Major charity and training provider Age UK has tumbled from a ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating.
The report out today rated Age UK as inadequate for effectiveness of leadership and management, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, outcomes for learners, adult learning programmes, apprenticeships, and traineeships.
The inspection team also returned ‘requires improvement’ verdicts on personal development, behaviour and welfare, and 16 to 19 study programmes.
The report said that “trustees do not hold senior managers sufficiently to account for the deterioration of learners’ outcomes and the inadequate quality of provision” and “trainers fail to motivate and challenge learners”.
It added that senior leaders and managers had “systematically failed to address the areas for improvement” highlighted in its previous ‘good’ across the board Oftsed report published in February 2013.
That report had recommended, for example, that Age UK should quickly identify “learners at risk of leaving early and take corrective actions to help them achieve their qualification” and “ensure that staff make better use of initial assessment to plan learning”.
The report out today was damning of apprenticeship training.
“Too many apprentices make slow progress and fail to achieve their qualifications. Learners’ performance has significantly declined since the last inspection,” it said.
The report also pointed out that more than a quarter of all learners fail to attend classes
“Too many learners do not demonstrate the employability skills that they are developing when they attend sessions at Age UK,” it added.
Of the approximately 3,500 learners with the provider, approximately 2,300 are on apprenticeships, 100 are on traineeships, 613 are full-time learners on the 16–19 study programme, and 480 are adult learners, mainly on part-time employability programmes, according to the report.
It warned that “staff do not develop learners’ English and mathematical skills effectively across all programmes of study”.
However, it identified “good pastoral support” as a strength with Age UK’s provision.
“Learners have good access to warm and welcoming learning centres complemented by a good range of training resources,” it said. “Age UK is consistently good at supporting some extremely vulnerable learners who have significant difficulties with learning, for example, care leavers, young parents, and adults with identified mental health difficulties.”
The report added that in order to improve “trainers should improve progress reviews for apprentices, and challenge individual learners to make better progress through the use of specific learning targets, which are reviewed carefully and regularly”.
It also, for example, called for managers to implement “effective strategies” to improve teaching, learning and assessment, by challenging all staff to develop their skills, and “creating a more professional approach to the observation of teaching, learning and assessment”.
Managers should also, the report said, take “decisive action” to improve the teaching of functional skills in English and mathematics to apprentices.
A spokesperson for Age UK said: “We are very disappointed with the results of the Ofsted inspection which took place in November 2015.
“We have immediately taken the decision to review our processes and put an action plan in place to ensure our processes are scrutinised effectively. We are now working extremely hard to make improvements and address the concerns raised by inspectors.
“Our priority is to make sure that our training activities deliver the highest standards. Age UK’s trustees and directors will closely supervise the actions and performance of Age UK Training to ensure that standards improve quickly and that this improvement is sustained.”