Ofsted watch: A ‘good’ week for FE as providers maintain grade twos

There was good news across the FE sector last week as both providers with reports published maintained their grade two standards.

Birmingham’s Gordon Franks Training was congratulated for taking “very effective action” to reverse a decline in the numbers of apprentices achieving their qualifications in 2015/2016.

The independent learning provider delivers short study programmes to prepare young people for employment, traineeships and apprenticeships, mainly in childcare, administration and customer service, and caters for many learners from areas of high deprivation in central Birmingham and the surrounding area.

The report, published on October 2, also commends GFT for effectively supporting learners in developing self-confidence, resilience and social skills to prepare them for the future, with most students moving into further training, employment or apprenticeships on completion. However, it does say that too few learners retaking GCSE mathematics or English achieve a grade C/3 or better.

The report also mentions that some apprentices are unsure about what progression opportunities are available to them and that some do not develop a good enough understanding of radicalisation, extremism or British values, but emphasised that these were a “small minority”.

Independent learning provider Nital Ltd also kept its grade two after a short inspection.

The Kettering-based provider was praised for establishing an engineering skills training academy to provide practical and theoretical support to young people and for expanding the range of apprenticeships offered.

Although Ofsted noted the proportion of learners successfully achieving their qualifications had fallen slightly, it also said the achievement rate remained high.

The report also commended Nital for maintaining excellent relationships with local employers effectively safeguarding learners.

In its final monitoring visit after being ruled ‘inadequate’ last November, Stockport College has been found to be making reasonable progress.

The report, published last week after a visit in September, noted that 27 members of staff had left since the last monitoring visit in May. However, Ofsted said these had been replaced by new staff “who are clear about the minimum requirements that senior managers expect of them”.

The report also criticised senior managers for reacting too slowly to recommendations in the previous report, resulting in too little progress in improving the standard of education and training. Although it accepted the pace of improvement has increased in the past six months, Ofsted warned this was too late to generate the improvements needed with almost one in five 16- to 18-year-old learners leaving courses early in 2016/2017 and more than one quarter of learners not achieving their qualifications.

Despite this, senior managers were praised for holding curriculum managers to account, providing more detailed information to governors, developing staff teaching skills, appointing a teaching and learning manager to improve standards across the college and developing an in-depth data dashboard to help monitor attendance, behaviour and attainment levels.

Finally, Birmingham-based Compass Group UK & Ireland received its first monitoring visit since it was rated ‘inadequate’ in July.

The report, published on October 3 after the visit a month before, said directors had fully accepted the “shock result” and made a swift response to implement the Ofsted recommendations.

Although it praised the independent learning provider for appointing new managers and undertaking their own detailed analysis of the weaknesses in provision, which highlighted “far deeper problems than they had anticipated”, it warned that managers need to focus on how to actively improve the experience for apprenticeships as well as fixing the weaknesses.

Independent Learning Providers




Previous grade

Gordon Franks Training Ltd






GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Stockport College 13/09/2017 06/10/2017 M M


Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Compass Group UK & Ireland 13/09/2017 03/10/2017 M M


Short inspections (remains grade 2)






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