Ofsted watch: ‘Outstanding’ start to the new year for specialist college

A specialist college retained its ‘outstanding’ grade while seven providers received grade twos in a good week for FE.

But it wasn’t without some poor reports: four private providers were found making ‘insufficient progress’ after early monitoring visits from the education watchdog.

Orchard Hill College, which until last summer was led by Caroline Allen, who was made a Dame in the Queen’s new year Honours 2020, was celebrating after keeping its grade one in a full inspection.

The college, which manages five learning centres in London and Surrey, has three-year courses for 230 adults who have an education and health care plan as well as an apprenticeship programme for 31 staff members.

Inspectors praised the “exceptionally high levels of respect, care and dignity” staff show towards students as well as how learners develop the skills and knowledge they need to live independently “exceptionally well”.

The reported added that “as a result of outstanding teaching, over time students make excellent progress” and “students receive highly effective careers information, advice and guidance”.

Heath Education England (HEE), another specialist college, received a grade two in its first inspection from the education watchdog.

It provides supported internships for 127 learners who have high needs across 14 local authorities.

It was reported that “HEE and NHS leaders and managers form highly effective partnerships, and staff work together closely to deliver supported internships which meet the individual needs of learners” – who complete work placements with NHS trusts.

Staff were also praised for ensuring that learners benefit from a curriculum that “promotes emotional and physical well-being”.

Every adult and community learner provider that received a visit from Ofsted maintained their ‘good’ grades after short inspections, in reports published this week.

These were: Adult & Community Learning Service at Islington London Borough Council, City of York Council and Hillingdon London Borough Council.

Three general FE and tertiary colleges also received a grade two from Ofsted this week.

Two, Derby College and Reaseheath College, maintained their ‘good’ grades after short inspections.

The other, Windsor Forest Colleges Group, received the rating in its first inspection after a merger between East Berkshire College and Strode’s College in 2017.

“Learners on education programmes for young people benefit from an extensive academic and vocational curriculum offer,” the report said.

“After good advice from staff, they choose programmes that meet their needs well.”

Two training companies – Active Learning & Development Limited and Empowerment Centre, Training and Consultancy Service Ltd – both received three ‘insufficient progress’ grades in their early monitoring reports.

Ofsted found that “leaders have not made sure that apprentices receive the full entitlements of an apprenticeship” at Active Learning & Development Limited, with a few disengaging and no longer want to continue.

The provider was also criticised for not putting in place “effective arrangements for quality assurance and improvements” and it was reported that a culture of safeguarding or protection within the organisation was “not embedded”.

According to the inspectorate, apprentices at the Empowerment Centre, Training and Consultancy Service Ltd have “not gained significant new knowledge, skills or behaviours,” as a result of the effective curriculum not being planned or delivered.

The report said that the “leaders do not ensure that the requirements of an apprenticeship are met”, two thirds of apprentices have left the programme and no apprentices had gained their target level 2 mathematics qualification.

Progress and attendance was also not tracked by managers, a culture of safeguarding had not been created and health and safety training has not been provided – which is “critical” as apprentices are often lone workers providing physical care to vulnerable adults.

In addition, the Chief Constable of Northumbria (Northumbria Police) received two out of three ‘insufficient progress’ grades in its early monitoring report (full story here).

Another training company, Matrix Solutions International Limited, was graded as making ‘insufficient progress’ in a follow-up monitoring report after receiving ‘insufficient progress’ across the board in its first visit.

The education watchdog concluded that safeguarding procedures had not been improved and quality assurance arrangements for subcontractors had not been strengthened.

The remaining independent learning providers that were inspected this week scored ‘reasonable progress’ in every assessed theme in their early monitoring visits.

These were: New Generation Training and Consultancy Limited, SV Academy Limited and the Square Metre Limited.


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Active Learning & Development Limited11/12/201908/01/2020MN/A
Empowerment Centre, Training and Consultancy Service Ltd06/12/201908/01/2020MN/A
Matrix Solutions International Limited12/12/201909/01/2020MM
New Generation Training and Consultancy Limited05/12/201908/01/2020MN/A
SV Academy Limited28/11/201909/01/2020MN/A
The Chief Constable of Northumbria05/12/201908/01/2020MN/A
The Square Metre Limited05/12/201906/01/2020MN/A


Adult and Community LearningInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Adult & Community Learning Service, Islington London Borough Council03/12/201908/01/202022
City of York Council27/11/201908/01/202022
Hillingdon London Borough Council05/12/201910/01/202022


Specialist collegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Health Education England12/12/201908/01/20202N/A
Orchard Hill College of Further Education28/11/201910/01/202011


General FE and tertiary collegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Derby College04/12/201907/01/202022
Reaseheath College05/12/201908/01/202022
Windsor Forest Colleges Group29/11/201906/01/20102N/A

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