Ofsted watch: Two providers rated outstanding and a UTC bounces back

Two providers have been awarded the highest possible grade from Ofsted – and a university technical college has bounced back from inadequate to good in just eight months.

As exclusively revealed by FE Week, Dudley College became the first general FE college to be rated outstanding in 14 months this week.

In a report published June 15, and based on a short inspection carried out in January and a full inspection in May, inspectors praised college leaders for having “established an ambitious vision”.

Learners and apprentices were found to be “particularly well prepared for the next stage of their education or employment” and “make significant progress compared to their starting points in achieving their qualification goals and in gaining very good professional, vocational and wider work-related skills”.

Employer provider The Football Association Premier League Limited also held onto its grade one in a report published June 14 and based on an inspection in late March.

“Leader, managers and staff” at the provider, which delivers apprenticeships in sporting excellence to 16- to-18-year-olds at Premier League clubs, were praised for their “exceptionally high expectations of apprentices in terms of their education and the development of their excellent technical and tactical footballing skills”.

The apprentices themselves were found to “make excellent progress” and were “extremely motivated to succeed as footballers”.

Cambridge UTC leapt two grades from inadequate to good across the board, in a report published today and based on an inspection in mid-May.

The 14 to 19 vocational institution’s new headteacher was praised for acting “quickly” to “establish a culture where teachers and students enjoy working hard in an atmosphere that is highly conducive to learning”, while leaders’ “systematic and organised approach” had “rapidly and successfully addressed the flaws found at the previous inspection” in September 2016.

The school’s sixth form was “well led” and students were “well cared for and make good progress in most subjects”, the report noted.

Two independent training providers boosted their grades from three to two this week.

“Leaders and all staff” at Bridge Training Limited “very successfully transform the lives of young people who have previously had poor experiences at school or other major barriers to achieving their potential in the workplace or in further education”, according to the report published June 13 and based on an inspection in May.

Learners at the Gloucestershire-based provider, which delivers study programmes for 16- to 19-year-olds, were “motivated and optimistic about their futures as a result of their positive and practical learning experiences,” inspectors found.

“Very strong strategic leadership” at Paragon Education and Skills Limited, which “provides high levels of support and challenge to managers and staff”, was found to have led to “significant improvements in apprenticeships” since its previous inspection in 2015.

The “majority” of apprentices at the Bournemouth-based provider “benefit from good teaching and assessment from well-qualified and experienced tutors”, and “develop high levels of skills from well-designed and effectively implemented programmes”.

Two providers – one college and one adult and community learning provider – held onto their ‘good’ ratings following full inspections this week.

Stephenson College received a grade two overall but was awarded the highest possible rating for its adult learning programmes, in a report published June 14 and based on an inspection in early May.

“Most apprentices” were found to make “very good progress and develop high-level technical skills and knowledge that their employers value”.

Teaching in practical sessions and on study programmes was found to be “good”, but teachers on study programmes did not “consistently plan to challenge sufficiently the most able students”, with the result that “these students do not achieve the grades of which they are capable”.

The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames Council held onto its grade two across the board in a report published June 24, but based on an inspection in late April.

The “large majority” of learners “successfully complete their course”, and “make good progress in developing the skills and knowledge that they need to develop their careers and become more independent in their lives”.

Leaders and managers were praised for having “successfully maintained good-quality provision”, while tutors were applauded for having “high expectations of learners”.

Meanwhile, in a reversal of fortunes, two providers – West Herts College and Finning (UK) Ltd – lost their grade ones this week.

Governors at West Herts were praised for their “strong” guidance that had “enabled senior leaders to ensure the sustainability of provision”, in a report published June 15 and based on an inspection in April.

But “low” attendance for students on study programmes and “too many” learners not making “good progress” in English and maths GCSEs were among the issues pulling the college down from its previous outstanding rating.

“Almost all apprentices” at employer provider Finning (UK) Ltd achieved their qualifications “enabling them to become fully qualified field engineers and progress within the organisation”, according to an inspection report published June 12 and based on a mid-May inspection.

But the “overall effectiveness of the provision has declined” due to a lack of “sufficient managerial oversight”, inspectors noted.

Just one provider – independent learning provider Be Totally You – received an inadequate grade this week, in a report published today but based on an inspection in early May.

Current learners were found to be “making insufficient progress”, while “leaders, managers and assessors do not monitor the progress of learners closely enough,” the report said.

Safeguarding at the London-based provider was deemed “not effective”, while governance arrangements “require improvement, as there is weak external scrutiny and challenge”.

Two providers – St Helens College and independent learning provider Anne Clarke Associates Ltd – dropped one grade this week, from good to requires improvement.

And three providers held onto their grades two following a short inspection – Northumberland College, and two adult and community learning providers Brent Adult and Community Education Service and Skills and learning: Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole.

GFE Colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
St Helens College 24/04/2017 16/06/2017 3 2
Dudley College 25/01/2017 15/06/2017 1 2
West Herts College 25/04/2017 15/06/2017 2 1
Stephenson College 09/05/2017 14/06/2017 2 2


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Be Totally You 02/05/2017 16/06/2017 4 3
Anne Clarke Associates Ltd 08/03/2017 15/06/2017 3 2
Bridge Training Limited 15/05/2017 13/06/2017 2 3
Paragon Education and Skills Limited 16/05/2017 09/06/2017 2 3


Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames Council 25/04/2017 14/06/2017 2



Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
The Football Association Premier League Limited 28/03/2017 14/06/2017 1 1
Finning (UK) Ltd 16/05/2017 12/06/2017 2 1


Other (including UTCs) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
UTC Cambridge 16/05/2017 16/06/2017 2 4


Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published
Northumberland College 04/05/2017 12/06/2017
Brent Adult and Community Education Service 21/03/2017 14/06/2017
Skills and learning: Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole 27/04/2017 13/06/2017


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