Ofsted watch: Universities falter while colleges shine

Universities have stumbled this week, with one being rated ‘requires improvement’ and another losing its grade one, while colleges have excelled.

Specialist college Groundwork South and North Tyneside scored a grade two, improving on the grade three from its last inspection.

Inspectors were impressed with how leaders had “accelerated the pace of quality improvement” by restructuring the management team.

“Learners are well prepared for independent adult life. They learn how to work out the cost of recipes, shop for ingredients and prepare their own meals. Those learners who need to learn to travel independently do so,” the report reads.

Carmel College principal Mike Hill told FE Week he was “extremely happy” and “proud” after retaining its grade one, following a 12-year gap between inspections.

Less happy news for the University of West London though, which dropped from a grade one to a grade two.

Regardless of the drop, leaders were found to have a “clear and ambitious vision” for providing high-quality courses, directly aligned with the needs of employers in London.

The university’s leaders worked with strategic partners such as Health Education England and city restaurants to ensure they have a sound understanding of the vocational areas from which it recruits apprentices, 400 of whom were on programme.

Staffordshire University fared worse, scoring a grade three in its first inspection report.

The leaders’ ambition to grow higher apprenticeships provision in the region has not resulted in consistently good performance and learning experiences for all of its 400 apprentices, inspectors wrote.

Employer providers have enjoyed a good week, with My Home Move being found to have made ‘significant progress’ in one area of a monitoring visit, and ‘reasonable progress’ in the other two.

Its 23 apprentices enjoy a “well-organised” programme and develop substantial new knowledge, skills and behaviours rapidly, with the majority gaining promotion.

Inspectors found that Kids Allowed, which has 47 apprentices on frameworks, had made ‘reasonable progress’ in two areas, and ‘significant progress’ in another.

Yet, of the 23 level 2 apprentices who started in 2017, eleven left early without achieving; and of the 24 apprentices who started in 2018, seven left.

Independent learning providers have had a mixed week overall.

Abacus Training Group was graded as ‘requires improvement’ in its first inspection, after inspectors found leaders had been too slow in bringing about the improvements needed within teaching and assessment. The quality of the former varied too much, and is not of high enough quality.

Premier Training International was found to have ‘insufficient progress’ in two areas, and ‘reasonable progress’ in the other, of their first monitoring visit since becoming a prime provider of adult education provision.

A key element of their provision – webinars – was often poorly attended; and leaders had failed to establish an adequate process for monitoring and recording the progress of learners.

Staff were found to have not ensured learners are effectively prepared for external exams and practical assessments, while too many learners did not get sufficient support for their practical assessments.

On the other side of the coin, Mode Training retained its grade two rating from 2009.

Its leaders work well with employers, and it clearly outlines what it expects of them.

Inspectors found that “leaders do not hesitate to stop working with employers who are not committed to, for example, enabling enough off-the-job training for apprenticeships”.

People and Business Development Limited had its first monitoring visit since a grade three inspection last June.

It made ‘reasonable progress’ in all four areas, and leaders’ actions to improve provision was having a “demonstrable impact” on learners, the proportion of whom achieving had improved quickly.

Livability Nash College, a specialist provider, was given priorities for improvement following a grade four inspection last November.

Since that inspection, a new senior management team has improved oversight of the quality of education and leaders have established enhanced governance arrangements, but those leaders and governors do not yet have sufficient oversight of the quality of teaching over time.

And Derby Manufacturing UTC has had its second monitoring visit since a grade four inspection in May 2018.

The inspectors found that leaders and managers have not been taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.

Their action plan is not fit for purpose, as some sections of the post-Ofsted action plan have not been updated with the school’s current priorities.

Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Abacus Training Group 30/04/2019 11/06/2019 3 N/A
Premier Training International Limited 07/05/2019 13/06/2019 M N/A
Mode Training Ltd 26/02/2019 14/06/2019 2 2
People and Business Development Ltd 01/05/2019 13/06/2019 M 3


Sixth Form Colleges (inc 16-19 academies) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Carmel College 30/04/2019 10/06/2019 1 1


Employer providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
My Home Move Ltd 16/05/2019 11/06/2019 M N/A
Kids Allowed Ltd 08/05/2019 11/06/2019 M N/A


Other (including UTCs) Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Staffordshire University 17/05/2019 14/06/2019 3 N/A
University of West London 30/04/2019 11/06/2019 2 1
Derby Manufacturing UTC 08/05/2019 14/09/2019 M 4


Specialist colleges Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Groundwork South and North Tyneside 22/05/2019 11/06/2019 2 3
Livability Nash College 15/05/2019 12/06/2019 M 4

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