A leadership and management apprenticeship provider has been judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted after it was found apprentices enrolled just to accredit their existing knowledge and skills.
We Are Momentum, established in late 2020 and based in Knutsford, Cheshire, was slammed by the watchdog in its first full inspection, undertaken in late June and published today.
The provider trains almost 100 apprentices across levels 3, 4 and 5 in team leading, associate project management and operations management.
Ofsted reported that too few apprentices complete their apprenticeship on time, too many leave early, and too many took breaks-in-learning or fell behind.
Inspectors also found that too many apprentices – especially its level 4 and 5 learners who already have significant leadership and management experience – do not gain “substantial new knowledge, skills and behaviours” and are instead simply enrolling to get accreditation for knowledge and skills they already have.
A spokesperson from We Are Momentum told FE Week that the report was “disappointing and concerning” and the provider is in the process of conducting a “comprehensive” internal review and liaising with external experts over its curriculum.
“We believe in the principle of continuous learning,” the spokesperson said. “Some apprentices come to us with a certain foundation; our goal is to help them build upon that. We are revisiting our curriculum and liaising with external experts to ensure that our programmes are both challenging and rewarding, enriching the skillset of every apprentice who joins us.”
Inspectors also found that the provider’s leaders do not assess the English and mathematics capabilities at the beginning of the apprenticeship, and development coaches do not monitor those skills, causing learners to fall behind.
“In too many instances, apprentices who require English and mathematics qualifications are not informed of this until late in their apprenticeship. This causes apprentices distress and hinders their progress,” the report said.
Regarding development coaches, who are said to be subject matter experts in the report, the watchdog said that they do not have teaching qualifications nor benefit from training activities to keep their sector knowledge up to date.
“As a result, too many apprentices cannot remember and recall what they have learned,” the report said.
Ofsted did however report that most apprentices who stay on programme “enjoy their apprenticeships and display a good attitude to learning”.
Development coaches also ensure that apprentices benefit from a “culture where everyone values and appreciates each other, fostering an inclusive and supportive atmosphere”.
Private providers that receive an ‘inadequate’ from Ofsted typically have their apprenticeship contract with the Education and Skills Funding Agency terminated.
We Are Momentum’s spokesperson said it was “premature” to speculate on any decision from the ESFA.
“We respect the insights provided by the Ofsted report and take them very seriously. While the report is a setback, it’s also an opportunity for us to introspect, evolve, and elevate our training programs,” the spokesperson said.
“We appreciate the patience and understanding of all our stakeholders as we work through these challenges. Our commitment to providing exceptional apprenticeship experiences remains unwavering, and we are confident in our ability to bounce back stronger from this.”