Ofsted is vital to good apprenticeship provision – now more than ever

Key6 Group was found to be “not fit for purpose” – and the majority of their 200+ recruits weren’t even aware that they were on an apprenticeship.

The inspectorate has really shown what makes it so vital, by visiting so quickly and choosing to make public its first report into a new apprenticeship provider.

And action from the apprenticeships minister Anne Milton has also been swift and equally public – telling FE Week that Key6 cannot take any new recruits until issues such as safeguarding are addressed.

The fact is, as FE Week has repeatedly reported, the ESFA made it far too easy for dozens of companies with no financial history, let alone experience delivering apprenticeships, to join the register of apprenticeship training providers.

And with over 200 starts mostly on management apprenticeships, it’s likely Key6 is already drawing in hundreds of thousands of pounds each month in funding.

The ESFA now needs to properly join the quality and financial assurance party, by doing three things:

Firstly, raising the bar on new entrants to RoATP, something I’m cautiously confident its current review of the register will conclude.

Secondly, limit exposure to risk by gradually providing access to funding for new and untested providers, rather than giving them unlimited access from day one.

And finally, diverting some of the ongoing millions being spent on the apprenticeship system to expand the ESFA’s audit team, because adding bells and whistles to this online software should not be an immediate priority.

Nick Linford is the editor of FE Week

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