Ofsted watch: Three providers drop to ‘requires improvement’

It’s been a largely disappointing week, as all three published full FE and skills inspection reports resulted in a drop from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

“Significant weaknesses” in its 16 to 19 study programmes and apprenticeships, were among the factors contributing to Northampton College’s slide to grade three, in a report published May 23 but based on an inspection April.

Quality of these programmes was found to be “not yet good enough” as “actions taken by leaders and managers” had “not yet had sufficient impact”, the report said.

Inspectors noted that “many teaching, learning and assessment activities” on study programmes “do not challenge and motivate learners to make good progress” and that these learners “develop their knowledge and understanding too slowly”.

But provision for both adult learners and those with high needs was found to be good.

Adult learners “develop their knowledge, personal and employability skills well” while learners with high needs “develop good skills for independent living and employment”, the report said.

Independent training provider Focus Training Limited was given grade three across the board in a report published May 22, and based on an inspection in late April.

The proportion of learner completing their courses on time at the Bolton-based provider was found to be “low”, and “too many learners do not achieve their full potential”, the report said.

A lack of reliable information about learners’ progress and the quality of provision meant that “board members have not supported and challenged senior managers sufficiently”.

Marson Garages (Wolstanton) Limited, an independent learning provider, was also graded as ‘requires improvement’ in all areas, in a report published May 22 and based on an inspection in April.

Leaders and managers at the Newcastle-under-Lyme-based provider were criticised for having “not secured sufficient improvements in the quality of the study programme”, while governors were unable to “challenge managers effectively” due to a lack of “sufficiently detailed reports on the study programme”.

Learners were found to be “not achieving enough of their learning aims or making sufficient progress in English and mathematics”, and “too few learners” were doing work experience.

Two monitoring visit reports were published this week, for Epping Forest College and Hereward College.

Epping Forest College was found to have been making reasonable progress in three areas, significant progress in one area – but insignificant progress in two areas, in the second monitoring visit report since it was rated ‘inadequate’ in January.

Meanwhile, Hereward College was deemed to have made reasonable progress in four areas but insufficient progress in two areas, in its second monitoring visit since it was given a grade four in November.

Just one provider, adult and community learning service Basingstoke ITEC, held onto its ‘good’ rating following a short inspection this week.


GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Epping Forest College 25/04/2017 26/05/2017 Monitoring
Hereward College 26/04/2017 24/05/2017 Monitoring
Northampton College 24/04/2017 23/05/2017 3 2


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Marson Garages (Wolstanton) Limited 25/04/2017 22/05/2017 3 2
Focus Training Limited 20/04/2017 22/05/2017 3 2


Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published
Basingstoke ITEC 04/05/2017 22/05/2017

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