‘Good’ Ofsted report finally unveiled for recently incorporated FE college, after 90-day wait

Questions surround why publication of a ‘good’-overall Ofsted report was delayed until 90-days after the recently created FE college was inspected.

The report on Basildon-based Prospects College of Advanced Technology was published this morning, after it was inspected between November 15 and 18 last year.

Its performance is of key interest to the government and wider FE sector, as PROCAT was transformed from an independent training provider in to the first new FE college in more than 20 years back in 2014.

The 90-day gap is three times as long as the average 30 days between inspection and report being published.

That is thought to be the by far the second longest delay under the new common inspection framework, after a ‘good’ report on the nation’s largest college NCG was finally unveiled last September following a four-month hold-up.

Speculation has surrounding the cause of the PROCAT delay, with appeal over Ofsted’s initial judgements a likely source of delay.

When asked about this, principal Neil Bates (pictured right) said: “Any confirmation of grades comes at the end of the inspection and moderation process. You will also be aware that the process prior to publication of the report is confidential.”

He added: “We are very pleased with the judgements that have been made.

“We recognise this is our first inspection since incorporation and there are areas of the college that still require improvement, if we are to achieve our objective of being recognized as an outstanding specialist technical college.”

An Ofsted spokesperson told FE Week: “All inspection reports go through a moderation process before they are published and no judgement is confirmed, prior to the report’s official publication.”

PROCAT was rated good for effectiveness of leadership and management, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, apprenticeships, personal development, behaviour and welfare, and outcomes for learners.

The only ‘requires improvement’ headline field rating was for 16 to 19 study programmes.

The report recognised that “leaders work very productively with a range of high-profile and major employers to ensure that the apprenticeship provision is very responsive to industry requirements and skill shortages”.

Attendance levels were also said to be high, while “apprentices gain valuable knowledge and skills by working to high industry expectations and standards”.

The then-skills Minister Nick Boles visited Essex to mark the “milestone” transformation of Prospects Learning Foundation in to the first new FE college in more than 20 years, as reported in FE Week in August 2014.

His predecessor Matthew Hancock has confirmed four months previously that it was to become an FE college. The move had been exclusively revealed by FE Week the previous July.

The provider, which had just under 2,000 learners last academic year, first opened in 2007. It subsequently underwent an £11.5m expansion of its main Basildon training base.

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