One college and one private provider lost their ‘outstanding’ grades in a mixed week for the FE sector.

Gateshead College dropped two grades to ‘requires improvement’ due to poor leadership and management and apprenticeship provision, as reported by this newspaper last week.

But its report, published today, shows it is still rated ‘outstanding’ in its adult and high needs provision. The college is rated ‘good’ in four other areas, including quality of education.

But the education watchdog warned the college that its current financial position creates a “significant risk to the future sustainability of the quality of education”.

Gateshead’s high-profile principal and chair have quit in recent weeks after discovering a shock £6 million shortfall in September.

Inspectors said the information leaders provided to governors about the college’s finances over recent months had “not been sufficiently accurate to enable governors to hold leaders to account for the management of resources and the college’s significant financial deficit”.

Leaders and governors have, however, “very recently” begun to identify actions to tackle the weaknesses.

Independent learning provider QA Limited also saw its rating slip from ‘outstanding’, but it dropped just one grade to ‘good’.

It has around 6,500 apprentices, of which 5,300 were in scope for this inspection, and provides commercial training and apprenticeships to the technology sector.

It was reported that apprentices make “good progress” on their apprenticeships and value the teaching from “credible subject experts”.

Ofsted also noted that leaders and managers have a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their provision, and have created a well-considered, ambitious curriculum.

Two other providers retained their ‘good’ ratings this week.

General FE college Shipley College, which had 2,725 learners and apprentices at the time of inspection, was praised for a “safe and friendly learning environment” and the provision of “meaningful support”.

In addition, the inspectorate found that apprentices make “effective contributions to their workplace and swiftly become valuable members of their employers’ teams”.

The University of Bolton was also awarded a grade two for its apprenticeship provision.

At the time of the inspection, there were 405 apprentices – most of which were on nursing associate apprenticeships.

Ofsted reported that they are “very proud” of how quickly they put into practice at work what they have learned at university and described lecturers as “highly qualified and experienced” in their specialist areas.

Moreover, there were five ‘requires improvement’ ratings handed out to providers this week.

Both Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust received the grade in their first full inspections.

The education watchdog criticised the trust in Birmingham due to “too few” healthcare apprentices completing the qualification by their planned end date.

It did note that, since September, senior managers have achieved greater consistency in staffing, and have made improvements to curriculum planning.

Most apprentices at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust remained in their roles, gained promotion or progressed to higher levels of study but healthcare support provision was critiqued for tutors failing to keep employers informed about what apprentices were learning and for not identifying gaps in apprentices’ knowledge.

Independent learning provider Ashley Community & Housing Ltd, which specialises in housing and training for refugees and migrants, was also granted a grade three.

It had eight apprentices during its first inspection. “Too few” on the management programme were said to complete their apprenticeship because “they do not value it”.

In addition, St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College, which has around 1,000 students, failed to improve from a grade three.

Despite Ofsted reporting that staff kept a close eye on students who may be struggling, it concluded that, in too many subjects, “students are not pushed hard enough to achieve”.

One independent learning provider, Environmental Excellence Training and Development Limited, received ‘insufficient progress’ across the board in an early monitoring visit.

It had nine apprentices over the age of 19 who are all employed as cleaning staff in Nottingham University Hospital.

The education watchdog said its safeguarding arrangements were incomplete, there was no effective scrutiny of the quality of education delivered, and the performance of the learning programmes was weak.

London Professional College received two out of four ‘insufficient progress’ grades in a monitoring report after being awarded a grade three. It was given ‘reasonable progress’ in the remaining two areas.

Leaders had “not ensured” improvements had been rapid and that teaching staff “do not help learners improve their skills in written English”.

Elsewhere, independent specialist college Chatsworth Futures Limited was found to be making ‘significant progress’ in two assessed themes regarding health and safety and the quality of education, and ‘reasonable progress’ in the other, following its second monitoring visit in a row after being declared ‘inadequate’.

Winnovation Limited was also found to have made ‘significant progress’ in one area and ‘reasonable progress’ in two others after an early monitoring visit.

The University of The West of England and the remaining independent learning providers to be assessed this week all received ‘reasonable progress’ across the board in their early monitoring reports.

These were: Benson-Smith Limited, Total Training Provision Limited, Melanie Martin t/a Watson Martin and Raise the Bar Limited.


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Ashley Community & Housing Limited 24/01/2020 12/02/2020 3 M
Benson-Smith Limited 23/01/2020 11/02/2020 M N/A
Environmental Excellence Training and Development Limited 17/01/2020 10/02/2020 M N/A
London Professional College 21/01/2020 12/02/2020 M 3
Total Training Provision Limited 30/01/2020 13/02/2020 M N/A
Winnovation Limited 24/01/2020 10/02/2020 M N/A
Melanie Martin t/a Watson Martin 23/01/2020 14/02/2020 M N/A
QA Limited 31/01/2010 14/02/2020 2 1
Raise the Bar Limited 15/01/2020 14/02/2020 M N/A


Sixth Form Colleges (inc 16-19 academies) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College 17/01/2020 11/02/2020 3 3


Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 31/01/2010 10/02/2020 3 M
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust 17/01/2020 10/02/2020 3 M


Other (including UTCs) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
University of Bolton 30/01/2020 11/02/2020 2 2
University of The West of England 29/01/2020 14/02/2020 M N/A


Specialist colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Chatsworth Futures Limited 29/01/2020 12/02/2020 M M (4)


General FE colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Shipley College 30/01/2020 10/02/2020 2 2
Gateshead College 31/01/2020 14/02/2020 3 1

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