A university that rapidly increased its apprenticeship numbers to more than 2,000 has secured its third consecutive ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating.
Manchester Metropolitan University was handed the grade one rating following a visit by inspectors on October 6 and 7 for its foundation art and design diploma and degree apprenticeship provision.
Inspectors offered high praise to leaders for recruiting apprentices with “integrity”, designing an “ambitious” curriculum and for “skilfully” designing their apprenticeships to meet the needs of employers.
Liz Gorb, director of apprenticeships, said the judgement demonstrated the “exceptional quality at scale” of Manchester Metropolitan University’s programmes, and added: “Our apprenticeships are designed in close partnership with employers.
“This ensures they meet their workforce needs, while developing every student to achieve their potential and advance in their career of choice.”
It represents the third straight ‘outstanding’ rating for the university following visits by the education watchdog in November 2018 and December 2012. Both previous inspections, however, focused on the university’s 16 to 19 provision.
The university had less than 50 apprentices at the time of its last inspection four years ago.
It has ramped up its apprenticeship delivery since then. At the time of this inspection there were 2,335 apprentices, mostly on level 6 standards. More than half were on the chartered manager and digital and technology solutions professional courses.
Others were on social work, digital marketing, digital user experience, healthcare science practitioner, creative digital design, retail leadership and laboratory scientist qualifications.
There were 526 apprentices on level 7 courses.
In addition, 169 of the 180 students enrolled on the foundation diploma in art and design were in scope for the inspection.
According to the university, it launched degree apprenticeships in 2015 and now works with more than 540 employers, ranging from small and medium enterprises to larger multi-national firms.
Gorb said that the university’s lecturers and skills coaches tried to personalise students’ experiences to builds their knowledge, skills, behaviours and confidence.
In its report, Ofsted said students described the university as “a gender blank space where they develop their identities and express themselves individually”.
Students praised their lecturers and skills coaches, the report said, while students’ confidence and resilience was also bolstered from their learning.
The report said diploma students described the course as “a turning point in their lives”.
Elsewhere, apprenticeships were hailed for their “ambitious curriculum” and were “skilfully” designed to meet the needs of employers, which included additional learning.
Inspectors reported that on and off-the-job training was well co-ordinated, and students were able to regularly practice their learning at work.
It said that career advice and guidance prepared apprentices well for the future, and the destinations of alumni helped inform curriculum changes.
There are 47 universities that hold a full Ofsted inspection grade. Four of them are judged to be ‘outstanding’.