Independent training provider rated ‘outstanding’ for work with NEET learners

A rapidly-expanding independent training provider has been praised for its work in improving the life chances of formerly NEET learners, as it is awarded the highest possible grade from Ofsted.

Inspectors from the education watchdog were full of praise for Midlands-based Nova Training, awarding it grade ones across the board following an inspection from July 11 to 14.

The training provider, which has a Skills Funding Agency allocation of £2.9m and an Education Funding Agency allocation of £6.2m for 2015/16, delivers study programmes and apprenticeships across 28 different centres in the West Midlands and East of England.

Inspectors found that learners at Nova “find a direction to their lives and careers”, with managers making a “significant contribution to improve the life chances of learners” and most progressing onto employment, further education or apprenticeships.

Their report said: “This is an outstanding achievement given the very low starting point for most learners on study programmes and the range of barriers many have faced in life, including offending, poor school attendance, exclusion, drug misuse, bullying and being in care.”

Students were able to “re-engage” in learning thanks to “skilful teaching and support from staff”.

Inspectors said: “Teaching and support staff share a strong commitment to enable their learners and apprentices to discover and achieve their full potential.”

Consequently, inspectors found that students “speak confidently about their work and make rapid progress towards achieving their qualifications”.

Apprentices “develop very good vocationally relevant skills that their employers value” while learners on study programmes – who make up the majority of Nova’s students – are “prepared exceedingly well for their employment and future careers” through tailored work experience.

Learners “develop their English and mathematics skills well” with all students progressing by at least one level in those subjects.

Despite many of them starting without a GCSE grade C, the “majority of learners pass their English and mathematics tests at the first attempt”.

“Highly individualised” learning programmes help to “inspire, engage and greatly motivate” learners with high needs, the report said.

Leaders and managers “focus strongly on the learners’ ability to achieve, and refuse to accept learners’ disabilities as a reason for non-achievement”, inspectors found.

The report also praised the provider’s “strong culture of continuous improvement” established by managers, which ensured that “those staff who are unable or unwilling to respond to the support provided and improve their practice, leave Nova’s employment”.

David Bucknall, Nova Training’s operations director, said he was “extremely proud” of the Ofsted verdict.

He said the provider had “striven to increase our success rates and the quality of our services” over the past 10 years, and had recently expanded to 10 new centres and had significantly increased its apprenticeship provision.

He said: “It is a credit to all of our staff who work tirelessly to support young people, ensuring that they have the very best opportunities to achieve and progress. Without a sustained collective and focused effort we would not have been able to achieve what we have today.”

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