Ofsted watch: An encouraging week for FE and skills

An adult and community learning provider has boosted its grade to ‘good’ in a positive week for the FE and skills sector, as two providers received glowing reports following monitoring visits of their apprenticeship provision.

Hackney London Borough Council was rated grade two across the board, up from its previous ‘requires improvement’ rating, in a report published May 16 and based on an inspection in mid March.

Learners, many of whom “experience social, emotional and health difficulties” make “good progress” and “benefit significantly from courses which reduce their isolation and dependency on other services”, inspectors noted.

Leaders and managers have “high aspirations” for learners, the report said, and have created a “nurturing and purposeful environment that supports learners well to take positive strides in their lives”.

They also “work very effectively” with subcontractors – of whom five are listed in the report – “to provide value for money and to achieve their mission to provide education to residents who experience disadvantage”.

Both employer provider Virgin Trains Sales Limited and independent learning provider ARC Academy Limited had monitoring visit reports of their apprenticeship provision published this week.

Leaders at Virgin, which began delivering level two and three apprenticeships in customer care and team leader in 2017, were found to being making ‘significant progress’ in ensuring it was meeting all the requirements of successful provision.

They were found to “share a vision” of providing high-quality training, and to “communicate very effectively their passion for apprentices to be ‘the best that they can be’”, according to the report published May 17 and based on a visit in late April.

“Well-organised training programmes ensure that when apprentices join their on-board crew members, they are able to participate in providing high-quality service,” the report said.

The provider was found to be making ‘reasonable progress’ in ensuring that apprentices benefit from high-quality training that leads to positive outcomes, and in ensuring that safeguarding was effective.

Managers had “implemented appropriate quality monitoring processes” to evaluate training, and were using these to “review effectively the standard of apprentices’ work”.

ARC, based in Wales, which delivers level two apprenticeships in construction and rail engineering, was a subcontractor before being a lead provider.

In a report published May 17 and based on a visit in early April, inspectors found them to be making ‘reasonable progress’ in all three themes.

Leaders were “committed and determined to deliver effective apprentice training” and “demonstrably keen to manage and further improve” provision.

“Leaders recognise that there is always more work to be done and have plans in place that demonstrate the potential to bring about any improvements necessary,” it said.

Staff were also found to “use their industry-specific expertise and insight very well”, and to “maintain very effective, close working relationships with a range of large employers”.

Where off-the-job training was “well-planned” it helped to enhance “apprentices’ understanding of the theoretical aspects of their day-to-day job”.

But the report noted “some variation in the quality of off-the-job training is evident” and that in some cases it was limited to “general advice and guidance”.

Independent learning provider Access Training Limited held onto its grade two rating, following a short inspection in late April.

No general FE or sixth form colleges had inspection reports published this week.

Adult and community learningInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Hackney London Borough Council13/03/1816/05/1823


Employer providersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Virgin Trains Sales Limited24/04/1817/05/18MonitoringMonitoring


Independent learning providersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
A R C Academy UK Limited11/04/1817/05/18MonitoringMonitoring


Short inspection (remains grade 2)InspectedPublished
Access Training Limited24/04/1816/05/18


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