Ofsted watch: College struggling ahead of demerger, as ITPs see ups and downs

A college is struggling to get up to snuff ahead of a demerger, as independent providers see ups and downs in this week’s run of Ofsted reports.

After the watchdog found them to be ‘inadequate’ last year, a recent monitoring visit judged Easton and Otley to be making ‘insufficient progress’ in ensuring learners make good or better progress in developing their English and maths skills and securing high grades in both.

It achieved ‘reasonable progress’ scores in four other areas.

The college is scheduled to be split up between City College Norwich and Suffolk New College by the end of the year, on the orders of FE Commissioner Richard Atkins.

Inspectors found that at the college, which was formed by a merger of Easton and Otley colleges, leaders and managers had been unable to recruit and retain qualified and experienced staff to teach English and maths for much of 2018/19.

“This overshadowed much of learners’ experiences, which were not good enough,” the report reads.

Managers have now recruited suitable staff, and Easton and Otley’s senior leaders and governors were noted for their “strong commitment” to ensure each learner has a good experience.

Independent learning provider JRV Associates made ‘reasonable progress’ in all three areas of a monitoring visit of its provision to 36 apprentices.

Ofsted found its leaders and managers “have a broad understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the quality of education”.

The “challenging and ambitious” curriculum means apprentices develop substantial new knowledge, skills and behaviours.

The provider has planned the contents of programmes with employers to stimulate apprentices to learn more and to meet the needs of employers and apprentices; so, a programme was redesigned to include additional maths and English classes for apprentices who spoke English as an additional language.

Aldridge Adult Learning, an independent provider to around 1,200 learners annually, made ‘insufficient progress’ in ensuring apprentices benefit from high-quality training and positive outcomes.

Managers, teachers and assessors were “unclear about how to launch and run apprenticeships,” according to the report.

Spectator safety apprentices have been in their roles for several years and had already acquired most of the knowledge and skills to carry out their roles by the time they started the programme.

The apprentices, who are employed on zero-hours contracts, do not spend enough time each week working in stewarding roles – just one day a week – and are not paid for the time they spend studying for the off-the-job part of their training.

Aldridge did make ‘reasonable progress’ in the other three areas of the monitoring visit.

The worst result of the week, however, belonged to APA Procurement Training which made ‘insufficient progress’ in every area of an early monitoring visit.

Before September, trainers did not assess apprentices’ starting points and their roles and experience “too often” match the apprenticeship – so they are not developing new skills, knowledge or behaviours.

APA’s leaders have not established effective safeguarding measures, inspectors found.

Only a small minority of apprentices can remember anything about safeguarding or the ‘Prevent’ duty from their initial induction.

But apprentices do benefit from well-planned and sequenced off-the-job training, learning around which is related well to their workplace contexts.

A number of full inspection reports, the inspections of which were conducted under Ofsted’s new framework, were published this week for Bedford College, Lakeside Early Adult Provision, Northwest Education and Training, People Solutions Training and Tyne Coast College. FE Week’s analysis of those results is here.

GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Bedford College23/09/201928/10/201922
Easton and Otley College03/10/201930/10/2019M4
Tyne Coast College08/10/201929/10/201922


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Aldridge Adult Learning10/10/201931/10/2019MN/A
APA Procurement Training Limited08/10/201928/10/2019MN/A
JRV Associates Limited09/10/201930/10/2019MN/A
Northwest Education and Training Limited (NWEAT)24/09/201929/10/20192M
People Solutions Training Limited24/09/201928/09/20193M


Sixth Form Colleges (inc 16-19 academies)InspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Thomas Rotherham College10/10/201928/10/201923


Specialist collegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Lakeside Early Adult Provision – Leap College (Wargrave House Ltd)25/09/201928/10/201923

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