Ofsted watch: Universities stand out, while some big colleges fall short

Universities have stood out from the pack this week, while other types of providers have not done as well, including two big colleges which dropped to grade three.

But it wasn’t all bad news for the college sector, as London South East Colleges, which has 10,000 learners, received a glowing grade two report.

The University of Kent, which trains over 170 level 5 technician scientist and laboratory scientist apprentices, was one of several higher education institutions to receive an Ofsted rating of ‘good’.

Inspectors said apprentices “rapidly develop an extensive range of skills and knowledge that meet the high standards of employers”, while lecturers for assess them “frequently and comprehensively”.

The University of Greenwich also received a grade two from its first inspection. It has 35 apprentices on level 4 and 5 nursing associate and science laboratory technician standards.

“Leaders and managers have a clear and ambitious vision to provide high-quality apprenticeships to meet the needs of employers,” inspectors wrote.

The University of Cumbria improved from a grade three to a grade two. It provides level 5 standards to 37 apprentices.

“Board members are instrumental in ensuring that apprenticeship programmes are intrinsic to the university’s strategic plan for growth,” inspectors wrote.

Apprentices acquire “substantial” new knowledge and skills highly effectively, making them valued members of the workforce.

The University of Wolverhampton had its first monitoring visit since it became a registered apprenticeship training provider.

It was found to have made reasonable progress in all areas of the inspection, and was commended for how its 182 apprentices picked up good practical skills.

Senior leaders and governors at London South East Colleges were praised for having managed the merger of the former Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich colleges “successfully”, and “raised standards across the college”.

Its teachers have “good industrial knowledge and experience” in the subjects they teach, and the vast majority of adult learners at the college achieve their qualifications, with achievement rates for ESOL described as “very high”.

“Senior leaders and governors have presided over a period of significant decline”

RNN Group, which had 14,925 learners over the previous full contract year, dropped from a grade two to a grade three this week.

It was formed from two mergers of several colleges, and inspectors reported: “Senior leaders and governors have presided over a period of significant decline in the quality of education and training following the two mergers.”

RNN’s interim principal Jason Austin said: “We acknowledge that further improvements need to be made in key areas, and the leadership team is both determined and focused on achieving excellent provision across the group.”

The Bournemouth and Poole College, the largest provider of academic and vocational education in Dorset with over 7,000 learners, also dropped to a grade three from a two.

Leaders have “not tackled weaknesses” from the last inspection; including achievement rates for GCSE and functional skills qualifications, and learners’ attendance, according to Ofsted.

Other colleges fared slightly better, with Stockton Riverside College making significant progress in four areas and reasonable progress in one other, according to its first Ofsted monitoring visit since Redcar and Cleveland College dissolved and merged into it in August.

Meanwhile, Solihull College and University Centre made significant progress in two areas and reasonable progress in three others in its first monitoring visit since Stratford-upon-Avon College merged with it in February 2018.

Specialist college Brogdale Community Interest Company received a grade three for the first inspection of its provision for 26 students.

Fellow specialist college bemix, which supports people with learning difficulties and, or alternatively, autism received a grade three for its provision to 22 learners from its first inspection.

Calman Colaiste (Kisimul Group) bucked the trend, with a grade two from the first inspection of its provision to 31 learners.

Employer provider Greenwich Leisure Ltd, which has 131 apprentices, scored a grade three in its first inspection, with inspectors saying senior leaders “did not monitor effectively the training delivered by their subcontractor”.

Leaders “fail to identify when work in learners’ files is not their own, original work”.

Chosen Care Group, which teaches less than 50 learners scored a grade four, meaning it is likely to lose its funding contract with the ESFA. Leaders “fail to identify when work in learners’ files is not their own, original work,” inspectors reported.

As for independent learning providers: Advanced Personnel Management Group (UK) Limited, which has 68 apprentices, was stuck with its second grade three.

BPP Professional Education Limited, which has 1,750 apprentices, made reasonable progress in one area, but significant progress in two other areas, in an early monitoring visit of its apprenticeship provision.

Inspectors gave Unique Training Solutions Limited a grade two for its provision to 131 apprentices.

ITEC Learning Technologies was found to have made reasonable progress in all three areas of its monitoring visit.

Lastly, Calex UK Ltd made reasonable progress in two areas, but significant progress in ensuring apprentices benefit from high quality training that leads to positive outcomes.

GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
London South East Colleges 19/03/2019 03/05/2019 2 M
RNN Group 19/03/2019 02/05/2019 3 M
Stockton Riverside College 19/03/2019 30/04/2019 M N/A
Solihull College and University Centre 13/03/2019 29/04/2019 M N/A
The Bournemouth and Poole College 12/03/2019 02/05/2019 3 2


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Unique Training Solutions Limited 27/03/2019 29/04/2019 2 M
BPP Professional Education Limited 27/03/2019 30/04/2019 M N/A
ITEC Learning Technologies 19/03/2019 29/04/2019 M N/A
Advanced Personnel Management Group (UK) Limited 19/03/2019 30/04/2019 3 3
Calex UK Ltd 09/04/2019 01/05/2019 M 2


Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Greenwich Leisure Ltd 18/03/2019 02/05/2019 3 N/A
Chosen Care Group Limited 05/03/2019 29/04/2019 4 N/A


Other (including UTCs) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
University of Kent 25/03/2019 01/05/2019 2 N/A
University of Greenwich 19/03/2019 30/04/2019 2 N/A
University of Wolverhampton 10/04/2019 03/05/2019 M N/A
University of Cumbria 26/03/2019 29/04/2019 2 3


Specialist colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Calman Colaiste (Kisimul Group) 27/03/2019 02/05/2019 2 N/A
Brogdale Community Interest Company 11/03/2019 02/05/2019 3 N/A
bemix 19/03/2019 01/05/2019 3 N/A

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