Ofsted watch: Another UTC hit with poor grade

A university technical college in Middlesex received a grade three in its first ever Ofsted inspection, spelling even more problems for the 14 to 19 institutions, in a week that saw a sixth form college rated ‘outstanding’.

Inspectors cited “historically low attendance” at Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC as well as “poor” student attitudes towards being at the UTC, in an inspection report published March 22.

The report said parents and pupils reported to inspectors that they feel “let down by promises made by this UTC not being fulfilled”.

It added: “A legacy of challenges, including in staff recruitment and financial constraints, has been a significant challenge to overcome.”

Heathrow UTC has just 205 students on roll, with a capacity of 600.

The ‘requires improvement’ outcome adds to troubles for the UTC model.

FE Week revealed earlier this month that less than half of the university technical colleges visited by Ofsted have received ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ grades.

The education watchdog has now visited a total of 21 UTCs, but only nine of these, or 42 per cent, were judged to be good enough for higher grades.

St John Rigby RC Sixth Form College in Wigan on the other hand received an ‘outstanding’ grade from Ofsted, in an inspection report published March 21.

The previously grade two 1,300-learner SFC’s principal and leadership team have “worked relentlessly to ensure transformational change since the last inspection”, inspectors said.

They added: “Excellent teaching results in a high proportion of students making exceptional progress from their starting points. Consequently, most students achieve, and often exceed, their aspirational target grades.”

The damning Ofsted report that caused the downfall of huge apprenticeship training provider First4Skills was also published this week.

The Liverpool-based provider went bust earlier this month, affecting around 200 staff and around 6,500 learners, after the Skills Funding Agency pulled its contract following a grade four rating from the education watchdog.

Inspectors blasted leaders at the provider for failing to “tackle the significant weaknesses identified at the previous inspection”, with the result that “outcomes for learners and the quality of teaching, learning and assessment have declined further and are now inadequate”.

“Strategic priorities focus disproportionately on maximising the company’s income at the expense of providing high standards of education and training for learners,” it said.

Meanwhile another private provider, System Group Limited who delivers training nationally, went up from a grade three to a grade two.

The 2,100-learner provider was graded ‘good’ across the board, with inspectors highlighting the provider’s apprenticeship delivery.

“All apprentices benefit from the very regular contact, one-to-one coaching and support they receive from their trainer/assessors,” inspectors said. “Apprentices and learners have extremely good knowledge of safe working practices which they apply correctly.”

Vision West Nottinghamshire College kept its grade two in a report published March 21.

Inspectors said senior leaders have put the college “at the heart of the local community, enabling it to raise aspirations and support the area’s cultural and economic regeneration.”

But they added too few learners on classroom-based programmes achieve their qualifications in English and mathematics or “improve their skills sufficiently”.

Tameside College kept its grade three in a report published March 21.

To improve inspectors said the colleges needs to “increase significantly the proportion of apprentices who achieve their apprenticeship and who complete within the planned timescale”.

Epping Forest College had its first monitoring visit since being rated ‘inadequate’ on January 6.

Ofsted said the college was making good progress since the grade four.

Two short inspection reports were also published this week.

South West Regional Assessment Centre Limited, an employer provider, was found to continue as ‘good’ since a grade two in June 2013.

Staffordshire County Council also continues to be ‘good’ since a grade two November 2012.


GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Tameside College 14/02/2017 21/03/2017 3 3
Vision West Nottinghamshire College 07/02/2017 21/03/2017 2 2
Epping Forest College 26/01/2017 17/03/2017 M M


Sixth Form Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
St John Rigby RC Sixth Form College 14/02/2017 21/03/2017 1 2


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
System Group Limited 20/02/2017 24/03/2017 2 3
FIRST4SKILLS Limited 07/02/2017 20/03/2017 4 3


Other (including UTCs) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC 21/02/2017 22/03/2017 3


Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published
South West Regional Assessment Centre Ltd 23/02/2017 20/03/2017
Staffordshire County Council 27/02/2017 20/03/2017

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