Ofsted watch: Trio of providers lose ‘outstanding’ grades

Three providers have lost their ‘outstanding’ grades this week – while another earned the lowest possible grade at its first ever inspection.

Selby College, St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College and Aspire Training Team Limited all fell from grade one, while City of London College Centre for Advanced Studies was branded ‘inadequate’.

In its first full Ofsted visit for more than 10 years, Selby College was rated ‘good’ across the board in a report published on January 18 and based on an inspection in early December.

Leaders and managers at the college – which had held its previous grade since November 2007 – were praised for creating a “positive culture and ethos of tolerance and respect” and managing the “financial position of the college carefully”.

But while the 16-to-19 study programmes were deemed to “prepare learners very effectively for their next steps”, not enough of the teaching, learning and assessment on the programmes “challenges the most able learners sufficiently”.

And managers’ failure to “accurately” identify areas for improvement meant that any actions taken to address the issues were not “precise enough”.

St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College fell to ‘requires improvement’ also from a grade one it had held for more than 10 years, in a report based on an inspection in early December and published January 18.

“Too few” A-level students “achieve the grades expected of them” – with achievement rates having “recently declined on the majority of courses”.

Managers were criticised for failing to use their observations to “secure improvements in teachers’ practice”, while governors were found not to be using the information they received from managers “well enough to support and challenge the senior leaders effectively”.

But inspectors noted that high-needs students and those in need of extra help were “very well” supported, and students’ behaviour was “excellent”.

Aspire Training Team Limited was rated grade two across the board in a report published this week, in its first inspection since it was rated ‘outstanding’ eight years ago.

The “vast majority” of learners at the Bournemouth provider, which mainly delivers apprenticeships, “make good progress and secure full-time employment with their current employer” – and “most” also “grow in confidence quickly”.

Directors and managers were praised for providing “good development and training for staff which improve their skills in teaching and management”.

But inspectors also noted: “Learners’ achievement of functional skills qualifications in English, mathematics and information communications technology is not high enough.”

City of London College Centre for Advanced Studies was heavily criticised in a report, published January 15 and based on an inspection in late November, that branded it ‘inadequate’ in all areas.

Leadership and management at the independent learning provider was deemed “weak”, while safeguarding arrangements were found “ineffective”.

“Governors are not effective in holding leaders and managers to account and do not ensure that learners receive a good learning experience,” the report said.

There was better news for Leicester College and Lakes College – West Cumbria this week, as both went up a grade from three to two.

Leaders and managers at Leicester College were found to have “effectively tackled” the main areas of improvement identified at its last inspection, in a report published January 19 and based on a visit in early December.

The “large majority” of students make “good progress” thanks to “challenging and stimulating learning”, while apprentices “develop good work-related skills, which employers value”.

However, “too few” apprentices finished their courses on time.

Governors and senior leaders at Lakes College were praised for promoting a “culture of high expectations”, in a report published January 18 and based on a visit in early December.

Courses at the college “meet local, regional and national skills priorities very well” thanks to “highly effective partnerships with local and regional stakeholders”, the report said.

Learners’ and apprentices’ achievement was found to be “good”, and they “develop successfully the practical skills and technical knowledge they need for work”.

The Consortium of Vocational and Educational Trainers Limited held onto its grade two this week, in a report based on an inspection in mid-December and published January 19.

Apprentices at the Oxfordshire-based independent learning provider “develop a very good range of technical skills that prepare them well for working in prestige car dealerships”, and “benefit from supportive and effective off-the-job training”.

The small number of adult learners at the provider make “good progress and swiftly achieve their qualifications”, the report said.

City College Nottingham, an independent learning provider, received a grade three following its first inspection in late November.

The report, published January 17, noted that “quality assurance and improvement arrangements lack rigour”, and failed to “secure consistently high standards of teaching, learning and assessment”.

A “minority” of lessons were “uninspiring”, while learners’ “attendance and punctuality” was “too low.

However, managers were praised for developing a “curriculum that supports social and economic inclusion”.

The Workers’ Educational Association also held onto its grade two this week, following a short inspection.

GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Leicester College05/12/201719/01/201823
Selby College05/12/201718/01/201821
Lakes College – West Cumbria05/12/201718/01/201823


Sixth Form CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College05/12/201718/01/201831


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Consortium of Vocational and Educational Trainers Ltd12/12/201719/01/201822
City College Nottingham28/11/201717/01/20183
Aspire Training Team Limited05/12/201715/01/201821
City of London College Centre for Advanced Studies29/11/201715/01/20184


Short inspections (remains grade 2)InspectedPublished
Workers Educational Association29/11/201717/01/2018

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