Lifetime Training’s grade 3 Ofsted report published

Inspectors criticise focus on financial performance and starts over quality

Inspectors criticise focus on financial performance and starts over quality

Ofsted has officially downgraded England’s largest apprenticeship provider to a grade 3, in a report published this morning that criticises the firm’s focus on financial performance and starts over quality.

Lifetime Training was also slated by inspectors for a lack of face-to-face teaching, off-the-job training, poor achievement rates and insufficient monitoring of delivery.

While some of the provider’s almost 20,000 learners are positive about their learning experience, others have become “disillusioned and demotivated”.

But Ofsted did identify good aspects of Lifetime Training’s offer, such as the relationship between most learners and coaches, a “valuable” collaborative approach with employers, and how apprentices make a positive contribution to their workplace through the skills they have developed.

FE Week revealed yesterday that the provider was set to go from a ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ rating overall following an inspection in May.

The report, published today, includes four ‘requires improvement’ judgements and two – for behaviour and attitudes and adult learning programmes – ‘good’ judgements.

Lifetime Training has recruited more apprentices and secured more levy funding than any other provider in the country for several years. With around 900 staff, the firm delivers to big-name employers mostly in hospitality and adult care including the NHS, KFC, McDonalds, Wetherspoons, B&Q and David Lloyd, as well as the civil service.

Most training and support sessions for learners currently take place online, but the company is gradually reintroducing face-to-face training following the pandemic.

Ofsted warned that too many apprentices find the mainly remote online learning approach “either difficult to access technically or too much like unsupported self-study”.

“They dislike the lack of face-to-face training. Too many of these apprentices have not had the continuity and consistency of support from coaching staff they have needed. Consequently, the rate and depth of these apprentices’ learning have been slowed.”

Ofsted also found that governance arrangements “are not wholly effective” because they are focused “primarily on monitoring aspects of the financial performance of the organisation, such as the number of new enrolments and those who have completed their learning”.

“Governors do not focus enough on challenging leaders to improve all aspects of the quality of provision,” today’s report added.

Inspectors said Lifetime’s newly appointed chair – Geoff Russell, who used who used to head up the Skills Funding Agency – has identified this weakness and has “firm plans to recruit more board-level expertise in quality improvement and to ensure leaders accord a higher priority to enacting whatever improvements are needed”.

Lifetime made several leadership changes just before Ofsted visited, including replacing the firm’s long-serving chief executive Alex Khan with Jon Graham who joined from JTL Training.

Ofsted found that leaders’ implementation of their curriculums “is not consistently good and does not sufficiently meet the needs of all apprentices”, while leaders have also “not been monitoring and evaluating the quality and impact of their provision with sufficient rigour or planning for improvement in ways that are specific and measurable”.

A minority of apprentices struggle to achieve functional skills qualifications in English or mathematics, which means they cannot start their end-of-course assessments.

Lifetime’s achievement rates have been falling steadily: in 2015/16 the provider recorded an overall apprenticeship achievement of 67.6 per cent, which declined to 55.3 per cent in the latest available provider-level achievement rate tables for 2018/19.

Ofsted said the provider’s leaders recognise that apprentices’ achievement rates have not been high enough in all apprenticeships, but so far, their actions to increase the proportion completing their qualifications “have had only a modest impact”.

Leaders had also “not until recently” recognised the “full extent to which apprentices have not all been getting the training they need in order to develop substantial new knowledge, skills and behaviours”.

One of the most concerning issues for Lifetime was proving that at least 20 per cent off-the-job training was being delivered to apprentices, which Cornish blamed on the pandemic.

Apprentices “too often” spend their own time completing their off-the-job training assignments at home outside of work hours, Ofsted found.

Cornish said: “We have already taken steps to address the feedback and are confident we will see a rapid and significant improvement in the areas identified during this inspection.”

Latest education roles from

German Lecturer – Variable Hours

German Lecturer – Variable Hours

South Staffordshire College

Senior Delivery Manager (Secondary English)

Senior Delivery Manager (Secondary English)

Ark

Receptionist and Admin Assistant

Receptionist and Admin Assistant

Ark Priory Primary Academy

Work Placement Officer

Work Placement Officer

Barnsley College

Accountancy & Finance Trainer

Accountancy & Finance Trainer

Barnsley College

Principal & Chief Executive Officer

Principal & Chief Executive Officer

Stoke on Trent College

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

#GE2024: Listen now as Let’s Go Further outlines the FE and skills priorities facing our new government

The Skills and Education Group podcast, Let’s Go Further, aims to challenge the way we all think about skills...

Advertorial
Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, colleges and schools can be confident that learners...

Advertorial
Sponsored post

Why we’re backing our UK skills ‘Olympians’ (and why you should too)

This August, teams from over 200 nations will gather to compete in the sticky heat of the Paris summer...

Advertorial
Sponsored post

Is your organisation prepared for a major incident?

We live in an unpredictable world where an unforeseen incident or environmental event could disrupt a Further Education (FE)...

Advertorial

More from this theme

Apprenticeships

UCAS scoring plan for apprenticeships draws criticism

Two university groups have criticised the admissions body's proposals to award points based on the length of the apprenticeship

Josh Mellor
Apprenticeships

Pay protected for NHS staff starting apprenticeships

Health workers were previously put off the programme because some employers expected them to take a wage cut

Josh Mellor
Apprenticeships, Skills reform

HTQs should be at front of Labour’s growth levy queue, say researchers

Public First models economic returns if level 4 and 5 technical quals are funded through a reformed apprenticeship levy

Billy Camden
Apprenticeships, Politics, Skills reform

IfATE loses 30 staff in DfE cash cuts

Second-in-command Rob Nitsch is among the departures

Billy Camden

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 Comments

  1. Now Hiring A Proofreader

    I beg of you, in your reporting please stop spelling ‘JD Wetherspoon’ as ‘Weatherspoons’.

    And if you’re feeling fruity, have a go at tidying up some of the other spelling mistakes in the article too e.g., Lifeitme.

  2. I Andrews

    Does this mean they cannot register smt new starts as is the situation with other providers that recurve this grade! I suspect not as they are one of the “special” providers. Another 3aaa waiting to happen. How does the ESFA allow this to happen over and over again.