Ofsted watch: South Essex College bumped up to ‘good’ after 90-day wait

A major college has been bumped up from a grade three to a two by Ofsted, in a report that was finally published after a 90-day delay, while Pizza Hut’s FE skills training has been rated ‘requires improvement’.

South Essex College, which teaches around 11,500 students, received a ‘good’ overall grade in a report published on August 7, after three consecutive previous reports since 2012 said it ‘requires improvement’.

FE Week understands that the delay was as a result of an “extended quality assurance process” after the new grade two was challenged.

However, it has at last been rated ‘good’ in every headline field Ofsted looks at save one, adult learning programmes, which was given a grade three.

Inspectors said apprentices and learners on vocational courses develop “skills that prepare them well for progression to the next steps of learning or employment” and more learners “now complete and achieve their qualifications than at the time of the previous inspection”.

Ofsted highlighted the “large numbers” of learners who study at level three, as well as the many apprentices in subcontracted provision, who are “particularly successful”.

Managers have taken “effective steps” to raise learners’ progress and attainment in English and maths this current year, but inspectors said low attendance in these subjects means that too many learners are still “not making sufficient progress, particularly in maths”.

Ofsted also said that too few learners sitting A-levels at the college “achieve their qualifications”. South Essex College is in the bottom four per cent of the country for its A-level provision.

Meanwhile Pizza Hut was given a grade three across the board for its delivery of skills training.

The employer-provider currently trains around 60 apprentices on intermediate and advanced apprenticeships in the hospitality and catering sector.

Ofsted found that too many apprentices did not achieve their qualifications in 2015/16 and, although current apprentices “make the progress expected of them”, too many have left their programmes early in 2016/17.

Leaders “do not self-assess” the quality of their apprenticeship provision “effectively, particularly with their subcontracted provision” and as a result, improvement planning and intervention have been “too slow”.

However, inspectors did note that the “vast majority” of apprentices develop good technical skills, which they use “assuredly” in their teams, and their employers “greatly appreciate” the value they bring to the business.

Ofsted added that apprentices enrolled on the new standards apprenticeship programme make “good progress” because of “high-quality” coaching and mentoring from their employers.

Learners gain good practical skills, such as how to slice a pizza correctly and how best to present food to their customers, as well as “theoretical competence”.

Norfolk Training Services Limited meanwhile had its first monitoring visit since it was given an ‘inadequate’ rating in May.

Inspectors said that since the inspection, leaders have established a quality improvement plan that features a “comprehensive range of actions to rectify all the weaknesses identified at inspection”.

Managers have “intensified” their actions to support and challenge tutors whose practice was as below expectations, and leaders have “refined” the role of a part-time employed equality and diversity officer and “increased the specific focus” on leading the promotion of British values to apprentices and learners.

Four other providers, Hertfordshire County Council, Maritime + Engineering College North West, John Laing Training and Buzz Learning Limited, held onto their ‘good’ grades following short inspections this week.


GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
South Essex College 09/05/2017 07/08/2017 2



Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Norfolk Training Services Limited 06/07/2017 10/08/2017 M M


Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Pizza Hut 06/06/2017 08/08/2017 3


Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published
Hertfordshire County Council 21/07/2017 07/08/2017
Maritime + Engineering College North West 14/06/2017 10/08/2017
John Laing Training Ltd 28/06/2017 08/08/2017
Buzz Learning Limited 05/07/2017 07/08/2017

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