Ofsted Watch: Adult and community learning providers make great gains

Adult and community learning providers have come out the best from this week’s Ofsted reports as two improved to ‘good’ and one ‘inadequate’ council was found making ‘significant progress’.

It has been a mixed bag elsewhere, with seven grade three reports and five grade two reports.

Bromley London Borough Council upped its Ofsted grade to ‘good’ after inspectors the proportion of learners who achieved accredited qualifications has improved “dramatically” in 2017/18, with most of the improvement being down to learners on English for speakers of other languages courses.

Managers have made the monitoring of subcontractors more efficient and have terminated contracts where the outcomes for learners for adults with fragile mental health were not good enough and value for money was not maintained.

Blackpool Unitary Authority also improved from grade three to a two.

There is a “high standard” of teaching, according to the report, with tutors using information they collect about learners’ starting points to plan learning.

However, managers were found to be not using data well enough to inform their priorities. For example, managers did not identify the difference in the outcomes for learners who have a learning difficulty or disability.

Sunderland City Metropolitan Borough Council, also known as Sunderland City Council, made significant progress in four out of six areas of the monitoring visit after receiving a grade four last year.

Inspectors commended the adult and community learning provider for improving safeguarding measures, as well as for implementing a ‘Prevent’ duty action plan.

Managers have also improved their use of information to evaluate the quality of teaching, assessment and learning.

“For example,” inspectors wrote, “managers identified a significant gap at a number of subcontractors between the overall achievement of learners and the proportion of learners who achieved their qualifications within the allocated time.

“This enabled managers to direct the subcontractors to tackle the reasons for the slow progress of some of their learners.”

The College of West Anglia, an FE college, scored a grade two on its first inspection since being banned from entering into subcontracting arrangements in August.

This latest result is an improvement on its previous grade three from 2017. Inspectors wrote how leaders and governors ensure “students and apprentices can progress through higher qualification levels and can develop good skills for employment”.

The college’s senior leadership has recently revised the arrangements for the management and monitoring of subcontractors, which inspectors remarked were now “effective”.

After the ESFA’s counter fraud investigation in 2018 found the college did not know where their subcontracted provision was taking place, Ofsted has reported the college staff now visit subcontractors to enrol all students and managers have increased the number of unannounced quality assurance visits.

Richard Taunton Sixth Form College, a 16-19 academy, did not fare as well. It picked up a grade three on its first inspection.

South Bank Engineering UTC performed just as well: it scored a grade three on its first inspection as well.

Inspectors wrote: “Teachers do not routinely check what pupils and students in the sixth form know and can do. They do not always plan activities that challenge or support gaps in pupils’ and students’ knowledge or understanding.”

Many students also failed to achieve their A-levels.

South Wiltshire UTC was found to have a fit for purpose statement of action and action plan following a grade four report last year.

Trinity Specialist College Ltd improved from a grade three to a grade two.

Inspectors wrote that senior leaders have “successfully rectified most of the areas for improvement from the previous inspection”.

It was a mixed week for independent providers, with many making reasonable progress in areas of their monitoring visits, while others scored grade three in Ofsted reports.

ACE Training and Consultancy Limited maintained its grade two. But APM Learning and Education Alliance Limited, NDA Foundation Limited, Watertrain Limited, YH Training Services Limited and Catch 22 Charity Limited were all rated grade three.

Watertrain had been suspended from taking on new apprentices after it was found making ‘insufficient progress’ in a monitoring visit report last year. This ban has now been lifted owing to its grade three.

Total Training Company (UK) Ltd made ‘insufficient progress’ in meeting the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision, but made reasonable progress in the other two areas.

Cilex Law School Limited made reasonable progress in all three areas of their monitoring visit, as did Fit UK Training & Education Ltd.

Employer provider EJ Markham Ltd, which trades as Markerstudy Limited, made ‘reasonable progress’ in all three areas of its inspection.

GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
The College of West Anglia07/01/201927/02/201923


Sixth Form Colleges (inc 16-19 academies)InspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Richard Taunton Sixth Form College22/01/201927/02/20193N/A


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
ACE Training and Consultancy Limited15/01/201925/02/201922
APM Learning and Education Alliance Limited29/01/201926/02/201933
NDA Foundation Limited22/01/201927/02/20193N/A
Total Training Company (UK) Ltd23/01/201928/02/2019MM
Watertrain Limited14/01/201926/02/20193N/A
Cilex Law School Limited19/01/201925/02/2019MM
Fit UK Training & Education Ltd17/01/201925/02/2019MM
YH Training Services Limited21/01/201927/02/201933
Catch 22 Charity Limited29/01/201926/02/201932


Adult and Community LearningInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Bromley London Borough Council15/01/201927/02/201923 
Sunderland City Metropolitan Borough Council22/01/201926/02/2019MMMMSSSSRR
Blackpool Unitary Authority22/01/201901/03/201923 


Employer providersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
E J Markham Ltd16/01/201927/02/2019MMRRR


Other (including UTCs)InspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
South Wiltshire UTC29/01/201928/02/2019M4
South Bank Engineering UTC22/01/201928/02/20193n/a


Specialist collegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Trinity Specialist College Ltd30/01/201927/02/201923

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