Ofsted watch: Top grade for independent learning provider

An independent learning provider has boosted its grade to ‘outstanding’ – reversing a trend that has seen a number of providers lose the top accolade in recent weeks.

Ixion Holdings (Contracts) Limited received the highest grade overall and in five headline fields in a report published January 30, and based on an inspection in November.

Leaders and board members were found to have a “very clear strategic vision” for the Chelmsford-based not-for-profit provider, which delivers adult learning programmes, apprenticeships and traineeships.

“Senior leaders operate with great integrity; the organisation demonstrates substantial corporate and social responsibility through its work,” the report said.

“Excellent and fruitful partnerships” developed with a wide range of organisations had helped to “establish highly innovative learning programmes”, inspectors noted.

The “vast majority” of adult learners and trainees made “excellent progress”, thanks to “high-quality teaching and learning”.

Ixion’s apprenticeship provision was rated ‘good’ – the only area not to receive a grade one.

While the “vast majority” of apprentices “quickly develop excellent practical skills”, some had an “understanding of theoretical concepts” that was “less well developed”.

Skills Edge Training Ltd slipped a grade this week, from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’, in a report published February 2 and based on an inspection in December.

Leaders and managers were criticised for being “too slow” to take action on “all of the weaknesses identified at the previous inspection”, in 2015.

Apprentices – who make up the majority of the national provider’s learners – failed to make sufficiently good progress, with the result that “too few achieve within the timeframe allocated to them”.

Meanwhile, the small number of adult learners “make slow progress in developing their theoretical knowledge”, because teachers and assessors “do not plan and deploy effective teaching methods” in this area.

“Too many” learners and apprentices were also making “slow progress in developing the English and mathematical skills pertinent for their future prospects,” inspectors found.

In addition, the report noted: “Skills Edge managers do not assure the quality of training centres and do not routinely track and monitor learners’ progress.”


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Skills Edge Training Ltd05/12/201702/02/201832
IXION Holdings (Contracts) Limited21/11/201730/01/201812


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