Pearson has been slammed by Ofsted for its inadequate apprenticeship provision in a report which found “no key strengths”.

The global education business, which provides apprenticeships for around 80 members of staff through its subcontractor Pearson TQ, has dropped two grades to be ranked ‘inadequate’ across the board by the education watchdog.

In their damning report, published today, the inspection team said they had “found no key strengths”.

“Leaders and managers have failed to maintain the strengths or tackle the areas of poor performance identified at the last inspection,” the report added.

“Too many apprentices drop out of learning or do not make sufficient progress to complete their programmes within the agreed timescale,” it said, with the result that “too many apprentices do not complete their programmes successfully”.

A Pearson spokesperson said in response: “Pearson TQ took over this service in summer 2015 and had developed and started implementing a clear action plan with leaders and managers in Pearson before the inspection which led to this report.

“This has already seen some learners complete their programmes. We take this report very seriously and are making further improvements in our programme so that our apprentices receive the highest possible standard of learning and support.

“We are disappointed with this report and will be challenging some of the comments, which we feel do not accurately reflect the improvements that have already been made since Pearson TQ took over management of the service.”

The report also raised concern over safeguarding of learners.

It said: “While safeguarding at an organisational level is in place, arrangements for the safeguarding of apprentices do not meet statutory requirements.

“Senior leaders have not ensured that a suitably trained member of staff is in place to oversee safeguarding procedures on the apprenticeship programme.”

The provider was also told in the report to “urgently provide high-quality training for apprentices to develop their English and mathematics skills and gain English and mathematics qualifications.”

Staff “do not challenge” learners to make progress, and as a result their “levels of interest and motivation decline significantly”, it added.

Learners’ starting points are not properly assessed and recorded, the report said, and “too many apprentices have been registered on the basis of incorrect information about their qualifications and/or units.”

As a result, “a small minority of apprentices have had to recommence their programmes entirely”.

The advice and guidance offered by staff also came in for criticism.

“Staff do not provide effective information, advice and guidance that enable apprentices to understand how they can achieve their career goals,” the report said.

It also recognised that Pearson had recently changed subcontractor, but said “the recent change in subcontractor arrangements has yet to have a significant impact on ensuring apprentices make good progress.”

Publication of the Ofsted findings comes just two days after FE Week sister paper FE Week revealed that job losses among Pearson’s UK exams staff had not been ruled-out as the company prepared to cut 10 per cent of its global workforce.

The company announced cuts of around 4,000 jobs from its global staff of 40,000, as it moved to cut costs in the face of “cyclical and policy-related challenges”.

FE Week understands the 10 per cent cuts will be implemented fairly proportionately across Pearson’s global business, with around 500 jobs at risk in Britain, where the company employs around 5,000 people.


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  1. Another Ex SFA-er

    Presumably this means that SFA will give them three months notice of termination of funding contract. That is – or at least to be – the default policy position with regards providers funded by a contract for services.

  2. FE Lecturer

    OFSTED seems to be finding everyone inadequate – probably because it is judging them all against the expectations of a primary school teaching environment – and we don’t teach small children in FE.
    “Too many apprentices drop out of learning or do not make sufficient progress to complete their programmes within the agreed timescale,” it said, with the result that “too many apprentices do not complete their programmes successfully”.
    So does he want the standard to be dropped so that anyone can complete regardless of their effort or ability. Completion of an apprenticeship tells industry that an individual is trained to a high standard and it stays on a CV for a lifetime. OFSTED are too bothered about data and statistics instead of focussing on high standards and quality.

  3. Will the provision paid for through the Apprenticeship Levy also be subject to Ofsted or is this the ideal opportunity to release work based learning from Ofsted’s claws? Consider the employers who wish to keep as much of their contribution as possible by creating their own apprentice academies. They certainly won’t want Ofsted closing them down with a flawed inspection regime.