Skills bootcamps

First bootcamps-only inspection results in glowing report

High praise for course that takes learners with no prior coding experience to 'becoming work ready within 20 weeks

High praise for course that takes learners with no prior coding experience to 'becoming work ready within 20 weeks

The first inspection of a training provider that solely delivers skills bootcamps has resulted in a glowing report.

Birmingham-based School of Code received two ‘significant’ and one ‘reasonable’ progress score in an early monitoring visit of its provision in a report published today.

Inspectors hailed the provider for implementing a “highly effective curriculum” for computing coding skills that “encourages the development of knowledge and skills in a creative and controlled online environment”.

The provider was one of the inspirations behind skill bootcamps, having offered the model for years before the government decided to fund them nationally from 2020.

Skills bootcamps have been out of Ofsted’s remit since their launch, but the watchdog was given powers to inspect them last month after a thematic review of their provision raised quality concerns. These inspections are not supposed to get underway until April 2023, however.

Ofsted told FE Week that it inspected School of Code ahead of this because its skills bootcamps are funded through the West Midlands Combined Authority’s adult education budget.

A spokesperson confirmed that skills bootcamps funded through the DfE’s national skills fund, which includes the vast majority of skills bootcamps, will be inspected from April 2023.

Skills bootcamps are flexible courses designed for adults to train in careers in areas of national skills shortage, such as construction, manufacturing and digital. The bootcamps, based around levels 3 to 5, also guarantee an interview with an employer.

School of Code was teaching 122 learners at the time of Ofsted’s inspection.

The inspectorate said the company’s leaders are “highly ambitious for their learners” having designed and implemented a course that aims to take learners with no prior coding experience to becoming work ready within 20 weeks.

Through biannual partnership boards, leaders work with employers to “identify current industry needs and to reflect on and improve activities such as ‘Demo Days’ where employers interact with learners”.

The “strong” relationships they nurture with employers result in learners having opportunities to apply for jobs in the sector.

Leaders also “support coaches to maintain and develop their coding skills well” and there is a board of governance that offers a “range of expertise, including education experience in coding, corporate training and finance”.

Chris Meah, chief executive of the School of Code, said: “We’re not your traditional FE provider. We’re an entrepreneurial, transformational, intensive course that started to help more and different types of people learn tech skills and launch great careers.

“The fact that Ofsted have given such an excellent review of what we’re doing is fantastic and shows we’re not only reinventing skills training with our free, 16-week bootcamp but also keeping and pushing standards higher as we go.”

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