Ofsted Watch: Two ‘inadequate’ providers make slow improvement

Two ‘inadequate’ training providers in Essex are making “reasonable progress” in improving their grades, but still have a long way to go in pulling themselves away from Ofsted’s lowest possible rating.

In what was a quiet week for FE inspections, Epping Forest College and Essex County Council each had their third monitoring visit reports published following their grade fours, which were first revealed in January and February this year respectively.

There was only one full inspection, but it did not make for easy reading as Chesterfield-based NLT Training fell from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’, which FE Week reported on Tuesday.

Epping, which teaches nearly 3,000 learners, was lauded for making “significant progress” in ensuring that all safeguarding arrangements for all groups of learners are “effective”.

However, “insufficient progress” is being made in “swiftly” improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment.

“Too often, teachers do not take into account the starting points of their learners to ensure that they set them demanding tasks and activities that challenge them to excel,” inspectors said.

“In lessons, too many learners are left to become bored when they have completed tasks that they have found too easy.”

Some teachers’ presentations, resources and materials contain “spelling, punctuation and grammar errors”, Ofsted added.

Insufficient progress is also being made in ensuring that learners’ attendance, punctuality and behaviour are “good”.

It was better news for the college’s work in strengthening the “observation” of teachers’ practice to “drive improvements in teaching, learning and assessment”, and ensuring that the progress of learners and apprentices is monitored “rigorously” and leaders “understand accurately” the strengths and weaknesses of the provision.

Epping was also found to be making “reasonable progress” to ensure that leaders work “effectively” with the local enterprise partnership, employers and community organisations to “ensure that the range and content of all provision is aligned to local and regional priorities”.

Over at Essex County Council, leaders was praised for “rapidly improving” the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and ensuring that the observation of tutors’ practice is “fit for purpose and secures improvements”.

Leaders’ self-assessment is now “robust and appropriately self-critical” and “drives effective action planning that secures sustainable improvement” leaders now provide county councillors with “accurate information on performance so that county councillors challenge them effectively”.

“Significant progress” was found to be made in safeguarding arrangements.

“Leaders have established a regional safeguarding peer group comprising local authority community learning and skills providers to peer-assess safeguarding arrangements and share good practice,” Ofsted explained.

“All staff have conducted safeguarding and ‘Prevent’ duty training since the inspection of December 2016. Nearly all staff have also undertaken further training on the promotion of online safety.”

NLT Training, an independent training provider with around 250 learners, received the lowest possible grade across the board from Ofsted.

It is now trying to get taken over by WEBS Training Ltd, a Nottingham-based furniture training provider rated ‘good’ in April this year to save the business.

Sarah Temperton, NLT’s chief, said she was “extremely disappointed” at the Ofsted verdict, and that she would be “challenging them at a number of levels”.

Declining achievement rates at NLT, which specialises in engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships and study programmes, were among the issues dragging it down in the report.

“A large proportion of apprentices have not completed their apprenticeship by the planned end dates, many of which were unrealistic,” it said.

Achievement rates among study programme learners were deemed to be “very low”, as was the rate at which these learners “successfully progress to further education, training or employment”.

Elsewhere there was one provider – Baltic Training Services Ltd in Durham – which kept its ‘good’ rating in a short inspection.


GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Epping Forest College 14/11/2017 14/12/2017 M M


Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Essex County Council 31/10/2017 11/12/2017 M M
NLT Training Services Ltd 31/10/2017 12/12/2017 4 2


Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published
Baltic Training Services Limited 08/11/2017 14/12/2017



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