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Education in the media: 23 January 2018

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Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at Ofsted inspections for apprenticeship training providers.

Apprenticeship training providers

Today, Tuesday 23 January, a story ran in the Times which suggests that many apprentices are receiving inadequate training, and that Ofsted inspectors are struggling to inspect the increased number of training providers since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.

Last year, Ofsted inspected 182 apprenticeship training providers, and found that over half of apprentices trained by these organisations were in good or outstanding provision – this equates to around 90,000 apprentices receiving good or outstanding provision. Ofsted take a risk-based approach to inspection and therefore outcomes in any given year may be more heavily representative of those with “requires improvement” or “inadequate” grades than the market as a whole as providers with a ‘higher risk’ of underperformance are prioritised for inspection.

The department takes swift action when an apprenticeship training provider is rated as inadequate by Ofsted.

Any provider that receives an inadequate Ofsted assessment is struck off the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers – a list of organisations that are approved by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to deliver apprenticeship training for employers, and any that are not already on the list will be banned from applying to it. Any providers not on the list will not be an approved provider and will therefore not be able to access any government funding towards their apprenticeship training. All private providers that receive an Ofsted rating of Inadequate are also unable to take on any new apprenticeship starts.

The piece in the Times states that Ofsted is struggling to inspect training providers due to an increase in new providers since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in May 2017.

We have been working closely with Ofsted throughout the introduction of our apprenticeship reforms and will continue to do so as demand increases. We know that Ofsted are monitoring new training providers closely and are carrying out early monitoring visits as part of this work. Ofsted also sit on the Quality Alliance, set up by the Institute for Apprenticeships specifically to monitor quality in the apprenticeship sector.

We’ve seen over 1.1 million people start apprenticeships since May 2015, but our reforms are not just about quantity but about quality. That’s why we are continuing focus on the quality of apprenticeships by insisting that all apprenticeships must be real paid jobs, have a minimum duration of 12 months and involve clear skills gain including off-the-job training. Employers are also designing new high quality apprenticeships that address the specific skills requirements of their sectors and are more responsive to the needs of their businesses.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Organisations listed on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers have been through a rigorous application process where the ESFA considers a variety of measures including, quality and a provider’s capability to deliver high-quality apprenticeship training.

Where a provider has been rated inadequate, the ESFA has provisions in place to ensure that learners continue to receive high quality training.”

We will shortly be setting out what removal from the Register for Apprenticeship Training Providers means in practice for all apprenticeship training providers in terms of existing learners and new starts.

Find out more about our reforms to apprenticeship funding here.

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