Ofsted watch: Local authority provider shakes off inadequate rating

A council-run adult and community learning provider has managed to shake off its previous inadequate rating this week, going up to a grade three.

And a college boosted its rating from requires improvement to good across the board, in the week’s other main highlight.

Leaders at Wakefield Metropolitan District Council’s adult and community learning service were praised by inspectors for having “taken effective steps to re-shape the adult curriculum to support local and national priorities” since its previous inspection in November 2015, which resulted in an inadequate grade.

The latest report into the service, published June 21 but based on an inspection in March, found that “most learners are making good progress” but that “apprentices make slow progress because they do not have challenging targets to work towards”.

Management of the council’s apprenticeship programme was also deemed “weak”.

Milton Keynes College received a grade two across the board – up from its previous grade three – in a report published June 22 and based on a May inspection.

College leaders were lauded for making “rapid progress in building a culture of continual improvement with determination”, with the result that “staff across the college are enthusiastic and apply the improvement strategies effectively to their work”.

Inspectors found that “most students make good progress” as a result of extensive investment in “improving the standards of teaching and learning”.

Apprentices also “make good progress”, “gain valuable skills” and complete their courses on time, the report noted.

But the outcomes for other colleges were less positive this week.

Carshalton College fell to grade three from its previous ‘good’ rating, in a report published June 19 and based on an inspection in early May.

Inspectors noted that achievement rates on many college courses, “particularly GCSE English and mathematics” were “too low”.

College managers were also criticised as they “do not involve employers enough in the design, delivery or assessment of work-based apprenticeships”.

But the report also noted: “Managers help ensure that the college provides high-quality provision for learners with high needs.”

Guildford College retained the ‘requires improvement’ rating it was first awarded in June 2015, in a report published June 20 and based on an inspection in early May.

The “quality of teaching, learning and assessment” was found to be in need of improvement, while the proportion of learners achieving their qualifications was “too low”.

But the report noted that: “Governors and senior leaders now have an accurate understanding of college performance, are able to identify strengths and weaknesses and have clear and realistic plans to secure the improvements required.”

As previously reported by FE Week, Mid-Cheshire College retained the grade four it was first awarded in March last year, in a report published June 22 that lambasted the college’s performance.

Meanwhile, independent learning provider The Consultancy Home Counties Limited boosted its grade up to ‘good’ from its previous ‘requires improvement’, in a report published June 22 but based on an inspection in late April.

Inspectors praised the Hertfordshire-based provider for having “worked assiduously” to improve provision since the previous inspection, in May 2015.

“Leaders have a passionate and realistic vision which transforms the lives of young people, many from disadvantaged backgrounds,” the report said.

Two adult and community learning providers held onto their ‘good’ ratings following full inspections this week.

Apprentices at Rathbone Training make “good progress” and develop “good vocational and employability skills”, according to a report published June 23 and based on an inspection in mid-May.

Leaders at the provider, which is part of the Newcastle College Group, were also commended for having “nurtured highly effective relationships with many small- and medium-sized local enterprises, local enterprise partnerships, and large organisations nationally to provide education and training to meet sector skill priorities”.

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council’s “good range of programmes and opportunities” was found to “successfully attract and engage learners facing the greatest challenges”, in a report published June 21 and based on an inspection in late May.

Inspectors noted that “support to ensure that all learners succeed is very effective”, and the “large majority of current learners are making good progress in their learning”.

Gateway Sixth Form College was found to be making reasonable progress in five areas, and significant progress in one area, in a monitoring visit report published June 22 – the second such visit since its inadequate rating in October 2016.

Just one provider held onto its good rating following a short inspection this week – adult and community learning provider Alliance Learning.

GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Milton Keynes College23/05/201722/06/201723
Mid-Cheshire College of Further Education09/05/201722/06/201744
Guildford College of Further and Higher Ed09/05/201720/06/201733
Carshalton College09/05/201719/06/201732


Sixth Form CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Gateway Sixth Form College24/05/201722/06/2017MM


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
The Consultancy Home Counties Limited25/04/201722/06/201723


Adult and Community LearningInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council23/05/201721/06/201722
Wakefield Metropolitan District Council21/03/201721/06/201734
Rathbone Training16/05/201723/06/201722


Short inspections (remains grade 2)InspectedPublished
Alliance Learning23/05/201721/06/2017

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