Provider to over 500 learners shuts centres after ‘inadequate’ Ofsted

Aspire-Igen Group revamps provision after grade 4 inspection result

Aspire-Igen Group revamps provision after grade 4 inspection result

21 Mar 2023, 15:51

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A training provider in the north of England has been forced to close some of its centres as a result of an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted report published today.

Aspire-Igen Group Ltd, which to date has run six training centres across Bradford, Leeds, York, Hull and Scarborough, told FE Week that it had closed “some” of its centres and transferred provision to others where “the achievement of learners’ aims can be better supported”.

It is not clear at this stage which centres have shut their doors and whether any staff jobs have been lost.

Ofsted downgraded the provider to the bottom rating following a visit in December and a report published today, reporting issues such as poor attendance, behaviour and teaching. It had previously been rated ‘requires improvement’ in February last year.

The provider said nearly half of its learners had no prior qualifications and multiple barriers to learning, explaining that “it should come as a surprise to no one that some have struggled to re-engage with formal, face-to-face education”.

Aspire-Igen Group confirmed that it had “also struggled to recruit suitably qualified teaching staff of the past year, and have, at times, been forced to rely on temporary staff from employment agencies to maintain face-to-face lessons”.

A spokesperson said leaders had requested an internal review of the report.

“All that said, although we do not agree with some of Ofsted’s comments, we have taken them on board and reshaped our provision, closing some of our centres and transferring provision to one of our other centres where the achievement of learners’ aims can be better supported,” the spokesperson said.

“In future, we aim to focus our delivery in West Yorkshire around our well-equipped Bradford centres, alongside smaller centres in North and East Yorkshire.”

According to inspectors, Aspire-Igen provides education for young people – many of whom have no prior qualifications or who have high needs, with 575 learners on its books at the time of the visit.

Just under half of those were on health and social care and child development programmes, largely at levels 2 and 3.

Others are on entry level, level 1 and level 2 programmes in areas such as construction, motor vehicle, public services, business administration, hair and beauty, learning support, IT, and hospitality and catering.

Inspectors found that “too many learners do not attend their classes frequently enough,” which resulted in gaps in learning or were “not well-enough prepared” for employment or further training or education.

Inspectors reported poor behaviours and attitudes with disruption in lessons.

The report said that learners on health and social care and child development courses benefitted from work placements and useful careers guidance but too many learners in other programmes did not get the same.

Leaders were “too slow to act” on poor teaching, the report said, adding that efforts to improvement quality are “not effective enough”.

Elsewhere, assessments were not used by teachers to identify gaps in students’ knowledge, which resulted in learners not having a good enough understanding of how to improve or falling behind.

The report continued that “teachers do not adequately support learners to improve their English skills,” and added that “while most learners with high needs make progress towards their individual learning goals, too often this is not rapid enough”.

Ofsted said that workshop space at the firm’s Leeds site was not suitable for the construction programmes, as bays were too cramped, and some online teaching resources on the childcare courses were not appropriate for the age of the learners.

It added that while directors had supported leaders’ work to improve attendance, they “do not do enough to tackle the poor quality of education”.

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  1. Another example of how, in effect, Ofsted has become the regulator of which training providers are able to stay in the market or not. Is this really what we want? While it’s vital to maintain quality standards, a more developmental approach could be used, where struggling TPs are supported to improve, not just forced out of business. And there’s got to be a particular concern when this happens to providers who are trying to engage with the most disadvantaged and marginalised learners. We risk reducing opportunities, not improving them, leaving desperately needy learners stranded.

    • Jo Stoddart

      Totally agree on all points made here Andy Forbes. The inspection process is so flawed. I’ve been in the unfortunate position this provider is now in and it was the most horrendous experience I have ever been through in my life and continues to haunt me 9 years on! No help or support with improvement and vulnerable learners abandoned.

  2. Unknown

    I am a student at that college we have one assignment left and it’s been closed we already have uni places and this is wrong that they have closed it and not give us a grade and are destroying our future thanks ofsted you disgrace