A university has scored top Ofsted marks in its first full inspection for its “ambitious” and “consistently inclusive” healthcare apprenticeships.
The watchdog inspected the University of Huddersfield last month and awarded ‘outstanding’ grades across the board in a report published today.
The university began delivering apprenticeships in 2018, and had 651 healthcare and business apprentices at levels 5, 6 and 7 across the Yorkshire and Humber region at the time of inspection.
Inspectors said the apprenticeship programme was well integrated into the university community.
Leaders “value the role that their apprenticeship programmes play in providing opportunities for people from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds to access higher education opportunities and in retaining talent in the local region,” according to Ofsted.
Sustainable and steady growth
The watchdog also praised leaders for ensuring the growth of its apprenticeship provision has been “sustainable and steady, based on demand and need”.
Ofsted said that leaders have “strong and sustained” relationships with employers and create a culture of continuous evaluation and improvement.
“They use a wide range of effective methods to assure themselves of the quality of the provision, including peer observations, module evaluations and standardisation processes,” the report said.
“They strongly encourage apprentices to express their views and evaluate their training, and they welcome and act on the feedback that they receive.”
Professor Bob Cryan, University of Huddersfield vice-chancellor, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the ‘outstanding’ rating.
“Ofsted was impressed by how our apprenticeships have been embedded throughout the university. We were commended for how our apprenticeships support the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. Our strong culture of safeguarding was highly praised as were our efforts to ensure our apprentices have the correct work-life-study balance.”
Ofsted’s report said it was impressed by the university’s “global professional award” programme, which saw, for example, advanced clinical practitioner apprentices organise “restart a heart” resuscitation awareness events in the community, and provide medical support for mountain rescue services.
Inspectors also praised learners’ rapid adoption of new skills and knowledge, such as podiatrist apprentices who become able to run their own clinics independently, freeing up more appointments.
‘Consistently high standards’
The “vast majority” of apprentices stay to the end of their programme, with a high proportion gaining distinctions at end-point assessment and upper-second and first-class honours grades in their degrees.
“Apprentices produce work of a consistently high standard,” the report said.
Teaching staff were commended for their ambitious curriculum planning and ensuring that the curriculum is consistently inclusive.
The report also pointed out that leaders manage the workload of teaching staff “effectively” using a ‘workload framework’ which helps to balance the demands of the role and provide transparency within curriculum teams.
“New members of staff are supported well, especially those with limited previous experience of higher education or apprenticeships,” it said.
Teachers also help apprentices with their academic skills, especially when apprentices lack these skills at the start of their course.
“The additional support from the university academic support tutors is highly valued. However, the demand for this service on a few programmes is often higher than its availability,” it added.