Apprenticeships, Ofsted

Contracts risk for provider after Ofsted finds ‘students’ who never studied with the firm

Ofsted inspectors also found apprentices without jobs at the firm

Ofsted inspectors also found apprentices without jobs at the firm


An east London training company is at risk of multiple contract terminations after a damning Ofsted report found students hadn’t even heard of the provider.

Inspectors visiting Waltham International College (WIC) in July found “too many learners whom inspectors spoke to had not heard of WIC” and a “high proportion” said they “had not studied a course at the college”.

Inspectors also found apprentices without jobs.

The private training provider was founded in 2010 and provides adult education programmes for the Greater London Authority and at least one other mayoral combined authority – Liverpool City Region, as well as level 3 advance learner loan-funded courses and apprenticeships.

But following the publication of an ‘inadequate’ inspection report on Thursday, mayoral combined authorities which had contracts with the college have said those are under review alongside the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London, which gave WIC a contract worth nearly £3 million to use between 2019 and 2023, said: “Following the Ofsted inspection, City Hall is working with the provider to review the position and to determine next steps.”

Liverpool City Region announced in May that WIC was one of a number of out-of-area providers to have secured a portion of its £70 million contracts pot from the adult education budget, but said the provision with Waltham did not go ahead at the start of term.

A spokesperson for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said: “Waltham International College’s inspection and provisional grade took place prior to the start of the 2022/23 academic year. As soon as we learnt of the provisional inspection results we suspended learner starts and any delivery within the Liverpool City Region, prior to the start of the academic year.  

“No learners have been left without provision as a result of this action and we are discussing our future intentions with the provider now the inspection report has been published.”

FE Week understands the Department for Education and Education and Skills Funding Agency are in discussion with Ofsted about the findings, and considering options. Ofsted said it is for the funding agency to consider what action it wishes to take. The ESFA had contracts worth £1.6 million with WIC in 2021/22.

At the time of the inspection, WIC had 113 adult learners, 77 of whom were on an English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) course, as well as 104 apprentices on qualifications such as digital marketing, care, hospitality, business and management.

On rail engineering courses, Ofsted inspectors said attendance was not good enough on the level 1 course, and on the traineeships suitable work placements were not secured which left learners lacking the opportunity to work on live tracks.

For digital marketing and junior content producer apprenticeships, Ofsted said that “leaders have not checked thoroughly that employers have suitable experience of working in these sectors,” and most apprentices “do not value their training”.

Furthermore, it said that for digital marketing apprenticeships, “too many apprentices are not in employment, are self-employed or undertake significant other duties at work such as being waiters in restaurants”.

Inspectors said online ICT courses were not taught in sufficient detail, and “too many learners cannot recall what they have been taught”.

The report said that feedback on learners’ and apprentices’ work was “not good enough” on most courses.

In addition, it said leaders “have not ensured that learners and apprentices have a secure understanding of the dangers of radicalisation and extremism”.

WIC did not respond to requests for comment.

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One comment

  1. john Baptiste

    Totally agree. I encountered this place and felt sorry for the students shoe horned into a qualification that they are not ready to take. Using public tax money and government purses is not acceptable when the private owners are not qualified and are profiteering from this – by reducing costs employing barely qualified lecturers and staff teaching without degrees.