Ofsted upgrades ‘resilient’ emergency care provider from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’

Medipro staff were thanked for their ‘fortitude’ after sudden and complex influx of apprentices

Medipro staff were thanked for their ‘fortitude’ after sudden and complex influx of apprentices

An emergency care training provider that struggled to support hundreds of apprentices it took on at short notice has seen its Ofsted grade jump from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’.

In 2022, the education watchdog criticised Medipro for a lack of resources and infrastructure to support 537 ambulance worker apprentices that it took on in addition to its own 700 apprentices.

The Stockton-on-Tees based provider stepped in to help the additional apprentices a year earlier at the request of the government after their previous provider, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, lost its contract due to “inappropriate behaviour” of some staff.

Following a full inspection last month, Ofsted said Medipro has been “proactive” in improving on previous criticisms that it had failed to act “quickly or effectively enough” to ensure a smooth transition for the apprentices.

Leaders and managers now have “effective quality assurance processes” in place to ensure apprentices achieve their qualification.

They have effective oversight of their apprenticeship programmes and a “detailed understanding” of their learners’ progress and support.

The provider is also in the process of setting up an advisory board, the watchdog reported.

Inspectors praised the way tutors, who are all serving paramedics, “skillfully link theory to practical application” in their teaching.

The report, which scored Medipro as ‘good’ across the board, said apprentices “rapidly acquire significant new knowledge, skills and behaviours” and are well prepared for future job roles.

‘Demotivated’ apprentices show ‘determination’

Medipro – which also has branches in the east of England and Bristol – added the 537 apprentices from the NHS ambulance trust to its own 700 apprentices in 2021.

Many of the new learners had reportedly already reached their planned end date, but 230 were yet to qualify when Ofsted inspectors arrived a year later, in November 2022.

Ofsted said “too many” of the transferred apprentices were “demotivated” and “frustrated” by a lack of guidance and clarity about their progress. 

Inspectors also claimed that the apprentices had experienced “long delays in the return of marked work and, in too many cases, have been without a tutor for a long period of time”.

Medipro was a relatively new apprenticeship training provider, having only started this type of teaching in April 2020.

However, the Education and Skills Funding Agency took the rare decision of retaining Medipro’s funding agreement despite the ‘inadequate’ grading in recognition of the way the provider had stepped in at short notice.

At the time, Medipro’s managing director Brian English said he was “disappointed” given the size of the group of transferred apprentices, the short timeframe for taking them on, and the fact that their portfolios were paper-based.

Two short Ofsted monitoring reports in 2023 showed the training provider soon made improvements including giving learners a dedicated tutor, offering drop-in support and an online portfolio to receive feedback from their tutor.

Kirsty Wharton, head of apprenticeships at Medipro, said: “During the late Autumn of 2021, Medipro was approached by ESFA and Health Education England to onboard 600 apprentices who were not able to continue with their current provider.

“This was a large scale and complex task which was still being undertook when we had our Ofsted inspection.

“I’m pleased to say that over 95 per cent of these apprentices have now succeeded and are working in their greatly-needed sector, and that we have now returned to normal operational business as reflected with this grade and the previous monitoring inspections.

“I would like to thank by staff for their resilience and fortitude over this past year, and the apprentices themselves for showing perseverance and determination during the re-engagement process.”

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