An independent specialist college showed the best of FE this week as it maintained its ‘outstanding’ rating, but the worst of the sector was also displayed when a private provider was branded ‘inadequate’.

Foxes Academy, based in Somerset, was given a grade one across the board for the third time since 2007, in a report published on July 19.

It is a residential college and training hotel for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities – taking learners from across the country whose disabilities include hearing impairments, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism spectrum disorder.

“Learners epitomise the values of staying safe and healthy, enjoying and achieving their qualifications, becoming independent and contributing positively to society,” Ofsted said.

“Learners make exceptional progress in developing their confidence, communication and interpersonal skills, enabling them to make their views known effectively and contribute to improving the college.

“The vast majority of learners gain long-term employment or are successful in moving into independent living accommodation.”

Inspectors found that the curriculum and range of support, such as speech and language therapy, are “very well designed and delivered”. They raise learners’ “aspirations and enable them to develop their independence and work skills very well”.

Partnerships with employers are also “excellent and productive, assisting learners to enjoy highly effective work experience or work placements”.

“The real working environment of the Foxes Hotel enhances the experiences of learners very successfully,” inspectors added.

On the other end of the spectrum, a provider which trains hundreds of glass industry apprentices was given Ofsted’s lowest possible grade, in a damaging report which led to the Education and Skills Funding Agency withdrawing its funding.

The Vocational College Limited, based in Liverpool, has now ceased trading.

“Too many” apprentices were said to be making slow or very slow progress,” inspectors said.

“They are unable to complete the apprenticeship by the planned end date due to weak management of the programme and poor teaching, learning and assessment.”

It was better news for BCTG Limited, a private provider based in Oldbury, which improved from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’.

Leaders provide “clear strategic leadership and are ambitious” for their 3,279 learners.

“Managers work effectively with local and regional partnerships to identify and provide education and training that meet the needs of employers, learners and apprentices,” inspectors said.

“Most learners and apprentices achieve their qualifications by the planned end date.”

The majority also progress towards employment or gain promotions in their jobs, Ofsted’s team added.

Also going from a grade three to a two was Waverley Training Services, an adult and community learning provider which trains around 950 learners on study programmes and apprenticeships in Surrey.

“Since the previous inspection, leaders and managers have made changes that have improved the standards of teaching and learning so that a much higher proportion is good,” inspectors said.

“Staff at Waverley Training Services support employability learners well to remain on their courses and overcome problems that have prevented them from achieving in the past.”

Going in the opposite direction was Strathmore College.

This independent specialist college, based in Stoke-on-Trent, went from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ because governors and senior leaders pay “insufficient attention to improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment”.

It trains learners who have mild to severe learning disabilities, and emotional, social and behavioural difficulties.

“Staff training in the ‘Prevent’ duty has not yet led to learners having a secure understanding of the risks of radicalisation and extremism,” Ofsted said.

“Leaders and managers have not made sufficient arrangements for learners to receive impartial careers education, advice and guidance to enable them to make informed choices.”

Meanwhile, there were two monitoring visit reports of “new” apprenticeship providers published this week.

Bauer Radio Limited, based in Edinburgh, and Sccu Ltd in Coventry, were both deemed to be making ‘reasonable progress’ in all fields judged.

Lastly, three short inspections were released in which all providers maintained their ‘good’ grades.

These were for Prevista Ltd, a private provider in London, The Northumberland Council, and the Heart of Birmingham Vocational College, another independent specialist college.


Independent Specialist College Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Foxes Academy  13/06/2018 19/07/2018 1 1
Strathmore College 05/06/2018 18/07/2018 3 2


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
BCTG Limited 12/06/2018 20/07/2018 2 3
Sccu Ltd 06/06/2018 19/07/2018 M M
Bauer Radio Limited 25/06/2018 18/07/2018 M M
The Vocational College Limited 05/06/2018 16/07/2018 4 2


Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Waverley Training Services 12/06/2018 20/07/2018 2 3


Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published
The Northumberland Council 20/06/2018 19/07/2018
Prevista Ltd 12/06/2018 16/07/2018
Heart of Birmingham Vocational College 27/06/2018 20/07/2018

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