Ofsted watch: Two providers climb out of ‘inadequate’ but one slumps the other way

Two training providers pulled themselves away from ‘inadequate’ ratings this week, but one went the other way and plummeted to the inspectorate’s lowest possible grade.

The Wiltshire Council and Norman Mackie & Associates Ltd, based in Manchester, both received the good news they were hoping for and climbed from a grade four to a three.

Start Training Ltd, however, didn’t fare so well and dropped dramatically from a two to four.

Inspectors praised Wiltshire Council managers for making “good” progress in carrying out the recommendations from its previous inspection; “consequently, the service has the capacity to improve further”.

They added that a “well-designed curriculum” engages well learners who are “disadvantaged and those with low confidence and few qualifications”.

To improve even further, Ofsted said tutors at the council should ensure that the advice and guidance they give to learners before they start their courses “take account of their circumstances and that learners fully understand the information given to them”.

“The discussion should include longer term goals to raise learners’ aspirations,” it added.

Over in Manchester, Ofsted lauded Norman Mackie & Associates’ leaders for setting high expectations for learners and staff.

“Staff have established a culture in which learners respect each other and understand the importance of valuing diversity,” inspectors said.

Effective coaching by tutors enables learners to become more independent and confident, they added.

However, managers’ self-assessment is not “forensic enough” to identify precise weaknesses in order to “ensure that the improvement plan contains the right actions to rectify the areas that require improvement”.

The provider should address this fault in order to improve further, Ofsted said.

Start Training, which is based in Greater Manchester and trains around 500 apprentices in health and social care, dental nursing, administration and business management, received ‘inadequate’ ratings across the board.

The proportion of apprentices who gain their qualifications is “low” and “too many” do not complete within the agreed timescale, inspectors said.

“Assessors do not collect and use information about apprentices’ existing vocational skills and knowledge to plan for their individual training and development.

“Assessors do not review and record accurately the progress of individual apprentices throughout their training; they do not involve employers in reviewing apprentices’ development in a meaningful way.”

Meanwhile, two adult and community learning providers – Bracknell Forest Borough Council and St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council – went from a grade three to a much healthier two.

At Bracknell, Ofsted said leaders have taken “successful action” to improve learners’ achievement rates and these are now high.

And at St Helens, managers were praised for their “high expectations” of staff and learners.

“They are clearly ambitious to provide an outstanding service for learners,” inspectors said.

It was also ‘good’ news for Sussex Coast College Hastings as it retained its grade two in a full inspection.

To improve to ‘outstanding’, inspectors said the college needs to ensure that leaders, managers and teachers “carry out their plans to improve the skills of level two and GCSE maths teachers so that they can better prepare students for their examinations and help them develop their skills”.

Leeds College of Building didn’t receive the same applause as it dropped from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

Ofsted said that leaders do not use self-assessment or quality improvement processes “well enough” to improve the quality of provision and outcomes for students.

It also pointed out that “too many” students who complete level one study programmes do not progress to a higher level.

The troubled UTC Plymouth had its second monitoring visit report published since its damning grade four in June 2016.

Inspectors said that leaders are taking “effective action” towards the removal of special measures and the school’s action plan is “fit for purpose”.

Ofsted recommended that the UTC does not appoint newly qualified teachers before the next monitoring inspection.

Four short inspections were also published this week, where providers maintained their ‘good’ ratings.

These were received by North Kent College, Stockton Riverside College, Rewards Training Recruitment Consultancy Ltd, in Crawley, and King Edward VI College Nuneaton.


GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Leeds College of Building28/11/201710/01/201832
Sussex Coast College Hastings28/11/201711/01/201822


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Norman Mackie & Associates Limited28/11/201709/01/201834
Start Training Ltd29/11/201711/01/201842


Adult and Community LearningInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
The Wiltshire Council05/12/201710/01/201834
Bracknell Forest Borough Council22/11/201711/01/201823
St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council05/12/201712/01/201823


Other (including UTCs)InspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
UTC Plymouth05/12/201708/01/2018MM


Short inspections (remains grade 2)InspectedPublished
North Kent College29/11/201709/01/2018
Stockton Riverside College21/11/201710/01/2018
Rewards Training Recruitment Consultancy05/12/201712/01/2018
King Edward VI College Nuneaton21/11/201710/01/2018


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