Inspection section: Series of grade 4s released following pause in publication of Ofsted reports

Multiple training providers are now facing contract terminations

Multiple training providers are now facing contract terminations


Multiple training providers are facing contract terminations after Ofsted published a backlog of ‘inadequate’ inspection reports.

Concerning findings were reported in a series of grade four reports this week. These typically lead to the government cancelling the providers’ funding agreements.

Apprentices at Risual Limited were found to have had no formal teaching in over 12 months and were relying on the internet to research the skills and knowledge they felt they needed to work.

Apprentices at London Vocational College Ltd were not aware they were in fact apprentices. The report noted staff “do not have an accurate list of which learners and apprentices are in learning and training … therefore, they cannot assure themselves that learners and apprentices are safe.”

Alarming safeguarding practices were also flagged up in Ofsted monitoring visits. A series of ‘insufficient progress’ reports for new providers mean they will be suspended from taking on new apprentices.

Leaders at The Employers Forum Ltd, for example, do not know whether concerns from vulnerable adults “are being recorded and reported accurately”.

Ofsted paused the publication of their reports during the 10-day mourning period after Queen Elizabeth II’s death on September 8, leading to a backlog of reports.

More than 50 FE and skills inspection reports have been released since Ofsted lifted the pause on Wednesday, which included six ‘inadequate’ reports. But the backlog also showcased many positive results, including two ‘outstanding’ and 16 ‘good’ full inspections. Ten reports produced ‘requires improvement’ judgements. The rest were monitoring visit reports.

Learners unaware that they were in fact apprentices

The ‘inadequate’ inspections included two major adult care training providers: Care First Training Ltd and Mercia College Ltd.

Mercia College Ltd has just under 300 apprentices, most of which work in the adult care sector. Care First has 859 apprentices and 70 adult learners in training, mostly in adult care or early years.

The inspection at Mercia College Ltd noted the standard of teaching was “not sufficient to ensure that apprentices were actually learning, most of what they were learning was coming from their day-to-day experiences at work”.

At Care First Training, the inspection found “trainers rely too much on apprentices learning topics on their own. As a result, most apprentices struggle to complete their work within set deadlines”. It noted that learners’ access to English and maths support was limited, causing a lack of confidence in their ability to produce high-quality work. 

However, Mercia College Ltd did score ‘good’ in behaviour and attitudes and personal development, with the report observing that “leaders, managers and staff pay good attention to their apprentices’ personal health and well-being.”

Alongside these two large care apprenticeship providers, four other providers were found to be providing ‘inadequate’ training to apprentices: Beats Learning, IC Training Centre (ICTC), London Vocational College Ltd and Risual Limited.

London Vocational College Ltd has about 140 apprentices and 664 adult learners, all funded by the Greater London Authority.

The report picked up on an overall poor delivery of training and, in one instance, some level 2 apprentices were not aware they were even apprentices when they were asked.

Inspectors found instances where learners’ and apprentices’ work were plagiarised and said, “it is unclear how much knowledge and skills learners and apprentices develop”. 

Alarmingly, the report noted how assessors allowed learners and apprentices to choose what they learned and when. It noted that to improve, leaders “must ensure they have an accurate oversight of the number of learners and apprentices in learning so they can ensure they are safe.”

Beats Learning received an equally startling report. Many of its 252 apprentices feel demotivated and lack enthusiasm due to their lack of progress, which leaves them concerned about their futures. Most apprentices leave the industry they are training in during their apprenticeships.

ICTC is training 68 apprentices and scored ‘inadequate’ in all areas apart from behaviour and attitudes. Although apprentices have positive relationships with staff, they are not making good enough progress because employers do not facilitate them receiving their off-the-job training time. ICTC were called out for not enforcing this.

Level 4 cyber security technologist apprentices at Risual Limited, which has 65 in total, did not receive any formal teaching in over 12 months and had to rely on the internet to research the skills and knowledge they felt they needed to work.

Safety alarm raised at new independent specialist college

Elsewhere, new providers had their first or follow-up monitoring visit outcomes published. Of these, APT Health and Safety Training, Future Horizons Leeds and The Employers Forum were found to have made ‘insufficient progress’.

Future Horizons, an independent specialist college, gained funding in May 2021. It provides training for 19 learners aged between 19 and 25 with profound, severe and moderate learning difficulties, and autism spectrum disorder.

The report said “learners, parents and carers are not fully informed about opportunities, and learners are not fully prepared for life after college”. It also stated staff were not trained properly in evaluating learners’ needs or how to recognise or record learners’ progress and achievements. In a few cases, learning outcomes were not age-appropriate as it referenced terminology such as “toys” and “hide and seek”. The report concluded that “teachers do not evaluate learning sufficiently well”.

APT Health and Safety Training has been delivering apprenticeships since February 2021, and has 32 apprentices, with around 27 apprentices on the level 3, and all aged 19 or above mostly delivering level 3 safety, health and environmental technician standard and level 2 metal recycling general operative standard.

Ofsted report roughly a third of the apprentices enrolled on the safety, health and environmental technician standard have not continued, and recently managers withdrew some eight apprentices from the programme. The inspection said: “The management of the apprenticeship provision is too informal … leaders have not held managers to account or identified and tracked areas for improvement quickly enough.”

The Employers Forum Ltd received its second ‘insufficient progress’ monitoring report in a row. Its most recent report found that the company had not done enough to improve upon the safeguarding concerns in the previous monitoring visit.

Although the new safeguarding lead had some safeguarding training, inspectors said that contemporary risks of criminal exploitation or modern slavery were not covered. Leaders do not know what safeguarding issues vulnerable adults raise with staff nor do they know whether concerns are being recorded accurately.

The backlog includes two outstanding inspections from First Intuition Reading and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

First Intuition Reading offers its 385 apprentices training in accountancy and taxation, and reported confident and enthusiastic students receiving excellent training from skilled staff in an environment where they thrive.

Leeds Teaching Trust’s six apprentices were found to “receive high levels of care and support from the staff at the trust” with high-quality teaching in dental care.

Other positive inspections included ‘good’ grades for Thornbeck College – North East Autism Society, Total Training Provision Limited, Watertrain Limited, Springfields Fuels Limited, Reed Business School Limited, Middlesex University and Gem Partnership Limited.

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