Ofsted hands rare ‘inadequate’ grade to county council

Bedford Borough Council becomes second local authority to currently hold the lowest possible grade

Bedford Borough Council becomes second local authority to currently hold the lowest possible grade


Bedford Borough Council has been deemed ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted – making it the second local authority to currently hold the lowest possible grade from the education watchdog.

The council provides apprenticeships to almost 30 adults through its own training assessment centre, mostly in health and social care as well as early years and for teaching assistants.

Ofsted found that most apprentices do not remain in learning or complete their apprenticeship because teachers do not motivate or encourage them to overcome barriers to learning and persevere with their studies, according to a grade four report published today.

Inspectors said that leaders and governors do not accurately assess the quality of education, instead they focus too heavily on finances and other operational matters.

The report also noted that the provider’s leaders do not work with employers to enhance the curriculum by gaining the employers perspective of what training they need for their workforce. 

Leaders were found to not extend opportunities for apprentices learning beyond what the apprenticeship standard is, resulting in too few apprentices having the opportunity to develop and deepen their wider interests or talents. 

However, the inspection report also drew on more positive elements. Such as that vocational teachers frequently recap previous learning to ensure that apprentices repeat and retain essential knowledge.  

Other positive elements included teachers breaking down learning into key learning concepts and planning regular breaks in online workshop sessions to allow apprentices time to reflect on new knowledge. 

“For example, teaching assistant apprentices value the opportunity to discuss the signs that may indicate children are experiencing difficulties or are at risk of harm.”

Although the report stated that safeguarding arrangements are effective, inspectors also observed that staff have a limited understanding of the safeguarding risks in the local area and do not “receive routine updates from senior leaders within the council. As a result, teaching staff are unable to help apprentices understand the risks they face in society.”  

The inspectors found that senior leaders do not always identify potential safeguarding risks or take swift remedial action. 

Just one other local authority – Richmond Upon Thames Borough Council – is currently rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said: “We are extremely disappointed with the outcome and currently considering our next actions.”

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