Safeguarding and subcontractor oversight issues drag ‘good’ provider down to ‘inadequate’

STEGTA confirms it will not appeal overall grade 4 rating despite achieving 'good' grades in most areas

STEGTA confirms it will not appeal overall grade 4 rating despite achieving 'good' grades in most areas

22 Mar 2023, 15:30

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A Manchester-based engineering and manufacturing training provider will not appeal its ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating despite hitting ‘good’ grades in most areas.

Salford and Trafford Engineering Group Training Association (STEGTA) was downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’ overall in its report published today following an inspection in late January.

That was despite inspectors giving it ‘good’ ratings for quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, and apprenticeships. Personal development was rated ‘requires improvement’ and leadership and management ‘inadequate’, largely because of safeguarding concerns and poor oversight of subcontractors.

But the organisation confirmed it had accepted the findings and opted not to appeal the decision.

Chief executive John Whitby told FE Week: “We had major staffing issues which impacted our administration and leadership and management in the run up to the inspection.

“We are now back to full capacity within our leadership and management team and have restructured and strengthened our safeguarding team and systems, and have full confidence in our action plan going forward.”

Education and Skills Funding Agency rules state that any provider receiving an ‘inadequate’ rating in a full inspection will be removed from the register of apprenticeship training providers.

Whitby said his firm now expects to enter discussions with the ESFA over intervention, but would not be drawn on what contract termination would mean for the future of his company.

STEGTA delivers level 2 to 4 apprenticeships in engineering, manufacturing and construction, and had 318 learners at the time of the visit. It works with 16 subcontractors across its programmes.

The report praised apprentices’ positive attitudes to their learning and the additional learning they received beyond the scope of their apprenticeship.

It continued that trainers and instructors helped learners to develop their character and confidence.

The report said that there was a “clear rationale” for the curriculum and explained that it was taught effectively by “well qualified and experienced” training officers in the construction and engineering sectors.

But inspectors found that safeguarding arrangements were “weak” despite learners saying they felt safe.

Inspectors said that training for staff was “not sufficiently comprehensive” in how to identify and report concerns, adding that “when staff have identified specific potential safeguarding concerns, they do not routinely follow these up with decisive actions to ensure the safety of apprentices”.

Board members felt they did not get sufficient training on safeguarding and ‘prevent’ duties, while leaders did not regularly review the policies for safeguarding.

Apprentices were not always provided sufficient information to understand risks associated with radicalisation and extremism, it added.

While aspects of the curriculum were praised, inspectors also reported that instructors didn’t routinely challenge apprentices to develop their knowledge, skills and behaviours to a higher standard.

It said that apprentices did not have all the information to make informed decisions about career progression, while leaders “do not provide a curriculum that routinely equips all apprentices for life in modern Britain,” such as around healthy relationships or lifestyles.

Leaders’ oversight of education quality was “too reactive” with “disjointed and vague” processes in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of provision, inspectors added.

Ofsted also took aim at STEGTA’s oversight of its 16 subcontractors, most of which are colleges.

Inspectors found that apprentices follow different programmes of learning provided by subcontractors which “do not always relate to their job role”.

Ofsted’s report said: “Leaders are overly reliant on subcontractors’ own processes in evaluating the quality of training that apprentices receive. Leaders do not plan and influence sufficiently the curriculum content that subcontractors teach.

“Too many subcontractors choose the curriculum content without input from employers and the provider.”

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