Three providers have been branded ‘inadequate’ in a tough week for the FE and skills sector.

Land-based provider Easton and Otley College, independent provider EQL Solutions Limited and employer provider Compass Group UK & Ireland have all been given the lowest possible grade.

Easton and Otley College was rated grade four in all areas except effectiveness of leadership and management, and apprenticeships – both given grade three – in a report published July 20 and based on an inspection carried out in May.

“Too many students” on study programmes were found to “not make the progress of which they are capable”, while adult learners “do not benefit from effective, well-planned teaching, learning and assessment”.

Consequently, “too few” learners “achieved their qualifications”, with the proportion having “declined in recent years”.

Leaders and managers were also criticised for failing to act “swiftly to bring about improvements to the provision in order to ensure that students and apprentices make good progress”.

Governance and management at EQL Solutions Limited came in for heavy criticism in a report published July 19 and based on an inspection in March.

The Warrington-based provider was rated inadequate in all areas except adult learning, with governors and leaders slammed for failing to “eradicate the weaknesses identified at the previous inspection”.

The “strategic and operational management of subcontractors” was deemed “requires improvement”, as was the “performance management of staff at every level”.

Apprentice achievement rates had “declined significantly” since the previous inspection – but unemployed adult learners were found to “make good progress”.

Meanwhile, employer provider Compass Group UK & Ireland was handed grade fours across the board in a report published June 20 and based on an inspection in June.

“Few” line managers were found to be “engaged in the apprenticeship programme” while UK directors “do not have a clear understanding of the performance of apprenticeship delivery”.

Consequently, most apprentices “make slow progress” as a result of “operational restructuring, changes of assessors, poorly planned learning and a lack of time at work to devote to their apprenticeship”.

Leaders were also criticised for failing to “manage rigorously enough” the subcontractor’s performance.

Three providers slipped one grade from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ – independent providers TQ Workforce Development Limited and Archway Academy, along with adult and community learning provider NACRO.

A significant decline in apprenticeship achievement rates was among the issues highlighted for TQ Workforce Development, in a report published July 19 and based on a June inspection.

Leaders and managers were deemed “slow to implement actions to improve teaching, learning and assessment” while learners’ and apprentices’ progress was “hindered” due to a lack of “challenging, detailed targets based on their individual starting points”.

Issues with data collection and progress monitoring were among those pulling Archway Academy down, in a report published July 19 and based on an inspection in June.

“Too few” tutors were “sufficiently demanding” of learners, and many did not “use results of learners’ initial assessment and education, health and care plans sufficiently well to plan learning that meets all learners’ individual education and training needs”.

Meanwhile, the report into Nacro – published July 19 and based on an inspection in May – singled out problems with the community learning and skills provider’s study programmes.

Poor design of the programmes that failed to allow “sufficient consideration of the personal circumstances that often prevent learners from being able to maintain a commitment to year-long study programmes” led to “too few learners” achieving their qualifications.

Former sixth form college Totton College, which is now part of Nacro, was also rated as ‘requires improvement’ in a separate report published July 18 and based on a June inspection.

Learners’ progress was being impeded by “low” attendance and teachers who had “insufficiently high expectations of their learners” – with the result that achievement rates were “too low”.

Just two providers were found to be ‘good’ overall this week following full inspections – one of which, Learning Skills Partnership Ltd, went up from grade three, while the other, Smart Training and Recruitment Ltd, held on to its grade two.

Leaders and managers at Learning and Skills Partnership Ltd were praised for having “overseen significant improvements” at the Hull-based independent provider, and for having a “clear and carefully considered vision”, in a report published July 19 and based on an inspection in June.

The “vast majority” of apprentices benefitted from “well-planned and effective teaching, learning and assessment”, leading to “the development of good occupational skills which their employers value highly”.

The standard of apprentices’ work at Smart Training and Recruitment Limited was deemed “good”, with the “large majority” making good progress on their programmes, in a report published July 18 and based on an inspection in June.

The “excellent relationships” developed by “very ambitious” leaders and managers at the Isle of Wight-based independent provider have enabled them to “deliver high-quality programmes that meet local and regional needs and the needs of apprentices”.

Eight providers held onto their grade two following a short inspection this week – independent learning providers Introtrain (ACE) Limited, Midland Group Training Services Limited, and Health & Safety Training Limited, and adult and community learning providers Building Crafts College, Southampton City Council, Derby Skillbuild, Derbyshire Adult and Community Education Service, and Cheshire East Council.

And finally, a monitoring visit report into safeguarding at Lewisham Southwark College was published this week, which found all aspects of safeguarding to be effective.

GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Lewisham Southwark College 21/06/2017 21/07/2017 M M
Easton & Otley College 15/05/2017 20/07/2017 4 2
Totton College (Part of Nacro) 06/06/2017 18/07/2017 3


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
TQ Workforce Development Limited 13/06/2017 19/07/2017 3 2
Archway Academy 27/06/2017 19/07/2017 3 2
Learning Skills Partnership Ltd 19/06/2017 19/07/2017 2 3
EQL Solutions Limited 28/03/2017 19/07/2017 4 3
Smart Training and Recruitment Limited 13/06/2017 18/07/2017 2 2


Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
NACRO 09/05/2017 19/07/2017 3



Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Compass Group UK & Ireland 13/06/2017 20/07/2017 4 2


Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published
Building Crafts College 13/06/2017 20/07/2017
Southampton City Council 27/06/2017 20/07/2017
Derby Skillbuild 29/06/2017 19/07/2017
Derbyshire Adult Community Education Service 21/06/2017 19/07/2017
Cheshire East Council 14/06/2017 19/07/2017
Introtrain (ACE) Limited 20/06/2017 20/07/2017
Midland Group Training Services Limited 21/06/2017 20/07/2017
Health & Safety Training Limited 21/06/2017 19/07/2017

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