Roaring success for Derby apprenticeship provider in first inspection

Blue Lion Training Academy rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted

Blue Lion Training Academy rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted


An apprenticeship training provider in Derby has received top marks from Ofsted in its first full inspection.

Inspectors praised Blue Lion Training Academy’s experienced staff and its “outstanding provision” across niche sectors in a grade one report published today following a visit last month.

The independent training provider started offering apprenticeships in 2020 across levels three to six and had 47 apprentices mostly aged over 18 at the time of inspection.

Most apprentices were enrolled on the level 4 improvement practitioner course and level 4 associate project manager apprenticeship. The remainder were on courses for content creators, digital marketers, and assistant recording technicians.

The company’s early monitoring visit from 2021 found reasonable progress was being made.

During the full inspection, the watchdog found apprentices were benefiting from a well-structured apprenticeship and were able to progress significantly within their studies and workplace.

The report also praised Blue Lion Training Academy trainers’ partnership with employers to help apprentices apply theoretical approaches to their workplace, such as spotting inefficiencies to improve working practices or cost savings. 

Apprentices said they feel safe and aware of raising issues. Inspectors said that learners felt supported by trainers, helping to build confidence and resilience.

Most of the courses blend online and in-person learning and the inspection found that the provider had invested heavily in “highly-experienced trainers” and bespoke learning resources.

“They rightly made the strategic decision to offer only courses in the niche sectors in which they are confident of delivering outstanding provision,” the report said. “As a result, employers, apprentices and staff hold the company in exceptionally high regard.”

Inspectors also commended the company’s dedication to “extensive” analysis for each employer offering apprenticeships to determine its organisational and training needs.

The report added that the provider’s assessment practice was “outstanding” from detailed and constructive advice and guidance on assignments. Staff also provide recap activities to help apprentices consolidate learning from previous modules.

Managing director and chief executive Harj Dhanjal said: “A big congratulations to the team at Blue Lion Training Academy.”

“Walking the talk, our tutors have years of industry experience in Lean Six Sigma and have formed a solid foundation for the growth of Management, Marketing and Media provision. The industry insights the tutors provide their learners is invaluable,” he added.

‘Excellent’ quality improvement measures

The report said that Blue Lion leaders provide a quarterly forum for all staff to review the apprenticeship provision, assess areas for improvement and share good practice. Inspectors said that staff at all levels now understand what they have to do to continue the company’s objective of being the “best in the business”.

Leaders also use a range of performance measures to assess the company’s performance, which inspectors said its quality improvement arrangements were “excellent”. Leaders identify barriers to performance, carry out a strategy to improve, implement a standard, monitor noncompliance and improve apprenticeship outcomes.

Meanwhile, Blue Lion’s governance is “effective,” the report said.

Blue Lion has a chief executive officer and one external partner which comprises the governance team. At the time of inspection, they had met twice.

“Governors consider a range of key performance measures, and they understand well the company’s strengths and areas for improvement. They plan to further strengthen governance and are in the process of appointing additional members,” the report said.

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