Ofsted pulls provider’s ‘inadequate’ report in unprecedented move

Re-inspection ordered six weeks after publication

Re-inspection ordered six weeks after publication

Ofsted has taken the unprecedented step of unpublishing an ‘inadequate’ report for a training provider – and now plans to carry out a reinspection following an appeal.

UK Training & Development Limited (UKTD), based in Hemel Hampstead, was handed the lowest possible judgement in a report published in October. The outcome opened up the provider to contract termination from the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The company’s owner threatened the inspectorate with legal action after saying she was “shocked” with the damaging report, which failed to consider the impact of Covid-19 on the hairdressing industry that her provider delivers apprenticeships to.

UKTD had its original appeal rejected and Ofsted proceeded to publish the grade four report.

But, in an extraordinary move, the watchdog has removed the report more than a month after its publication.

Ofsted told FE Week that UKTD has continued to appeal against the judgement “through the complaints process and we have upheld aspects of their appeal”.

“We have removed the report from our website and will reinspect UKTD in due course,” a spokesperson added.

It is unclear what UKTD argued in its appeal to force Ofsted to remove the report and decide that a reinspection was required.

UKTD’s managing director, Theresa Wisniewski, said she could not comment on the case at this stage other than to say: “We welcome Ofsted’s decision.”

Training providers and colleges have been successful in getting their judgements upgraded prior to inspection reports being published in the past, but it is unheard of for Ofsted to remove a report after publication and decide to carry out a reinspection.

Several other providers have complained this year that Ofsted is handing out grade fours without considering the part the pandemic has played on apprenticeship delivery – and in some cases followed it up with legal action.

Two providers launched high court bids to get their grades overturned in recent months, but both were unsuccessful.

This isn’t the first time UKTD has battled ‘inadequate’ Ofsted grades. The provider was given the judgement twice in 2017.

The two inspections were based on safeguarding failings. It is not clear why the Education and Skills Funding Agency did not terminate the provider’s contracts following the previous grade four judgements, as is usual practice for independent training providers. The agency can, however, decide not to terminate contracts in exceptional circumstances. UKTD, which was set up in 1998, was also judged ‘inadequate’ in 2006 by the Adult Learning Inspectorate – Ofsted’s predecessor.

Ofsted’s latest inspection of UKTD took place in July when the provider had almost 200 apprentices.

Wisniewski previously told FE Week it was “very frustrating for any provider when outcomes lack consistency and seem to be dependent on which inspection team arrives on the day”.

The managing director instructed Angela Sandhal of Duncan Lewis Solicitors to assist the provider with their appeal.

At the time of the publication of the grade four report Sandhal said: “My client is concerned that the current inspection findings are part of a pattern of grade four inspections at a time when providers are still in the Covid recovery phase.

“We have asked Ofsted to provide us with the raw data gathered during the inspection process.”

UKTD is still listed on the government’s register of apprenticeship training providers and is not listed as having a suspension on new starts.

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  1. Alan Green

    As with all processes this is a positive move for the integrity of outcomes and shows it can happen in the right circumstances. Of course it doesn’t mean Ofsted re inspection will come to a different conclusion.

    • Phil Hatton

      I can only think of two possible reasons to pull a report and admit that the inspection was at fault. Covid can be somewhat of a ‘red herring’ as many providers did an outstanding job in adapting their delivery. On a positive point I am sure that Ofsted will ensure that the next inspection is carried out with no preconceived ideas about how well the provider will do. Hopefully they will also ensure a team with real expertise in hairdressing and apprenticeships. It is one of the real negatives of their current inspection resourcing that one vocational area providers often have no one who can judge skills development accurately and would not recognise faults in skills or knowledge development imparted to learners during training delivery.