Ofsted watch: Two providers crash two grades to inadequate

Ofsted has hit the headlines over the publication of its damning grade four-overall verdict on FE giant Learndirect – during a week which also saw another provider slump to ‘inadequate’.

Reports into both UK Training and Development Limited and Learndirect Limited were published on August 17, and were both based on inspections carried out almost five months ago.

Ineffective safeguarding arrangements and poor progress among 16- to 18-year-old apprentices were among the issues that dragged down the former, based in Hertfordshire.

The report, based on an inspection carried out from March 29 to 30, and from April 6 and 7, awarded the provider inadequate overall and for effectiveness of leadership and management, but grade three in all other areas.

Inspectors found that apprentices and employers lacked a “sufficient understanding of safeguarding”, while “managers’ responsibilities for safeguarding are not clearly defined and acted upon”.

“Too few” apprentices “achieve their English functional skills” qualifications or “improve their mathematical skills”, while “too few” of those aged 16 to 18 “achieve their full apprenticeship programme”.

The provider, which mainly delivers apprenticeship training in hairdressing and barbering for more than 400 small employers, was also criticised for failing to “ensure that all apprentices’ off-the-job training is recorded, monitored and is of high quality”.

Learndirect’s Ofsted report – based on an inspection from March 20 to 23 – was finally published on Thursday, after the Sheffield-based provider failed in its court battle to have the verdict overturned.

The country’s largest independent training provider was rated ‘inadequate’ overall and for learner outcomes, but ‘requires improvement’ in all other areas.

Leaders were slammed for failing to “take swift and decisive action to stem the decline in performance over the past three years”, with “not enough” apprentices and learners achieving their qualifications.

Performance management of subcontractors – of which the report indicates there are 54 – was singled out for criticism, with the result that “apprentices taking qualifications with subcontractors achieve significantly less well than apprentices trained directly by learndirect”.

Managers’ poor performance management of tutors and assessors was also found to have contributed to a failure “to raise the quality of teaching, learning and assessment consistently across different subcontractors and learndirect centres”.

Meanwhile, the only other FE and skills report published this week revealed that independent training provider All Trades Training Limited had slipped one grade to ‘requires improvement’.

The report, based on an inspection in early July and published August 17, found that “too many” apprentices at the Hertfordshire-based provider “make slow progress towards achieving their qualifications”.

Leaders’ evaluation of provision was deemed “overgenerous”, and it did not “focus sufficiently on the impact that teaching, learning and assessment have on apprentices’ progress and development”.

“Too many” apprentices with “considerable vocational experience” at the start of their courses “find the work too easy” and were not sufficiently challenged to “help them further develop their practical vocational skills and fulfil their potential”.

In addition, the “quality of teaching, learning and assessment” was found to have not “improved quickly enough”.


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Learndirect Limited 20/03/2017 17/08/2017 4 2
All Trades Training Limited 04/07/2017 17/08/2017 3 2
UK Training and Development Limited 29/03/2017 17/08/2017 4 2


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  1. Sally Butler

    That lessons are not being learnt by providers. I worked as an inspector with the Adult Learning Inspectorate way back in 2000 and afterwards with Ofsted. The same issues were coming up time and again poor management, low achievement, poor off-the job training, poor assessment, inadequate understanding of standards. Apprenticeships have been seriously diluted over the years but even now providers are failing. In some cases it is just that management are not on top of what is happening on the ground and trainers are poorly trained and are lacking adequate experience of their sector. Serious improvement is needed