A health and social care training provider has been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in a report that warns of “weak” management of apprenticeships.

The report out today on First City Training said it was not doing enough to improve the learning and training experience of students, and its apprenticeship provision came in for heavy criticism.

The ‘inadequate’-overall verdict was a fall from the grade three-overall rating it received after its previous inspection in January last year.

FCT said it was “disappointed” with the overall rating but added it was “reflective of endemic pressures felt across the sector.”

“The management of the apprenticeship programme is weak,” the report said of the provider, which has centres in Swindon, Salisbury and Bournemouth, and which was allocated almost £400,000 by the Education and Skills Funding Agency for 2016/17.

“Leaders and managers do not provide sufficient oversight of the programme, and do not have high enough expectations.

“Apprentices do not receive sufficient training away from their workplace and as a result they make slow progress towards completing their apprenticeships and improving their skills.”

Managers do not provide “sufficient oversight” of the apprenticeships programme, nor high enough expectations of their staff or learners.

And leaders’ actions to increase learners’ progress had meanwhile been “largely unsuccessful”.

Other concerns included poor support for learners trying to improve their English or mathematical skills, and a general failure to “ensure that the risks to learners of radicalisation and extremism are properly considered and combatted”.

First City Training was rated ‘inadequate’ for leadership and management, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, outcomes for learners and apprenticeships. It received a grade three for its adult learning and personal development, behaviour and welfare.

However, Ofsted described the level five higher apprenticeships in management of health and social care as “well managed”, saying they help apprentices “develop valuable skills and knowledge”, while the training materials provided for adult learners were praised for being clear, easily understood and capturing the “important principles of working in the care sector”.

A spokesman for FCT said: “We are disappointed to have received this overall rating, but feel that this is reflective of endemic pressures felt across the sector with regards apprenticeship training and in particular the continual cuts to the funding.

“We are pleased, however, at the strengths highlighted in the report including the skills, commitment and enthusiasm our learners have for the health and care sector and the people they look after.”

FCT is part of the larger First City Group and had 217 learners on funded programmes at the time of the inspection in September.

Ofsted has recommended that FCT implement a system to provide information to senior management on the achievements of learners, sets up systems for self-assessment, provides better teaching for professional, English and mathematical skills, undertakes reviews of learner progress and immediately implement the Prevent duty.

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