Ofsted has rated a major home healthcare employer-provider ‘inadequate’ across the board, in a report that condemns its “woefully low expectations”.
Nestor Primecare Services, which was previously rated as ‘requires improvement’ overall, was inspected in September – and today’s excoriating report finds “no key strengths”.
The company employs 125 apprentices, of whom “approximately a quarter were on a learning break” at the time of the inspection.
Inspectors were highly critical of teaching, assessing and apprentices’ progress, and raised grave safeguarding concerns.
“Managers set woefully low expectations for their assessors and these, in return, fail to motivate apprentices to complete their learning programme on time and to a high standard,” it stated.
Its assessment practice as a whole is “insufficiently rigorous”.
“In too many cases, assessors wrongfully accept and sign off, as valid and complete, work which is incorrect, or of a poor standard. For example, an apprentice described a sprained ankle as an example of a localised infection requiring antibiotics,” the report found.
Leaders and managers were also guilty of an “abject failure” to challenge themselves and their teams to deliver high standards.
“Teaching, learning and assessment are weak; they do not support apprentices to progress well and to acquire new occupational skills and knowledge,” it went on.
Management had “overlooked the importance” of keeping apprentices safe, and been slow to ensure that all leaders have taken required safeguarding training.
“Apprentices do not prioritise their learning; too often they miss appointments with assessors and/or do not complete their work on time,” inspectors decided. “As a result, many apprentices have long periods of time when they do not submit their work.”
Nestor Primecare Services, which was allocated £550,000 by the Education and Skills Funding Agency for 2016/17, was bought two years ago by the Aurelius investment group and now trades as Allied Healthcare.
Most apprentices are studying health and social care, with others on administration and business management programmes.
The report said the company, which has been approached for comment, must “radically develop” the quality of its teaching, learning and assessment.
Managers should “immediately implement a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the existing safeguarding arrangements, ensuring that all weak processes are swiftly strengthened, paying particular attention to the urgent need to raise staff’s and learners’ awareness of the dangers of extremism and radicalisation”.
FE Week reported last June that firms taking on apprentices had been advised by the AELP to stick “to their core business” and use experienced providers after Citroën UK was humiliated by an ‘inadequate’ rating of its own.
Ofsted was then forced in February to deny it would reduce its inspections of apprenticeships employer-providers to mere “samples”.
According to briefing notes seen by FE Week from a stakeholder event at the Institute of Apprenticeships, Ofsted was slated to “continue to inspect training providers and sample inspection of employers”.
But confronted with our findings, a spokesperson insisted that it is “not planning to change how we inspect training providers and employers”.