Ofsted plans ‘shadow nominee’ for training providers during inspections

Inspectorate says it wants to 'ease the burden' currently placed on one person's shoulders and 'help the sector with succession planning'

Inspectorate says it wants to 'ease the burden' currently placed on one person's shoulders and 'help the sector with succession planning'

Ofsted has announced it will allow training providers to provide a second nominee during inspections, after lobbying by sector leaders.

Currently, training providers must nominate one person in their organisation to be the link between the provider and the inspector at the time of inspections.

Ofsted’s deputy director for FE and skills Paul Joyce revealed this morning at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ autumn conference that from January 2023, a second nominee – known as a “shadow” nominee – can also be put forward by the provider.

Full details and a briefing by Ofsted will be presented before the rollout in the New Year, but the shadow nominee is expected to only have an observational capacity, with the primary nominee still being the point of liaison.

Joyce, who announced the measure to applause from the conference, said: “Our current practice is to usually only allow one nominee as the link between the provider and the inspector, but increasingly as providers have got larger, as the stakes on inspection have increased, and, particularly with large and complex providers where there is geographic spread, where there are lots of sector subject areas, or where there are many learners, we do appreciate a lot of responsibility rests on one person’s shoulders.

“We are wanting to ease that burden, and we also want to help the sector with succession planning.”

When asked by FE Week whether that was because of any concerns from the sector around the way inspections have been carried out, Joyce said that was not the case, but more around professional development and easing the burden on one person.

Colleges already put forward two nominees, but that is because of the nature of their “enhanced inspections”, according to Joyce. For colleges, the role of the primary nominee stays the same, but the second nominee looks at the skills needs of a college as part of the enhanced inspection.

Joyce said the protocol is being put together so that at the planning call, which acts as the notification of upcoming inspection, the training provider can put forward their nominee and decide if they want a shadow nominee.

Joyce said that the shadow nominee role is as an observer and “won’t expect that nominee to contribute during team meetings or to ask questions, but they are there to take notes and support your nominee”.

Jane Hickie, chief executive of AELP, said: “I am really pleased that Ofsted will adopt AELP’s shadow nominee proposal, as of January 1 2023.

“One of the key challenges for providers is to ensure appropriate succession planning for the next generation of inspection nominees. An experienced nominee can often make the difference to a training provider having a positive inspection experience.”

Hickie said that while nominee training is widely available, there was a lack of practical exposure to the role, which the shadow nominee plans will help address, adding that it will ensure a “high-quality and well-informed inspection” for both the provider and Ofsted.

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