Ofsted watch: Fire and rescue provider brings the heat

A fire and rescue provider received a glowing report from Ofsted this week after receiving ‘significant progress’ ratings across the board, in what was otherwise a mixed week for FE.

Staffordshire Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority, which has 20 apprentices, was praised in its early monitoring visit for “setting high expectations for their apprenticeship programme”, and for offering training which is “meticulous and exacting”.

For instance, apprentices are taught how to use ‘Jaws of Life’ safely to pry open and free people trapped in their vehicles, and how to search for and rescue a casualty from a building filled with smoke and fire using breathing apparatus.

A good week has also been had by The Education and Skills Partnership, an independent provider to 94 apprentices and 39 adult learners.

It received a grade two this week from the watchdog, after being found to have made ‘insufficient progress’ in two areas during its previous early monitoring visit.

This time around, inspectors found: “Directors and managers have acted swiftly and decisively to deal with the weaknesses identified at the monitoring visit.”

This involved improving the English and maths elements of the apprenticeship programme by developing and implemented a new strategy, and ensuring learning and skills coaches have updated their skills in these areas where necessary.

The Education and Skills Partnership has been suspended from recruiting since its poor early monitoring report, but should have this ban lifted following its successful full inspection.

Fellow independent provider Learning Concepts scored ‘significant progress’ findings in two areas, thanks in part to a highly effective partnership with Jobcentre Plus to provide programmes to ten adult learners.

These learners benefit from access to other courses such as security licence, fork-lift truck licence and licence to work on a construction site, which enables them to gain employment.

Elsewhere, Oxford Energy Academy was found to have made ‘significant progress’ for the progress leaders and managers have made in ensuring apprentices benefit from high-quality training that leads to positive outcomes.

Teachers use a high-level of industry expertise to enthuse the just under 40 enrolled apprentices, who have a detailed knowledge of what skills they need to develop and how to achieve them.

However, several providers have landed themselves in hot water by making ‘insufficient progress’ in areas of their early monitoring visits.

Gower College Swansea, which provides to 57 apprentices in England, made such progress in all three areas.

This was for not ensuring all 57 apprentices receive training in safeguarding and Prevent and for leaders’ self-assessment of the quality of provision being “insufficiently evaluative,” inspectors wrote.

The college told FE Week: “We accept Ofsted’s findings and are confident that we can make the necessary improvements to enhance the service we offer to our apprentices and employers in England.”

Any Driver made ‘insufficient progress’ in two areas of its provision to 67 adult learners, after being handed a grade three at a previous inspection.

Their latest report reads: “Senior leaders have failed to implement external scrutiny of the provision.

“Leaders did not understand fully the value of this recommendation from the previous inspection and have not made any progress to implement relevant actions.”

However, the independent provider made ‘reasonable progress’ in safeguarding and for assessors supporting and challenging each learner to achieve the best of their ability.

Independent provider Azesta made ‘reasonable progress’ in safeguarding, but ‘insufficient progress’ in two other areas.

It provides to 62 apprentices, but inspectors discovered the provider does not monitor the time apprentices are given for off-the-job training closely enough.

The company that employs around half of Azesta’s apprentices does not allow sufficient study time during working hours, so the provider’s director has decided to cease recruitment with them.

CARE-EX Services received the same results this week as Azesta for its provision to 74 apprentices.

Ofsted found leaders check prior qualifications, but not prior skills, so “too many” apprentices are not learning new skills, or gaining accreditation for existing skills.

Nor do leaders not make adequate plans for apprentices to take end-point assessment.

Numerous other providers received ‘reasonable progress’ ratings across the board in early monitoring visits. These were: Activ First Limited, Advance Care Training Limited, Alan Hester Associates Limited, Engage Training and Development Ltd, Further Training Limited, MYF Training Limited, Netcom Training, Sigma UK Group Limited, Stepping Stones Education and Training Limited, WMC Training, The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Metro Bank Plc, Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire), South London And Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Activ First Limited15/08/201911/09/2019MN/A
Advance Care Training Limited21/08/201913/09/2019MN/A
Alan Hester Associates Limited08/08/201911/09/2019MN/A
Any Driver Limited21/08/201913/09/2019M3
Azesta Limited15/08/201911/09/2019MN/A
CARE-EX Services01/08/201911/09/2019MN/A
Engage Training and Development Ltd22/08/201911/09/2019MN/A
Further Training Limited29/08/201913/09/2019MN/A
Gower College Swansea08/08/201911/09/2019MN/A
Learning Concepts Ltd08/08/201913/09/2019MN/A
MYF Training Limited07/08/201913/09/2019MN/A
Netcom Training22/08/201911/09/2019MN/A
Oxford Energy Academy Limited13/09/201909/09/2013MN/A
Sigma UK Group Limited15/08/201913/09/2019MN/A
Stepping Stones Education and Training Limited15/09/201910/09/2019MN/A
The Education and Skills Partnership Ltd13/08/201913/09/20192M
WMC Training14/08/201912/09/2019MN/A


Employer providersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust15/08/201911/09/2019MN/A
Metro Bank Plc13/08/201911/09/2019MN/A
Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire)14/08/201909/09/2019MN/A
South London And Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust08/08/201911/09/2019MN/A
Staffordshire Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority30/09/201913/09/2019MN/A

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