Ofsted watch: Two providers rated ‘inadequate’ for apprenticeships

A private provider has dropped two grades to ‘inadequate’ and a sixth form college was rated grade four for its apprenticeship provision, in what is otherwise a positive week for the FE sector.

There was especially good news for Trafford College Group, which was found to have made ‘significant progress’ in all areas since it took on the grade four Stockport College last year.

Michael John Academy, which has 88 apprentices, plummeted from grade two to four, after inspectors found trainers fail to consider an apprentice’s prior learning, which is a breach of ESFA funding rules, and apprentices which transfer to the independent provider are made to restart their programme.

The inspectorate also found ‘inadequate’ apprenticeship provision at Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College, which was given an overall grade three, despite scoring grade two in all but two areas.

Its leaders and senior managers have overseen a “significant decline” in the standard of training for its 130 apprentices, inspectors wrote.

But the principal, Jenny Singleton, said 93 per cent of the provision was rated ‘good’, and the apprenticeship grade had been affected by a former sub-contractor.

Ofsted praised the college developing “high levels of employment-related skills” for its students through a “broad and balanced curriculum which incorporates well-planned work experience and extra-curricular activities”.

There was better news for Trafford College Group, which merged with the ‘inadequate’ Stockport College with the help of a £30 million bailout from the DfE.

Since the merger, inspectors wrote, governors and senior leaders at the college have implemented organisational changes which have been “highly effective in bringing about rapid improvements in the quality of education and training” for students at the Stockport site.

Oaklands College has improved in most areas since its last, grade three, inspection. However it was still found to have made ‘insufficient progress’ in areas.

While managers had improved how they monitor the progress of learners, attendance remained too low.

Easton & Otley College was the focus of a monitoring visit following a grade four inspection.

Inspectors said leaders have a “good awareness of which courses underperformed in 2017/18, and they have carefully evaluated the causes for this”.

They have implemented “suitable improvement actions and these are beginning to have an impact”.

Elsewhere, the University of Sunderland dropped off its ‘outstanding’ perch, albeit to a grade two.

Until recently, assessors have not challenged apprentices to go beyond the minimum requirements of the programme; but governors have recognised the weaknesses in apprenticeship provision and have put together challenging development plans.

Two other universities had early monitoring reports published this week for their apprenticeship provision, Middlesex and Hull, and made ‘reasonable progress across the board.

For employer providers, Pizza Hut has been served a grade two for its provision to 40 apprentices, after Ofsted gave it a grade three in 2017.

Apprentices benefit from good off-the-job training, and the chief executive and senior leaders have a detailed knowledge of each apprentice’s progress.

Mosaic Spa and Health Clubs (Contract Management) Ltd made ‘reasonable progress’ across the board of its monitoring visit, with inspectors commending how managers tailor apprentice programmes to local requirements.

London Professional College Limited received a grade three in its first inspection since winning a direct funding contract.

Inspectors found lecturers did not use information about its 142 learners’ starting point to plan learning.

Fellow independent learning provider Banham Academy Limited fared better, as it was found to have made ‘significant progress’ in two out of three themes.

Their apprenticeship programme, which had 28 participants at the time, was well-structured and meets employers’ needs very well.

Two other providers – Trainspeople Limited and The Braunstone Foundation – made ‘reasonable progress’ in all areas of their monitoring visits.

Apprentices at Trainspeople Limited, which currently has 41 such learners, gain substantial new skills, and the first cohort of gas network team leader apprentices have either become, or are taking up, team leader roles.

Apprentices with The Braunstone Foundation, of which there are five, take part in a range of “high-quality off-the-job training, including work shadowing and classroom sessions.

GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Easton & Otley College27/03/201914/05/2019M4
The Trafford College Group04/04/201916/05/2019MN/A
Oaklands College03/04/201913/05/2019M3


Independent Learning ProvidersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
London Professional College Limited26/03/201914/05/20193N/A
Michael John Academy26/03/201915/05/201942
Trainspeople Limited17/04/201916/05/2019MN/A
The Braunstone Foundation, trading as b-inspired11/04/201916/05/2019MN/A
Banham Academy Limited17/04/201917/05/2019MN/A


Sixth Form Colleges (inc 16-19 academies)InspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College26/03/201917/05/201932


Employer providersInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Pizza Hut26/03/201914/05/201923
Mosaic Spa and Health Clubs (Contract Management) Ltd02/05/201917/05/2019MN/A


Other (including UTCs)InspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Middlesex University26/04/201917/05/2019MN/A
University of Hull04/05/201915/05/2019MN/A
University of Sunderland22/03/201917/05/201921

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