Top Ofsted marks for Bristol apprenticeship provider in first full inspection

Professional Apprenticeships judged ‘outstanding’, with inspectors citing high pass rates

Professional Apprenticeships judged ‘outstanding’, with inspectors citing high pass rates

A Bristol-based apprenticeship provider has been awarded the highest rating from Ofsted at its first full inspection.

The education watchdog praised Professional Apprenticeships Ltd’s efforts that enable all apprentices to pass their end-point assessments, with 81 per cent achieving a distinction.

The provider launched in 2016 and offers apprenticeships in digital, technology, marketing, and business. At the time of Ofsted’s inspection in mid-August, the provider had 154 apprentices, 32 of whom were aged between 16 and 18.

In a report published on Friday, inspectors pointed out the “high-quality teaching” that apprentices receive.

Learners’ attitudes to work and their professional manner with future and current clients were also praised. “As such, they are very well prepared for their next steps in employment or further study,” the report said.

Professional Apprenticeships staff worked well with employers to formulate a curriculum for apprentices where they have quickly gained technical knowledge through shadowing and apply to their own work, Ofsted added.

“They coordinate apprentices’ training well so that they make significant and substantial progress from their starting points.

“For example, level 3 digital marketing apprentices working in marketing agencies often need to understand ‘pay per click’ early in the apprenticeship. In these cases, apprentices undertake shadowing of experienced colleagues before they are required to learn the technical content of the concept.”

Inspectors also found that staff particularly help those who have been disadvantaged by the pandemic and other socio-economic factors, which has resulted in a cohort of apprentices from all backgrounds.

Ofsted noted that three fifths of students pass first time and around four fifths of apprentices are expected to successfully achieve their apprenticeship this year.

The report additionally found that leaders use “thorough and well-considered quality assurance processes” to ensure a “highly effective” curriculum and put additional qualifications to good use to “enhance the apprentice’s knowledge and skills and strengthen their employability”.

Governors were also praised for continuing to challenge leaders to “set and monitor ambitious targets to maintain this advance” and said they have been “instrumental in shaping the provider’s strategy, focusing on limiting the curriculum offer to those sectors they have expert knowledge of”.

Carina Bush, a director at Professional Apprenticeships, said the whole team had worked “so hard” to achieve the grading.

“We’ve worked so hard to deliver the best recruitment, training, and support to our apprentices and employers, and the whole team is immensely proud of this achievement,” she said.

“We have lived and breathed apprenticeships for so long and we are excited to support more apprentices and employers throughout England.”

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