Minister wrongly claims there are no grade four providers on new apprenticeships register


The written response from apprenticeships minister Robert Halfon to an open letter, complaining about the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers’ selection process, wrongly claimed that there are no ‘inadequate’-Ofsted rated providers on it. 

Team leader and assessor at Acacia Training, Anne-Marie Morris, wrote the open letter expressing her sense of injustice – as published in FE Week on March 16 – after her company failed to get a place on the RoATP despite its Ofsted ‘good’ rating.

Mr Halfon’s letter in response, which has now been shared with us (click here to download), mistakenly said: “I can confirm that there are no Ofsted grade four organisations listed on the new register.”

Exclusive FE Week analysis has infact found there are five colleges and one council on the new register – Amersham & Wycombe College, Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College, Essex County Council, Huntingdonshire Regional College, Mid-Cheshire College, and North Shropshire College (see more details in table below).

He added: “Where an organisation has a grade four overall, or a grade four for apprenticeships, they will not be allowed to enter the register.

“If an organisation listed on the register attains a grade four in the future, then they will be removed from the register immediately.”

The minster stressed that all providers were given a clear set of criteria they had to meet, through the RoATP application process.

Key elements under consideration were, he said “due diligence; financial health; capacity/ capability, and quality”.

He warned that “if a provider does not meet these criteria they cannot be on the register.

“Your organisation would have been provided with feedback as to why it did not make it onto the Register, to help you with any future applications.”

He added the SFA plans to re-open the register “very quickly, around 20 March”, to give further opportunities for providers to submit an application, “including brand new providers as well as those that were not successful in the first round”.

He subsequently confirmed to MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon that providers who feel aggrieved because they did not make it onto the new RoATP will be able to reapply from tomorrow.

Mr Halfon concluded by stressing that the new register “will not affect provision for any apprenticeship starts before May 1”.

“Existing arrangements will continue to apply for these learners, and providers will still be able to deliver training through their existing contracts,” he added.

The open letter from Ms Morris, which included complaint over the lack of a clear appeals process, was to Sue Husband, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, Skills Funding Agency.

“As you can imagine, everyone in the company is devastated as all the hard work and commitment we make towards supporting learners to achieve their apprenticeships to such a high standard appears to not have been considered at all,” she said.

“I personally would really like to understand how this can happen and why we as a company cannot appeal the decision.

“I, along with my colleagues, will surely lose the jobs we have been so proud of and the future of such a professional, caring company is now in doubt. We are only a small training provider with 70 staff members but this will have a devastating impact on all of our lives.”

A Department for Education spokesperson told FE Week it was a simple mistake in the letter. “We are clear that where an organisation has a Grade 4 for overall effectiveness they will not be eligible to apply for the register unless they have a 3 or above for apprenticeship provision. This is set out in the guidance. There are no providers on the register who have a grade 4 for apprenticeship provision.

“We will be contacting the recipient of the letter in question to clarify the Department’s position.”


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  1. Susan Stockton

    There is a list Register of Training Providers January 2017 who have undoubtedly gone through rigorous checks and many have years of proven ability in training and assessments yet thay have not been successful In gaining ROAPT status. Questions and answers can be interpreted in many ways but proven ability should out way this and has obviously been ignored in many cases. from what I’ve read even the Rt Hon Minister for apprenticeships and skills doesn’t seem to have answered Anne – Marie’s concerns correctly but he will still have his job at the end of the day.

    • Anne-marie Morris

      So true Susan, I’m sure he will sleep well at night unlike all of the providers Apprenticeships employers and employees that are affected by the flawed first round of the RoATP, they only need to use some common sense which is appearing unlikely!

  2. Steve Carrigan

    Why is it that a company that has been going for as long as Acacia Training be treated in a way which says no to delivering apprenticeships? Surely if the likes of OFSTED have been out and rigorously made a judgement and that they have passed due diligence and financial health checks then surely that shows quality. The health and social care sector needs specialist providers like this one especially, as sat watching panorama tonight they need to be able to provide quality training to ensure that we as a nation have good carers. The sector reports requiring a 2miilion carers by 2025 so why not train as an apprentice!

  3. Mr Obvious

    Quite clearly this was a procurement exercise. Track record is great, but no guarantee of future performance. If providers can’t fill out a fairy simple tender they don’t deserve access to public funds #harshbutfair

    • Andrew H

      While you state tack record is no guarantee of future performance then surely this has always been the case and is why we are audited by the SFA and visited by Ofsted so you build a history with these agencies to show that you run a business capable of maintaining standards and constantly improving and changing with the times and when you don’t they have the power to remove the funding – which we have seen happen very recently.

      However with the RoATP many organisation are finding their funding being removed not because of a bad history, miss-managed business or any other failing apart from an interpretation of one question on an application form.

      I think you will find most providers are very capable of filling in forms, the unknown reason is why some failed and others with similar text, less characters or a simple copy of the funding rules were accepted – were these read and checked by the same person?, was someone having a bad day? – this wasn’t a “Yes” or “No” exercise it was very much open to individual interpretation with no right of appeal – is this the 21st Century in democratic country ?? or is there something to hide ?

      We now have many providers on this register with no Ofsted reports – or some as old as 10 years, no Audit history, no history of delivering apprenticeships, little or no financial history and this deemed to be “High Quality”!

      Below is what the SFA say about their new register – so in no way should this just be about filling in an application form and failing on one question #unacceptable

      “Organisations that are listed on the RoATP have been through an application process with the SFA that considers due diligence, capability, quality and financial health to assess their capability to deliver high-quality apprenticeship training”.

    • Anne-marie Morris

      Harsh and not fair!•”There were inconsistencies in judgements, with responses from one organisation that were judged as failing being very similar to responses from others judged as passes” with no Appeals process how is this fair?