Ofsted watch: Providers enjoy grades boost in good week for FE

A host of providers jumped up Ofsted grades in what was a mostly impressive week for FE – but a university technical college with just 143 students came in for criticism.

Two large colleges – City of Bristol College and North Shropshire College – clawed their way out of ‘inadequate’ and have now been rated grade three in reports published June 5.

For the former, which was rated grade four 17 months ago, inspectors recognised that “senior leaders have recruited specialist managers and staff with relevant skills and experience”.

They said the college now had “strong leadership”, while at the time of the previous inspection, it “was in a precarious financial situation – the principal [Lee Probert] was new, the senior leadership team was incomplete”, and staff and learners’ expectations were low.

North Shropshire College, which was rated ‘inadequate’ last January, was graded three for all areas in the latest report, except adult learning programmes which was ‘good’.

It was positive about learners’ personal development, behaviour and welfare, saying “they develop a wide range of skills that support them to move successfully to their next steps into further learning or employment”.

Inspectors added governors and senior leaders had transformed the college’s approach to protecting learners. “A strong culture of safeguarding now permeates the college at all levels,” the report said.

Also showing solid improvement was private training providers Meadowhall Training Limited and Training Synergy Limited, who both went from grade three to two.

Meadowhall, which is based in Sheffield, was given ‘good’ across the board and was recognised for its “ambitious” leaders who have “successfully tackled the areas for improvement identified at the previous inspection”.

Training Synergy, based in London, received ‘good’ in every category except for in personal development, behaviour and welfare, where the provider was deemed ‘outstanding’.

Inspectors said apprentices have an “excellent understanding and appreciation of the significance of adopting and developing professional standards in their learning programme”, and are “highly motivated, enjoy their learning and take great pride in their work”.

To make the jump up to outstanding, the college needs to “further improve retention” by ensuring that all apprentices and employers have a “clear understanding of the programme requirements, and receive appropriate information, advice and guidance throughout the apprenticeship, including for those at risk of leaving early”.

Urban Futures London Limited, an adult and community learning provider, also went from a grade three to two.

Since the previous inspection, senior leaders, managers and staff have “worked tirelessly and successfully to tackle the majority of areas for improvement”, inspectors said.

Total People Limited also received a ‘good’ rating, retaining is grade two from 2013.

The Cheshire-based adult and community learning provider was praised for having the “majority” of apprentices making good progress and achieving their apprenticeship within the planned timeframe.

Inspectors also found that support for learners and apprentices with “multiple and complex barriers to learning is excellent”.

But it wasn’t good news for Sir Charles Kao UTC, which was rated ‘requires improvement’ across the board in its first ever Ofsted inspection.

Inspectors said leaders at the college, which only has 143 learners, have “not done enough to ensure that teaching, learning and assessment are good across all subjects”. Therefore, students’ progress is “inconsistent”.

The watchdog added that some teachers “do not have high enough expectations” of what students can achieve, and “do not manage their behaviour consistently well”. Consequently, inspectors said, some students “disrupt the learning of others”.

CVQO Ltd, an adult and community learning provider operating across England, also received a grade three in its first ever Ofsted inspection.

Inspectors said trustees, leaders and managers do not have “sufficiently reliable data to enable them to identify trends in learners’ achievement, attendance and progress or to evaluate the full impact of their initiatives to improve provision”.

Meanwhile Boots Opticians Professional Services Ltd in Birmingham, maintained a grade three.

Managers at the employer provider “do not have a firm grip” on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment and “how to make ongoing improvements”, inspectors said.

In monitoring visits, Norman Mackie & Associates Limited, and independent training provider in Stalybridge, and Stockport College were found to be making “reasonable progress” following previous ‘inadequate’ ratings in November 2016.


GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Stockport College 04/05/2017 09/06/2017 M M
City of Bristol College  16/05/2017 05/06/2017 3 4
North Shropshire College 09/05/2017 05/06/2017 3 4


Sixth Form Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Newham Sixth Form College 16/05/2017 08/06/2017 M M


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Meadowhall Training Limited 09/05/2017 08/06/2017 2 3
Training Synergy Limited 09/05/2017 07/06/2017 2 3
Norman Mackie & Associates Limited 17/05/2017 06/06/2017 M M


Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
CVQO Ltd 08/05/2017 09/06/2017 3
Total People Limited 08/05/2017 08/06/2017 2 2
Urban Futures London Limited 09/05/2017 08/06/2017 2 3


Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Boots Opticians Professional Services Ltd 09/05/2017 07/06/2017 3 3


Other (including UTCs) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Sir Charles Kao UTC 25/05/2017 08/06/2017 3

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