Darlington-based training provider Baltic Apprenticeships has landed its first ever ‘outstanding’ report from Ofsted.
Inspectors praised the provider for its “well structured and carefully prepared” curriculum in an inspection in August, which was published today. Baltic Apprenticeships also received plaudits for making “substantial improvements” to both its functional skills provision, and for tackling the number of apprentices dropping out of its courses.
Tony Hobbs, managing director at Baltic Apprenticeships, welcomed the report, and said the rating will “allow us to further bridge the gap between education and employment, and accelerate our ability to make a real difference to our learner’s lives and our employer’s skillsets”.
“Our focus on tech and digital apprenticeships isn’t just about generating job opportunities, it’s about creating solid career foundations and building the skills modern businesses need,” he added.
Baltic Apprenticeships was established in 2008 and has scored Ofsted ‘good’ ratings on three inspections before this latest one. The provider mainly delivers courses in ICT, software and digital marketing and has 1,370 apprentices on its books. It also has 272 adult learners on programmes in lean manufacturing, logistics and warehousing.
Ofsted said the “proportion of apprentices who complete their programme is improving rapidly” after the provider took steps to keep them on their courses, such as encouraging employers on the level three digital marketer course to increase their apprenticeship salaries.
The provider also now provides “intensive support” on English and maths, and offers “high-quality sessions” which are “highly valued” by apprentices.
Inspectors put the provider’s high-quality curriculum down to its “leaders’ extensive knowledge of the labour market and their close working relationships with external stakeholders”.
It also received praise for its close work with employers to match apprenticeships with their needs. For instance, the provider included content on additional operating systems to the curriculums on the level three and level four ICT standards after feedback from an employer.
Baltic Apprenticeships’ “accurate oversight” of its courses also came in for praise, with inspectors highlighting its constant dialogue with apprentices and teaching observations to improve the standard of training. Inspectors focused, too, on the provider’s early assessments of apprentices at the start of their courses, and their efforts to adjust training plans to the individual apprentices.
The quality of the courses also means apprentices and adult learners develop “significant new knowledge and skills”, while “most apprentices and learners” also achieve their qualifications.
Inspectors also noted “consistently positive attitudes” among the apprentices and learners, who are “highly committed to successfully completing their programmes”.
Apprentices become ‘active citizens’
Inspectors also highlighted the provider’s “comprehensive careers advice and guidance”, which leaves apprentices “confident” about the options available to them after their courses.
Ofsted further pointed to the provider’s “high priority” focus on “developing apprentices to become active citizens” via volunteering with local charities. For instance, ICT apprentices teach basic computing skills to older members of the community, while a group of apprentices at the provider also renovated a flat to welcome a Ukrainian family to the UK.
“As a result, apprentices have a strong sense of community and the importance of being a good citizen in modern Britain,” inspectors said.