Ofsted watch: RNN Group criticised for poor oversight of subcontractors

A college group has been criticised for its poor oversight of subcontractors, in the latest of a new wave of special Ofsted monitoring reports.

The RNN Group’s senior leaders’ “management of all subcontractors and subsidiary companies was not good enough” during a period when they oversaw two college mergers.

They failed to “evaluate accurately” the weaknesses in teaching and learning that led to “too few learners and apprentices” at the group’s 14 subcontractors achieving their qualifications.

Inspectors noted that governors had taken “positive steps” to increase their oversight of subcontractors since last summer.

But managers were found to be “over-optimistic” in their evaluation of the improvements they’re making.

In 2016/17, RNN Group had 2,569 apprentices and 14,860 learners. The group subcontracted 22 per cent of its apprenticeship provision and four per cent of its classroom-based learning.

This report on them is part of a new wave of monitoring visits that Ofsted recently announced would be carried out with a sample of providers, as part of efforts to keep a closer eye on subcontracted provision.

Elsewhere, it was a turn up for the books this week for colleges, with both full inspections resulting in ‘good’ grades.

But independent learning providers fared less well, as all but one full inspection this week received a grade three.

Lincoln College saw its rating go up from three to two in a report published April 13 and based on an inspection in mid-March.

“Substantial improvements” had taken place at the college since its last inspection, with the result that “the majority of learners make good progress and many more now achieve their qualifications”.

Governors and leaders were praised for creating a culture that “focuses on the needs of learners and employers”.

Governors and leaders were praised for creating a culture that “focuses on the needs of learners and employers”.

“They offer provision that meets the needs of the local community well, and most learners progress to positive destinations,” the report said.

Inspectors also noted that while attendance had “improved in the last year”, it was still “too low”.

Hugh Baird College held onto its grade two rating, in a report published April 9 and based on an inspection in late February.

Achievement rates had “risen over the last three years”, and were now “high” for 16- to 18-year-olds, learners with high needs and adults.

Learners enjoyed “an extensive range of enrichment activities and meaningful work experience” as well as “highly effective pastoral support and guidance” – with the latter meaning they were able to “remain on their course”.

But leaders’ efforts to improve the quality of apprenticeship provision – which received a ‘requires improvement’ rating – were “not successful”, the report said.

Independent learning provider Serco Limited was rated ‘requires improvement’ across the board, down from its previous ‘good’ rating, in a report published April 13 and based on an inspection in early March.

“Too many” apprentices were failing to complete their courses on time, and senior leaders did not “ensure that apprentices who fall behind catch up”, the report said.

Leaders were also criticised for being “too slow” to put in place plans to ensure that “all apprentices receive a high standard of teaching and learning and complete their qualification”.

Chamber Training (Humber) Limited also slipped one grade from two to three, in a report published April 12 and based on a late-February inspection.

The proportion of apprentices finishing their courses on time had “declined” and was now “too low”, the report said.

The proportion of apprentices finishing their courses on time had “declined” and was now “too low”

Inspectors found “too many instances” of tutors and assessors accrediting adult learners for existing skills and knowledge, rather than supporting them to “develop new vocational skills and knowledge”.

British Printing Industries Federation Ltd held onto its ‘requires improvement’ grade following an early March inspection, in a report published on April 10.

“Too many” apprentices “leave early without completing their programme”, the report said, while apprentices were not developing their English and maths skills “considering their starting points”.

Apprentices were also not receiving “appropriate” careers advice to ensure they “are well informed about their next steps”.

Skillnet Limited was the only independent provider to see its grade go up this week, from three to two, in a report published April 9 and based on an inspection in mid-February.

Apprentices were found to “develop an extensive range of workplace skills” and to receive “very good support from teachers, skills coaches and their employers”.

They also “gain a range of qualifications” in addition to their apprenticeships, which “enhances their employability”.

Newcastle upon Tyne city council slipped one grade from two to three, in the only full inspection report of an adult and community learning provider published this week.

The proportion of adult learners achieving their qualifications had “declined”, and was now “too low”, inspectors noted in a report published April 12 and based on an inspection in mid-March.

A lack of “accurate information about the progress and achievement of learners” was deemed to be hampering leaders’ ability to address “several areas of improvement”.

The third early monitoring visit to a new levy-funded apprenticeship provider, published April 10, was deemed to be a success, with Jigsaw Training found to be making reasonable progress in all areas.

Meanwhile, employer provider Compass Group UK and Ireland was found to be making reasonable progress in five areas and significant progress in one, in its second monitoring visit report, published April 11, after it was rated ‘inadequate’ last summer.

Four providers held onto their grade two ratings this week following short inspections: independent learning providers Oracle Training Consultants Limited, and Training Futures (UK) Limited, and adult and community learning providers Nottingham City Council and Azure Charitable Enterprises.

GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Lincoln College13/03/201813/04/201823
Hugh Baird College26/02/201809/04/201822
RNN Group20/02/201813/04/2018MonitoringMonitoring


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Serco Limited06/03/201813/04/201832
Chamber Training (Humber) Limited26/02/201812/04/201832
British Printing Industries Federation Ltd06/03/201810/04/201833
Jigsaw Training14/03/201810/04/2018MonitoringMonitoring
Skillnet Limited20/02/201809/04/201823


Adult and Community LearningInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Newcastle upon Tyne City Council13/03/201812/04/201832


Employer providersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Compass Group UK & Ireland15/03/201811/04/2018MonitoringMonitoring


Short inspections (remains grade 2)InspectedPublished
Oracle Training Consultants Limited06/03/201813/04/2018
Training Futures (UK) Limited27/02/201811/04/2018
Nottingham City Council05/03/201812/04/2018
Azure Charitable Enterprises 06/03/201812/04/2018

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