Large accountancy apprenticeship provider excels with grade 1 in first Ofsted inspection

First Intuition Cambridge Ltd rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted in all areas in its first full inspection

First Intuition Cambridge Ltd rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted in all areas in its first full inspection

17 Aug 2022, 11:32

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An independent learning provider training more than 600 accountancy apprentices has been given an ‘outstanding’ rating after its first full inspection by Ofsted.

The education watchdog visited First Intuition Cambridge Ltd in June, and in its report published today gave the firm grade ones in all areas.

At the time of the visit just over 600 apprentices were in training across levels 3, 4 and 7 qualifications, with more than half on level 7 accountancy taxation courses.

Amy Forrest, managing director of First Intuition Cambridge, said: “We are incredibly proud, it’s such an achievement to receive that grade, and to have our apprenticeship programmes recognised as outstanding is fantastic.

“Receiving the outstanding rating demonstrates the brilliant impact that these programmes have for our employers and our apprentices.”

The inspectors reported that “apprentices feel proud to be part of the accountancy profession,” with Forrest citing the firm’s relationship with employers that help design the programmes as a key part of that.

Amy Forrest managing director of First Intuition Cambridge Ltd said she was delighted with the Ofsted grade

The report said the mutual respect from staff allowed learners to take responsibility for their studies, noting that they “develop important skills such as preparing to deal with difficult clients and prioritising work”.

It said that “extensive support” is provided to prepare apprentices for end of course assessments, while workplace mentors are “highly valued” by learners to “rapidly improve their skills”.

Inspectors said that most tutors continue to work as accountants so that up-to-date industry standards are maintained.

Tutors are aware of individual training needs for apprentices, inspectors said, adding that they used “highly effective teaching strategies”.

The firm started 13 years ago, with Forrest saying the firm was about “continuous improvement,” having managed to grow its numbers while maintaining the quality of teaching. It began delivering apprenticeships for the first time in 2017.

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  1. A grade one is great but the business model also looks outstanding.

    These are all part of the same group:

    Each entity has its own UK provider reference number and takes on apprenticeship starts each year, though their public facing webpages project a single entity. On the list of declared subcontractors, there also appears to be a lot of activity between them as they subcontract to each other…

    7 Ofsteds, 7 lots of ESFA contract management, 7 lots of ILR processing, funding audits etc etc.

    The model also appears to bear a very close resemblance to old BPP company structures. So those prospective accountants out there in discussion forums pondering whether BPP or First Intuition is best may just be chasing the illusion of choice.

    But, perhaps more interesting is that nationally 300 of 7000 annual starts on Level 7 accountancy and tax apprenticeships are by under 19’s, contrasting with only 30 of 12000 starts being under 19s across all the other 31 standards available at Level 7 combined.

    That’s a deep concentration of the most gifted 18 year olds on the equivalent of Masters degrees in just one subject – great for the accountancy and tax profession, but imagine if some of that talent applied their brain power elsewhere. Luckily, the availability of apprenticeships at level 7 means we have visibility of it and can start to think about what it means…

    • Gareth S

      Not so! First Intuition as far as I’m aware have no “umbrella” entity that owns/runs all separate entities. The company was set up as a franchise with totally separate owners/directors but a shared vision.

      This seems like it is a much more difficult model to achieve repeated Outstanding ratings since they are all completely separate companies without one owner/larger corporation in charge.

      My experience was they are far more personal/local/learner centred than BPP, but I may be wrong

      • Perhaps take a look at companies house data, the director links between companies and the striking similarity to old BPP structures.

        Franchises that mainly subcontract to others in the ‘group’. A shared public facing website…. hard to view that as them being separate entities.

  2. Great to see word is spreading about First Intuition’s Outstanding Ofsted inspections. FI Ltd and FI Chelmsford have also been rated as Outstanding, covering programmes offered in the following locations:

    – Birmingham
    – Cambridge
    – Chelmsford
    – London
    – Manchester
    – Norfolk
    – Peterborough
    – Suffolk

    Outstanding is not only the highest possible Ofsted rating but First Intuition is currently the only level 7 accounting provider to achieve this.

    First Intuition staff go above and beyond to put students and clients at the heart of everything they do. It is this focus on people, along with dedicated apprentices and clients who care, that has led to First Intuition’s success.