St John Ambulance faces apprentice recruitment suspension

Ofsted found 'insufficient' progress at the country’s best-known first aid training charity

Ofsted found 'insufficient' progress at the country’s best-known first aid training charity

29 Apr 2022, 11:00

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The country’s best-known first aid training charity is facing a suspension on apprentice recruitment after Ofsted found “insufficient” teaching. 

Formed 135 ago, St John Ambulance describes itself as “the nation’s leading first aid training provider”. 

The charity was accepted onto the register of apprenticeship training providers in November 2020 and started its delivery of apprenticeships in March 2021. 

However, during its new-provider monitoring visit, Ofsted found that leaders had made ‘insufficient progress’ to ensure SJA was meeting all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision. 

According to inspectors, leaders and managers failed to make sure apprentices were benefiting from high-quality training that led to positive outcomes. 

“Leaders and managers have been too slow to implement the curriculum effectively,” the report said. 

“They do not ensure that the requirements of an apprenticeship are met. Inspectors identified that not all apprentices were given time away from their job roles to be able to complete their off-the-job training.” 

Ofsted said that SJA did not ensure there were sufficient staff resources to support the delivery of the apprenticeship programmes when recruiting apprentices. 

“Consequently, most apprentices have not been able to make sufficient progress in all the components of the apprenticeship programme,” inspectors said. 

At the time of Ofsted’s visit, there were 60 apprentices in learning, all on standards based programmes. 

Of these 60 there were 34 apprentices on the level 4 assessor/coach programme all employed by SJA. 

There were 17 apprentices on the level 3 lead adult care worker programme and eight apprentices on the level 2 adult care worker programme. 

Inspectors found that apprentices who were nearing completion of their apprenticeship programme were not adequately prepared for their functional skills exams. 

And apprentices on adult care programmes had to wait for several months into their apprenticeship before the appointment of their skills coach. 

Other issues identified were that skills coaches did not work with employers to plan effective on- and off-the-job training. 

“Not all apprentices on adult care programmes receive the time to complete off-the-job training. This means that leaders are not meeting the principles and requirements of an apprenticeship,” Ofsted said. 

St John Ambulance’s head of education and training products, Andrew New, said: “We are taking on board Ofsted’s monitoring report and will address the points raised.” 

New told FE Week that learner experience is always their “top priority” and feedback from the monitoring visit prompted them to take action immediately, to ensure apprentices received the support they needed. 

This support included transferring some apprentices to another provider. 

“Starting this new strand of work during the pandemic has proved to be challenging, but we will learn from this feedback and any future apprenticeship provision through St John will meet the high standards people rightly expect from our training,” New added.

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