Ofsted watch: Dismal week for general FE and specialist colleges

It’s been a dire week for general FE and specialist colleges, after Ofsted handed two of the former grade three ratings, and two ‘inadequate’ ratings to the latter.

Private providers fared better, after nine scored well in their monitoring visits. But there was one bad apple which was hit with a grade four.

Peterborough Regional College scored its second consecutive grade three this week, with inspectors reporting: “Too few learners and apprentices achieve their qualifications because leaders and managers have not focused sufficiently on supporting learners who are at risk of failing.”

Lambeth College trumped Peterborough’s record though, by achieving its fourth consecutive ‘requires improvement’ grade.

Priory College Swindon, a specialist college which is run by the Priory Group – a famous private hospital that has treated the likes of Kate Moss and Robbie Williams – was given a double-whammy grade four, for both its educational and residential provision.

Independent training providers received better judgements: Merit Skills Ltd, with its 110 apprentices, made ‘significant progress’ in one area, and ‘reasonable’ in two others.

Leaders were praised for effectively using their industry knowledge to provide apprentices for skills shortages.

BPP University has had a tremendous turnaround, achieving a grade two mere months after it was suspended from new starts.

The report says the provider’s leaders, managers and governors have made “rapid improvements” and rectified the majority of weaknesses from the last monitoring visit, which found it had made ‘insufficient progress’ in two areas.

Leaders were praised for designing a “highly appropriate curriculum”, where the apprenticeship programmes on offer “meet the specialist needs of their employers”.

Think Employment Ltd made ‘reasonable progress’ in four areas, having introduced “high expectations” for its eight apprentices’ attendance and behaviour.

Antrec Limited, which trains 33 adult learners, have used their funding proactively to recruit hard-to-reach and low-skilled learners, scoring three ‘reasonable progress’ ratings.

Liral Veget Training and Recruitment Limited, which has 70 adult learners, was found to have made the same progress in all areas, due to “positive, emerging” partnerships with agencies like JobCentre Plus and a local authority.

CERT Ltd, which has nine apprentices, had the same results because its apprentices follow personalised programmes and value both small class sizes and the effectiveness of the teaching.

All Inclusive Advice and Training also received three ‘reasonable progress’ ratings for its provision to one apprentice on a level 2 framework.

“The current apprentice,” inspectors wrote, “developed a better understanding of creating journals by receiving training at the provider and at work in the same week.”

AWC Training has become much more involved in determining the type and level of programme apprentices should follow over the past year; and has been awarded three ‘reasonable progress’ ratings.

Standguide Limited received the same, as its 23 adult learners develop a deeper understanding of behaviours and expectations from their tutors linking discussions with employment and job opportunities.

Letting down the sidewas Can Training, which has 150 apprentices and 27 adult learners and received an ‘inadequate’ in its very first inspection.

This means it will likely face a three-month termination of its funding contract.

“Leaders and managers do not ensure that the principles and requirements of an apprenticeship are met,” Ofsted put bluntly.

The University of Salford, which has 249 higher-level apprentices, was graded as ‘good’ in its first Ofsted inspection.

The inspectorate said leaders evaluate provision “stringently”, and their self-assessment report is accurate and evidence-based.

The University of Gloucestershire made ‘reasonable progress’ in all three areas of a monitoring visit. Its 61 apprentices develop “substantial” new knowledge and skills early on.

Employer provider Medivet, with 153 apprentices, is likely to be suspended from new starts, after it made ‘insufficient progress’ in ensuring there are effective safeguarding measures in place.

“Leaders and managers do not ensure teachers and training staff maintain high professional standards and follow routine health and safety procedures,” according to the report.

The Chief Constable of Thames Valley fared better, scoring three ‘reasonable progress’ grades for its “strong” governance arrangements and for checking its 156 apprentices’ progress against their starting points.

Kingston Upon Hull City Council scored four ‘reasonable progress’ grades, following a grade three report in October.

Specialist college Chatsworth Futures Limited, which provides to 12 learners with education, health and care plans, was the subject of a monitoring visit to set priorities for improvement.

These included ensuring health and safety remain a high priority. Ofsted said it was making good progress.

Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Can Training20/05/201925/06/20194N/A
Think Employment Limited29/05/201926/06/2019MN/A
Antrec Limited29/05/201926/06/2019MN/A
Liral Veget Training and Recruitment Limited30/05/201925/06/2019MN/A
BPP University Ltd20/05/201926/06/20192M
Merit Skills Ltd21/05/201925/06/2019MN/A
CERT Ltd14/05/201925/06/2019MN/A
All Inclusive Advice and Training31/05/201927/06/2019MN/A
AWC Training06/06/201924/06/2019MN/A
Standguide Limited29/09/201925/06/2019MN/A


Adult and Community LearningInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Kingston Upon Hull City Council12/05/201927/06/2019M3


Employer providersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
The Chief Constable of Thames Valley12/06/201926/06/2019MN/A


Other (including UTCs)InspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
University of Salford14/05/201926/06/20192N/A
University of Gloucestershire31/05/201928/06/2019MN/A


Specialist collegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Chatsworth Futures Limited13/05/201924/05/2019M3
Priory College Swindon22/05/201927/06/201942

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