Ofsted watch: Success for employer-provider but college falls two grades from ‘outstanding’

An employer-provider has boosted its grade to ‘good’ in a mixed week for the FE sector, as Highbury College dramatically dropped two ratings from ‘outstanding’.

Be Wiser Insurance Services was rated grade two across the board, up from its previous ‘requires improvement’ rating.

The main reason for its achievement was put down to a reduction in the scale of its apprenticeship provision since the last inspection – from 475 to just 31.

All current learners are on apprenticeships in financial services.

“Leaders have taken prompt and decisive action to improve the quality of apprenticeships and have successfully addressed the areas identified as requiring improvement at the previous inspection and through their self-assessment,” Ofsted said.

“Potential apprentices start as full-time employees and benefit from excellent information, advice and guidance during a five-week ‘take the first steps towards a career’ period, before they make the decision to enrol on the apprenticeship programmes.”

Inspectors added that during their off-the-job training, apprentices benefit from “good-quality teaching and learning supported by high-quality training resources”.

Continuing with the ‘good’ news, two adult and community learning providers retained their grade two ratings following short inspections this week.

These were achieved by Durham County Council and Medway Council.

Meanwhile, one private training provider based in Stockton-On-Tees – KT Associates – was found to be making “reasonable progress” in its first monitoring visit since its ‘inadequate’ rating in December.

Safeguarding at the small loans-only provider, which had 220 learners at the time of inspection in December, was the main focus of the monitoring visit after it was previously found to be “not effective”.

However, Ofsted inspectors found that “following the previous inspection, leaders swiftly revised their policies and procedures relating to safeguarding and these are now compliant with the most recent legislation”.

All current policies are now “fit for purpose”.

Leaders “quickly held a series of workshops” for staff and learners around “conflict resolution, staying safe at work, broader safeguarding issues and the ‘Prevent’ duty”.

Onto the not so good news: Highbury College dropped two grades from ‘outstanding’ in an Ofsted report that branded its teaching “uninspiring” and raised concern over low attendance.

It was deemed to be grade one when the watchdog last inspected in 2011.

“Leaders and governors have been slow to reverse the college’s decline in performance,” the new report warned.

Leaders’ and managers’ “evaluation of the quality of provision, particularly teaching, learning and assessment” is “overoptimistic”, though governors were recognised for having a “good oversight” of most areas of the college.

Inspectors warned that “overall performance has declined and they have not been effective in challenging and supporting senior leaders to stem this decline”.

“Too much teaching is uninspiring and attendance at most lessons is low.”

The verdict was a serious blow to a heavily criticised leadership team led by Stella Mbubaegbu, who insisted that the college has “already embarked on our journey back to ‘outstanding’”.

Lastly, one independent learning provider also achieved an overall ‘requires improvement’ rating.

Eurosource Solutions Limited, based in Staffordshire, was given the grade three in its first ever inspection.

It has 141 adult learners enrolled on certificate and diploma courses in health and social care, early years and supporting teaching and learning.

“Leaders have not implemented quickly enough the actions needed to improve the quality of adult learning programmes,” inspectors said.

They also criticised the provider for not having a governing body, which means leaders are “not challenged or held to account for improving the quality of adult learning programmes”.

“Training advisers set imprecise and vague targets with learners,” Ofsted found. “As a result, too many learners do not make the progress expected of them.”


GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Highbury College23/04/201807/06/302831


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Eurosource Solutions Limited01/05/201808/06/201830
KT Associates01/05/201807/06/2018MM


Employer providersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Be Wiser Insurance Services15/05/201806/06/201823


Short inspections (remains grade 2)InspectedPublished
Durham County Council01/05/201808/06/2018
Medway Council02/05/201808/06/2018

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