A council in the north has received top marks from Ofsted inspectors for its adult learning and apprenticeship programmes that “transforms” learners’ lives.
Leeds City Council was awarded an ‘outstanding’ grade across all categories for its “highly ambitious curriculum” that the watchdog said improves life chances and develops strong communities, in a report published today.
The inspection rating is an upgrade from its last full inspection in 2013 when it was awarded a ‘good’ rating.
This full inspection was carried out between December 11 and 14. At the time of inspection, there were 564 learners on non-accredited adult learning courses funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA). There were also 50 apprentices on standards in team leader, operations manager, chartered manager and senior leader, all of whom are employees of the council.
Inspectors commended leaders, managers and teachers for planning a curriculum that meets skills needs by supporting adults into employment or further study.
“They work very effectively with a wide range of stakeholders, including WYCA and employers such as the NHS, to gather information about local needs,” inspectors said. “They use this information very well to inform and develop their curriculum to keep it relevant and current.”
The report also said the council carefully selects subcontractors, who deliver “highly effective, bespoke programmes” to support vulnerable learners. One subcontractor, for example, works with learners attending a refugee education training centre based in a community with a high level of deprivation.
The council said in the academic year, nearly 3,500 Leeds residents were able to access community learning opportunities across the city through the service. Of those taking part, the pass rate is over 95 per cent and 80 per cent reported moving on to further learning or a job opportunity.
The council’s education provision also widened access to those with limited previous educational attainment – more than 62 per cent of learners have no previous formal qualifications.
Elsewhere in the report, learners and apprentices were significantly committed beyond the requirements of their programme and are involved in local community projects such as adult learners volunteering at local foodbanks and apprentices establishing a community youth football team, which used “their increased confidence in and understanding of project management and finance”.
Meanwhile, teachers were praised for “very purposeful” progress reviews with apprentices, which are linked to on- and off-the-job training.
The apprenticeship provision within Leeds City Council has a 100 per cent pass rate. The council said 57 per cent earn highest-level distinctions and 58 per cent progress to more senior roles since completing their course.
Regarding teacher development, Ofsted inspectors found leaders provide “highly effective and focused” staff training and development opportunities. “Staff, including those at the subcontractors, rapidly improve and sustain their high-quality teaching skills and practice,” the report added.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education said: “We are delighted with this rating, and glowing feedback. It shows the huge amount of work that has been put into this service to achieve such an excellent result. I am so pleased that the hard work of all our dedicated staff and partners has been recognised so congratulations and thanks to everyone involved.
“In Leeds, we are passionate about supporting people to thrive, be that through new skills or encouragement and education about career options and how to find and get into work.
“Our Future Talent Plan has played a large and successful part of the collaboration happening across the city to ensure we leave no one behind when it comes to skills and opportunities.”