One of the topics keeping new apprenticeship providers awake at night is the prospect of Ofsted inspection. The regime for inspection of new apprenticeship providers changed earlier this year, here’s a summary of what you can expect.
If you’re a new training provider directly funded for delivering apprenticeships from or after April 2017, rather than the usual full or short inspection, you should expect a new monitoring visit from Ofsted.
Normally within 24 months of the start of the funding, that’s when you first start delivering funded learning not the date you first got onto the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers which might have been much earlier.
You’ll be given two working days’ notice. The visits normal last up to two days and the report will be published on https://www.gov.uk/find-ofsted-inspection-report.
Inspectors will make judgements against different themes to the previous full or short inspections. They are:
“How much progress have leaders & managers made to ensure….?
- the provider is meeting all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision.
- apprentices benefit from high-quality training that leads to positive outcomes for apprentices
- effective safeguarding arrangements are in place.
- learners benefit from high-quality adult education that prepares them well for their intended job role, career aims and/or personal goals” (only applicable to providers delivering adult education).
Rather than being graded from grade 1: Outstanding to grade 4: Inadequate, monitoring visits use a new judgement grading:
- insufficient progress: progress has been either slow or insubstantial or both, and the demonstrable impact on learners has been negligible.
- reasonable progress: action taken by the provider is already having a beneficial impact on learners and improvements are sustainable and are based on the provider’s thorough quality assurance procedures.
- significant progress: progress has been rapid and is already having considerable beneficial impact on learners.
These judgements are awarded against each of the four themes as well as an overall judgement being awarded.
What happens after your monitoring visit?
You can expect your first full inspection within 24 months of the publication of the report from your monitoring visit.
- You have had one or more ‘insufficient progress’ judgements which results in full inspection within 6 to 12 months or:
- The effectiveness of your safeguarding arrangements was awarded an ‘insufficient progress’. This results in one further monitoring visit to review only safeguarding within four months of the visit, rather than publication of the report as that may be some weeks after the visit.
If your only insufficient progress judgement relates to safeguarding and following the second monitoring visit you receive a judgement of reasonable or significant progress for safeguarding, you will not then have an overall judgement of insufficient progress. The full inspection will then take place within 24 months from the publication of the first monitoring visit report.
Why the change?
This change seems to have been brought about as a response to three key factors:
- With the proliferation of apprenticeship providers since the launch of the ROATP, many of whom have no track record of apprenticeship delivery, there have been increasing concerns about assuring the quality of these new providers. Ofsted inspections are an evidence-based process, using achievement rates as a key measure of quality. With apprenticeships varying in length from 1-4 years, that achievement data just isn’t available for new providers.
- The change also recognises the transition from Frameworks, which are made up of component aims which are achieved throughout the duration of the apprenticeship, to Standards which may contain no component qualifications.
- Ofsted seems to be shifting its focus from achievement rates and exam results to measuring outcomes for learners. These might include securing employment or promotion to a different role, progression to further learning as well as softer outcomes such as increased confidence. This is a much fairer basis on which to judge the effectiveness of provision because it takes into account the distance a learner has travelled, rather than relying heavily on achievement data.
Ofsted plan to launch a consultation in January 2019 to overhaul the Common Inspection Framework (CIF), although we already know that the biggest change is towards an outcomes-based approach.
Other things to consider
- What are “….all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision”? Have a look at the Common Inspection Framework as well as the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) Quality Statement which sets out the requirements of an apprenticeship. How do you prove that you have the processes and controls in place to ensure that all the requirements are met? Don’t forget that they are looking at progress you have made to ensure that you can do it, not necessarily whether you have already achieved it. For example, for off-the-job learning, they will look at the quality of the training being delivered, rather than the detail of exactly how many hours each learner has spent off-the-job. It’s only if they think that you are delivering less than the 20% requirement or crucially that the quality of delivery is lacking, that they may look at recorded actual hours.
- Progress: how do you manage exceptions? How do you identify and support learners who are behind target – or just as importantly, how do you add challenge and stretch for learners who are racing ahead? To measure progress against targets you need to know your learner’s starting points based on an in-depth initial assessment and understand and record their personal and learning goals. Eportfolio tools such as eTrack can help you monitor each learner’s progress.
- Is your safeguarding policy effective? This doesn’t just mean having a safeguarding policy in place. Does everyone in the organisation know about the policy and how it relates to them, from apprentices to the CEO? And can you prove what you have done to ensure that they know about it, understand it and know what to do if they identify a safeguarding issue? If you’ve had any safeguarding issues, how have these been handled, and do you have records of this?
With FE Week recording that “a quarter of apprenticeship providers that have received early-monitoring visits from Ofsted so far have been rated ‘insufficient progress’”, preparing for Ofsted should be a top priority for new providers.
If you’d like to speak to one of our apprenticeship experts to guide you through your Ofsted preparation, get in touch.