeting employers’ needs “effectively”.

Templegate Training Academy CIC earned two ‘insufficient progress’ and one ‘reasonable progress’ ratings from an early monitoring visit of its provision to 19 adult learners.

The provider’s main curriculum intent was until recently to provide functional skills to ethnic minority learners, but inspectors wrote: “Leaders and managers are not meeting the learning needs of local minority ethnic communities” as per the stated aims and ambitions.

The major functional skills programmes on offer had ceased by the time of the inspection; the provider’s remaining curriculum offer was small and directed at other learner groups.

Templegate’s designated safeguarding lead is unable to provide appropriate support to any at-risk learners, as they had not developed any links with relevant external agencies.

But leaders do demonstrate a good understanding of British values, and learners on the provider’s diploma programmes gain skills and knowledge for their intended careers.

Beats Learning Limited and Digital Marketing Mentor Limited scored three ‘reasonable progress’ ratings in early monitoring visits.

Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Beats Learning Limited 11/09/2019 01/10/2019 M N/A
Digital Marketing Mentor Limited 11/09/2019 03/10/2019 M N/A
Kaplan Financial Limited 30/09/2019 04/10/2019 M 3
N&B Training Company Limited 23/09/2019 30/09/2019 3 2
Templegate Training Academy CIC 12/09/2019 03/10/2019 M N/A
The Number 4 Group Limited 04/09/2019 30/09/2019 M N/A