Another apprenticeship provider has accused Ofsted of being “unfair” after the watchdog judged the company as ‘inadequate’ mostly due to a lack of off-the-job training.
Excelsis Training Limited faces being kicked out of the apprenticeship market owing to the rating and expects to make around 30 redundancies as a result.
Ofsted’s report on the provider, which trains almost 250 apprentices mostly in childcare and healthcare sectors, said that leaders “do not ensure that apprentices receive their entitlement to training time” due to the demands of their roles and “too often” have to “study outside of their working hours”.
Other criticism included that apprentices’ progress has been “slowed by too many changes of teaching staff”, “too many lack the motivation to complete their apprenticeship”, and a poorly planned curriculum.
The provider also offers apprenticeships in digital marketing and hospitality to fill skills shortages, but Ofsted found leaders have offered apprenticeships in a range of different industries “without enough understanding of each sector to ensure the success of the programme”.
Excelsis’s managing director Olufemi Osinaike blamed the ‘inadequate’ grade on Covid, adding that he thought the judgement was “harsh”.
“I think it is unfair – Covid was not taken into consideration, the employment crisis in the health sector wasn’t taken into consideration, and as a result they made the judgement that is totally not true,” he told FE Week.
“We started delivering apprenticeships in 2020 in the main part of Covid. After Covid it has been a crisis within the healthcare sector, an employment crisis especially. A lot of people are leaving their jobs in the sector and leaving the industry completely. It means the people remaining don’t have the time [for off the job training] – they have to do two-to-three people’s jobs.
“We can we put people on breaks in learning and withdraw people, but we made a slight allowance – not even a big allowance – around off-the-job training, as long as they can prove they are spending X amount of time on their qualification.”
Excelsis is the latest in a string of providers to complain that Ofsted has failed to take into consideration the impact of the pandemic in ‘inadequate’ reports. Some have tried and failed to challenge the grades legally.
Osinaike said he is waiting for the Education and Skills Funding Agency to terminate Excelsis’ apprenticeships contract. His provider plans to turn its focus to commercial training.