Ofsted watch: Inspectors find learners unaware they are on an apprenticeship

A new provider that has learners on its programme who did not even know they were apprentices overshadowed a ‘good’ week for FE, especially colleges.

Welcome Skills Limited received three ‘insufficient progress’ grades in an early monitoring report, with inspectors finding leaders do not “design or plan” programmes that enable its 329 apprentices to make good progress or gain substantial new skills and knowledge.

The provider became a prime contractor in June 2017 and began recruiting its first apprentices in January 2018 after previously offering hospitality training to the Asian restaurant sector as a subcontractor. It now offers the level 2 hospitality team member and production chef standards.

Ofsted said more experienced apprentices, such as restaurant owners, “complete the same programme over the same time as those newer to the industry”.

Not all apprentices were “aware” that they are on an apprenticeship programme. Others “do not know when their end-point assessments will take place or that they can achieve high grades”.

Ofsted noted that no apprentice had completed an apprenticeship so far at the London-based provider, even though the programme should last 12 months.

However, Welcome Skills Limited was praised for a “strong commitment” to reach young people from the Bangladeshi community who have low educational attainment and “redressing staff shortages and helping to professionalise the sector”.

In contrast, Gateway Sixth Form College was graded ‘good’ in every category this week following a full inspection after previously being rated ‘requires improvement’.

The Leicestershire college offers programmes from level 1 to level 3 to 1,214 students.

The inspectorate reported the large majority of students were “very happy” with the education they receive and many said staff “go beyond their expectations and provide extra help and support”.

It also stated a high proportion of students participate in useful work experience.

Teachers understand what students are likely to do after college, and they “help them to develop their study skills alongside relevant subject knowledge”.

Warrington and Vale Royal College also moved up to grade two from grade three, receiving ‘good’ in every theme assessed except apprenticeships, for which it was graded ‘requires improvement’.

The general further education college formed following a merger in August 2017.

It has 1,440 learners on education programmes for young people, 1,634 on adult learning programmes, 75 learners who have high needs and 743 apprentices.

The report said the range of courses on offer at the college meets “local and regional needs very well”.

Inspectors found an “inclusive learning environment,” with learners and apprentices benefiting from using industry-standard equipment and those with high or special educational needs or disabilities receiving “early help and individual support”.

Most learners and apprentices “quickly develop” new knowledge, skills and behaviours, which prepares them “well” for further study, employment or promotion at work.

Chadsgrove Educational Trust Learning Centre, an Independent Specialist College which was previously graded ‘requires improvement’, made ‘significant progress’ in one assessed theme in its monitoring visit and ‘reasonable progress’ in the other three.

The Bromsgrove-based centre, which opened to provide provision for young people with a physical disability and/or complex medical need, currently has 10 students on programme working at pre-entry level to level 1.

The education watchdog found managers and tutors ensure that learners make “positive progress in terms of their readiness to participate in the community and their own healthcare, developing independence and moving into adulthood” and have “clear and personalised targets” for improvement.

The report stated most learners are now motivated and engaged in learning but that tutors do not focus sufficiently on the development of literacy for adulthood.

Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council, an Adult and Community Learning provider, maintained its grade two rating following a full inspection.

Inspectors said the adults studying courses “delight” in learning new knowledge and skills.

“They are enthusiastic about their courses and how they are improving their chances of getting a job.”

All of the other providers that received early monitoring reports this week scored ‘reasonable progress’ across the board.

These were: Harriet Ellis Training Solutions, Learnmore Network Limited, One To One Support Services Limited, Springfield Training Limited and The MTC – Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre Limited.

Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Harriet Ellis Training Solutions 26/09/2019 04/11/2019 M N/A
Learnmore Network Limited 16/10/2019 04/11/2019 M N/A
One To One Support Services Limited 03/10/2019 08/11/2019 M N/A
Springfield Training Limited 03/10/2019 06/11/2019 M N/A
The MTC – Advanced Manufacturing
Training Centre Limited
09/10/2019 05/11/2019 M N/A
Welcome Skills Limited 02/10/2019 08/11/2019 M N/A

 

Sixth Form Colleges (inc 16-19 academies) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Gateway Sixth Form College 11/10/2019 04/11/2019 2 3

 

Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council 11/10/2019 05/11/2019 2 2

 

Specialist colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Chadsgrove Educational Trust Learning Centre 16/10/2019 06/11/2019 M 3

 

General FE colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Warrington and Vale Royal College 11/10/2019 08/11/2019 2 3