A local authority in Yorkshire has been judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted after inspectors found no governance and a lack of “rigorous quality assurances” of its adult education and apprenticeships provision.
Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council was handed the lowest possible Ofsted grade in a report published this morning, a downgrade from a ‘good’ rating five years ago.
It joins Bedford Borough Council as the only local authority in England with an Ofsted grade to hold an ‘inadequate’ judgment.
Inspectors investigated the council’s education provision in a full inspection in December 2023 and found leaders did not have clear oversight of the quality of education, neither the quality assurance agreements in place, nor any governance arrangements.
At the time of inspection, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council had 158 learners on adult and community learning courses studying ESOL, ICT and functional skills English and mathematics. They also had 33 apprentices, the majority of which enrolled on a level 3 business administration programme. The council operates from Redcar and Cleveland College’s campus.
The watchdog slammed council leaders as “they cannot assure themselves that the programmes they offer are of a high standard”.
The inspection also revealed that the council does not have in place any governance arrangements and urged them to establish a structure so leaders are “supported, challenged and held to account”.
Inspectors criticised the provider for not identifying poor teaching practice when it occurred.
“Leaders have recently implemented a more rigorous process for reviewing the quality of teaching. However, they do not monitor the actions they set for tutors following reviews, so they do not know if tutors are improving their teaching practice,” the report said.
Tutors did not plan programmes according to learners’ and apprentices’ starting points, in some cases such as the level 3 business administration apprenticeship, tutors didn’t identify and plan relevant learning for apprentices who had higher-level qualifications.
Tutors also did not check the progression and understanding of those same apprentices on what they learn in their on- and off-the-job training.
The report highlighted that the provider was not ambitious enough for learners with special educational needs and high needs and did not train staff to support those learners.
Inspectors pointed out that the training provided to tutors is “often not based on current research”.
“As a result, tutors do not improve their practice, and a few feel unprepared for their teaching roles,” the report said.
Meanwhile, Ofsted praised learners’ and apprentices’ behaviour and their attitude to work.
“Tutors create calm and respectful learning environments that help learners to study productively. Learners and apprentices demonstrate positive attitudes to their learning and take pride in their work,” they added.
A spokesperson for Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, said: “We are disappointed by the outcome of the Ofsted inspection but fully appreciate that the issues raised do need to be addressed and we are determined to implement the required changes to get back to a good outcome for all learners. The new administration is committed to taking action on inherited historical issues.
“Action was already being taken in relation to the issues identified by the Ofsted inspection and remedial action has been taken, including drafting in additional support for current learners, as well as dealing with staff issues in the team prior to the Ofsted inspection.
“Whilst Ofsted noted this intervention and that progress had been made, it was judged to be not timely enough and therefore at the time of inspection inadequate progress was made. We are confident that we can continue to implement the required changes and improvements to get the service back to good and make sure that all learners have a good experience and achieve positive outcomes.”