Apprenticeships, Ofsted, Training Providers

Senior leader apprentices ‘lacked resilience’ at ‘inadequate’ provider

London Examination Board Limited claimed its report was 'inaccurate'

London Examination Board Limited claimed its report was 'inaccurate'

28 May 2024, 16:41

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A training company has been graded ‘inadequate’ after Ofsted inspectors found its senior leader apprentices lacked “resilience” to complete the course alongside the demands of their jobs.  

Hertfordshire-based London Examinations Board Limited received ‘inadequate’ for its apprenticeships, quality of education, leadership and management and overall effectiveness in a report it deemed “very inaccurate” published yesterday

Inspectors visiting the provider, which trained 73 apprentices at the time of the February inspection, said apprentices didn’t have access to enough planned training and “learn most of the intended curriculum on their own.”

Ofsted’s claims that learners don’t have enough access to tutors were disputed by the provider, but complaints were not upheld.

Just over half (42) of the provider’s apprentices were on the level 7 senior leader apprenticeship, which attracts up to £14,000 in funding per apprentice. The rest were on the level 4 and 5 children, young people and families standards. 

“Too many” apprentices miss lessons and drop out of the course early, the watchdog said. The inspection report points to “too few” apprentices developing “resilience to manage the challenges of studying while managing their workplace pressures.”

London Examination Board chief executive, Kevin Johns-Putra, said he felt inspectors treated his provider “like a school or college, doing sixth form or A-levels,” pointing out his senior leader apprentices “run big organisations” so can’t always attend lessons. 

But inspectors said, “Too few apprentices develop strategies and, therefore, the resilience to manage the challenges of studying while managing their workplace pressures.”  As a result, “too many apprentices leave the course within the first year of study and do not complete their final assessments” according to Ofsted. 

Controversial MBAs

Achievement rates at London Examinations Board were “hindered” because apprentices dropped out once they had achieved the MBA qualification but before the required end-point assessment, the provider claimed.

The MBA was dropped from the two-year senior leader apprenticeship for new starts from March 2021 following concern employers were using apprenticeship levy funds to subsidise Master’s degrees for their managers. 

The average achievement rate for senior leader apprenticeships in 2022/23 was 56.3 per cent, slightly higher than the national average for all apprenticeships of 54.3 per cent, but 11 percentage points lower than the government’s 67 per cent target. 

Completion volumes at London Examinations Board were too small to be published in the government’s national achievement rate tables.

The provider said “more than 67 per cent” of its apprentices achieved the MBA qualification in time but “many” refused to then go through the end-point assessment. 

The Education and Skills Funding Agency can terminate a training provider’s contract following an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted judgment. London Examinations Board said it had not been notified of a contract termination at the time of going to press.

Senior leader apprentices at London Examination Board can choose to “top-up” their senior leader apprenticeship to an MBA with University of Gloucestershire or University of South Wales “for a small additional fee.”

‘Very inaccurate’ report

Johns-Putra said he exhausted Ofsted’s complaints process to challenge the report and decided against pursuing legal action due to costs. 

In a statement to FE Week, he said he was “extremely disappointed” with the inspection outcome: 

“There were over 20 inaccurate statements and comments that we raised from the draft report, none of these factual inaccuracies were accepted by Ofsted.

“Ofsted did not recognise that our achievement rates were seriously hindered by the old Master’s degree senior leader standard where achievement of a Master’s degree was compulsory before apprentices could undertake end-point assessment.

“While we recognise that we have areas for improvement, there have been many positive areas we have implemented effectively but these were not reflected in what we feel is a very inaccurate report”.

Johns-Putra claimed Ofsted’s criticism that tutors do not provide apprentices with enough “well-planned training or support” was inaccurate because they have access to tutors “at any time.”

Inspection reports continue to be published during the pre-election period. 

Ofsted was approached for comment. 

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