Business training firm jumps two grades to ‘outstanding’

Provider leaders say apprentice and client feedback 'matters more than anything'

Provider leaders say apprentice and client feedback 'matters more than anything'

21 Nov 2023, 17:39

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A Birmingham-based independent training provider has been judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted after a “rapid” two-year turnaround. 

Inspectors have heaped praise on leaders of The NVQ Training Centre Ltd, trading as The Apprentice Centre, which had 161 apprentices on the books at the time of an inspection last month, for their “significant and rapid progress” in turning around the quality of training.

The report, published today, awarded top ‘outstanding’ grades for overall effectiveness, quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, leadership and management and apprenticeships. 

Each of those inspection judgements improved from ‘requires improvement’ when the provider was last inspected two years ago.

Leaders at the training company told FE Week their success was down to “solid relationships” and an “open and honest” approach to self-assessment.

Mark Webber, director of The NVQ Training Centre Ltd, said: “We have an open and honest approach to self-assessment, focusing on quality and monitoring to get to where we want to be. We build solid relationships with our clients and apprentices, and their feedback matters more than anything.”

Apprentices passing their planned end dates have “significantly reduced”, according to Ofsted’s report. This is down to a new “highly effective” quality review process which uses observations and other information to track apprentice performance. 

Ofsted also praised the The NVQ Training Centre leaders for providing their staff with healthcare insurance and an external confidential advice service. 

“As a result, staff feel well-supported by management and can readily approach them to raise concerns or seek assistance,” the report said.

Webber added: “Whilst it has been a difficult time for apprenticeships, our drive and focus on putting our apprentices and clients first has been at the forefront of our delivery. Our high staff retention and positive attitude has been vital for us to ensure our continuous improvement remains effective.”

At the time of the inspection, most apprentices were on the level 3 business administrator standard. The provider also offers the level 3 team leader or supervisor apprenticeship, the level 5 operations or departmental manager and the level 2 recruitment resource apprenticeships, among others in the business and logistics sector.

Inspectors found “highly motivated” apprentices and tutors promoting community activities, like charity fundraising, which “deepen the learning experience”.

Another part of the quality turnaround was improvements to employer relationships. The provider now “works closely with mentors to ensure that there are strong links between the on and off-the-job training and that the standard of teaching is of a consistently high quality”.

Tutors were “swift to recognise” apprentices who fall behind with their learning and put in extra sessions so apprentices “catch up quickly and achieve”.

Webber said: “There aren’t enough words to say how grateful and proud I am of everyone within the The NVQ Training Centre Ltd t/a The Apprenticeship Centre. 

“We are a fantastic team and the ‘outstanding’ grade recognises that.”

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