Ofsted watch: College snubbed from register rated ‘outstanding’ for apprenticeships

A college that didn’t make it on to the government’s new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers has received an ‘outstanding’ grade for its apprenticeship provision – in what was otherwise a relatively quiet week for the FE sector.

The list of providers that will be eligible to deliver apprenticeships from May was published last month by the Skills Funding Agency – however, a large number of major providers of apprenticeships somehow missed out, including at least 18 colleges.

That number included Hartlepool College, with a spokesperson telling Week at the time they were “genuinely stunned” the college, with an apprenticeship allocation of almost £2.9 million, had not made it onto RoATP.

Yet Ofsted has now given the college a grade one for its apprenticeship provision, in an overall ‘good’ new report.

When invited to comment on this, Darren Hankey, principal of Hartlepool College, told FE Week: “Hartlepool College has a long and well-established of providing high quality apprenticeships. We are still shocked at the recent decision to not be allowed on to the RoATP.

It looks as though there are many other colleges in our situation“, which he added begged the question “if the process used was fit for purpose?”. When previously questioned over this issue, a Department for Education said:  “All those that applied to be on the register of training providers were given a clear set of criteria in order to receive funds for apprenticeship training, ensuring they are high quality and capable of delivering the training that young people deserve.”

Inspectors found in the report on Hartlepool College that apprentices receive “excellent support” from their teachers, and make “outstanding progress”.

It added: “Apprentices show high levels of respect for others, and are confident and articulate. They develop a high level of personal, technical and employability skills that employers need, and almost all apprentices make positive and measurable contributions to their workplace.”

The college, which trained nearly 5,000 learners last contract year, received a grade two overall following its previous inspection in 2014.

Just four other FE and skills providers had Ofsted reports published this week, including CTS Training, which slumped from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ in a report published April 3.

Inspectors found that too few learners at the private provider make the progress “of which they are capable” due to “insufficient planning for learning that is based on the identified individual needs of learners”.

The Ofsted report added that leaders at the Sheffield and Rotherham-based provider do not have a “coherent strategy” to drive improvements in English and maths across the company for staff and learners.

The provider trained nearly 3,000 learners over last contract year. To improve, inspectors said the provider needs to ensure that all tutors “understand how to use information about the needs of each learner in order to plan learning activities that support them to make good progress”.

Meanwhile, WEBS Training Limited, in Nottingham, maintained its ‘good’ rating, in a report published April 4.

Inspectors said most apprentices “successfully complete all elements of the apprenticeship framework within the planned period”, and almost all “continue to work for their employer after they have completed their studies”.

They added that leaders have taken “decisive action” to resolve most of the weaknesses identified at the last inspection in 2015.

However, in a few cases, managers at the 300-learner provider “do not provide detailed enough feedback to trainers following observations about how they can improve their practice”.

Employer provider Walsall NHS Trust, which trained just 110 learners last contract year, received a grade three. Inspectors reported that self-assessment and quality improvement planning at the provider is “not robust enough to help managers to secure and sustain high-quality provision”.

They added that the board has not yet set “clear performance indicators” for the apprenticeship programme to hold managers better to account.

Bromley London Borough Council also received a ‘requires improvement’, the same grade it achieved at its previous inspection in 2015.

To improve, leaders must “ensure that they devote more of their time to the consistent application of comprehensive and rigorous arrangements to judge the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and improve it”.

Two short inspections were also published this week, with E.Quality Training Limited in Staffordshire, and Manchester City Council retaining their grade two ratings.

And Citroen U.K. Limited was found to be making “significant progress” in its second monitoring visit since an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted report in May 2016.


GFE Colleges Inspected Published  Grade Previous grade
Hartlepool College of Further Education 07/03/2017 07/04/2017        2 2


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published  Grade Previous grade
CTS Training 21/02/2017 03/04/2017        3 2
Webs Training Limited 07/03/2017 04/04/2017        2 2


Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published  Grade Previous grade
Bromley London Borough Council 07/02/2017 03/04/2017        3 3


Employer providers Inspected Published  Grade Previous grade
Walsall NHS Trust 07/03/2017 06/04/2017        3 NA
Citroen U.K. Limited 01/03/2017 03/04/2017       M M


Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published
E.Quality Training Limited 15/03/2017 07/04/2017
Manchester City Council 27/02/2017 04/04/2017

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  1. Norman

    Shows what a shambles the RoATP fiasco has been. Senior SFA Heads should roll and those responsible should go as many colleges and ITPs will have to lay off staff so they shouldn’t be immune.

  2. Narinder Singh

    This makes a complete mockery of the new register. Too many providers with an excellent track record of delivery were excluded from the register because the people marking the applications have limited experience of first hand delivery of apprenticeships.

    If FE Week were able to highlight within hours of the register being published cases where providers should not have
    Made it onto the register why did the SFA not pick these cases up.

    Someone at the SFA needs to carry the can for this major fiasco.

  3. R. Callaghan

    What do I think? I think that the SFA has absolutely no right to exclude an Outstanding Apprenticeship provider from the Register. Depriving those employers Hartlepool College currently works with – and could work with in future – from fantastic Apprenticeship provision. Rumour has it (perhaps SFA could be asked to confirm?) that 40-50 temps were drafted in to assess applications to the Register. Which begs the further question – what greater expertise than Ofsted did they have to assess quality? I think we need to be told. SFA leaders should be hanging their heads in shame for the alimighty mess they have created. Complete and utter incompetence.

  4. Robert Blythe

    Sorry, but if you are going to run an objective and fair procurement process, and a college has not met the criteria, then surely that’s their own fault? Plenty of other Colleges managed to get on.

    I think its been very unfair what has happened since. They’ve opened up another exercise to let them have another go at it, and it now appears that, the non levy allocations have been delayed as a result.

    The SFA are a bit of a joke, to be fair, but I don’t think the way Hartlepool et al, have been treated is fair on those who have been successful!

    • I think you are missing the point. Which is the more reliable measure of quality? Of course it is the Ofsted outstanding judgement. Hartlepool College also has excellent apprenticeship achievement rates. It would not surprise me if the rumour re temps marking the applications is true. We know there was inconsistency of marking across the country. Only a fool would consider this a good measure of quality – most see it for what it is i.e. a process that is not fit for purpose.