apprenticeships

Peterborough Skills Limited has become the latest apprenticeships provider to be banned from taking on new starts after being reprimanded by Ofsted.

FE Week analysis shows the east of England-based firm is one of nine providers to have been slapped with suspensions on the register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP) in the past 12 months, after they were found making ‘insufficient
progress’ in a new provider monitoring visit.

Education and Skills Funding Agency rules mean any provider which receives at least one such rating from an early monitoring visit will be banned from taking on new apprentices until their rating improves, unless there is an “exceptional extenuating circumstance”.

Peterborough Skills Limited made ‘insufficient progress’ for its safeguarding arrangements, with inspectors finding staff did not have “sufficient knowledge” to deal with disclosures or see them through to a “reasonable resolution”.

Leaders and the provider’s board, the report read, have “insufficient oversight” of safeguarding and have not established “a culture of safeguarding apprentices”.

A spokesperson for Peterborough Skills Limited said it “respects the decision” of Ofsted and through the “support of an independent safeguarding consultant we have addressed all the findings and significantly improved our processes”.

“We would like to express that there has been no negative impact to the well-being of our apprentices on record,” they added.

Other providers that have been added to the suspended list were found to be making ‘insufficient progress’ because they are “not ambitious enough” for apprentices.

Failure to take into account prior learning is another common theme that trips up new apprenticeship providers who find themselves on the banned list, as is poor English and maths and off-the-job training.

Many are also criticised for slow progress, with one provider being caught out for having apprentices on programme for 12 months who only submitted one piece of written work.

FE Week analysis of the RoATP reveals a total of 21 providers are currently suspended (see full list below). Nine have been added to the list over the past 12 months, while the remaining 12 were on there prior to the first lockdown.

That is a decrease from the 46 providers banned at the time of this publication’s last stocktake in April 2020, at the very start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since then, 25 of the 46 providers have been removed from RoATP altogether.

Ofsted paused its inspection activity at the outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020 and only resumed new provider monitoring visits in March 2021, which may have impacted the pace of suspensions over the course of this year.

RoATP has been closed to new applicants since April 2020, but will open on Monday for its second refresh in two years.

The full list of banned providers is as follows (bold indicates they are new to the list):

 

[UPDATE: After this article was published evidence was provided to show that Aldridge Education has had its suspension lifted by the ESFA despite still being on the banned list on RoATP. Aldridge Education can therefore start new apprentices again.]