Apprenticeship Reforms: What now for inspection?

Apprenticeship Reforms in England: What now for  inspection?

In our blog on 14th June we summarised the proposals from government for overseeing external quality arrangements under the apprenticeship reforms.

Whilst there is much noise about the reforms from many quarters, the one which appears to be the most silent on the implications is Ofsted.

We know that the government foresees Ofsted continuing to have a role in inspecting Apprenticeships, with the remit focused on inspecting the delivery of on-programme training and assessment. We know they will not have a role in the external quality arrangements for the Assessment Organisations undertaking end point assessment, with this remit determined by employer groups and published in the relevant assessment plans.

Yet life appears to be getting more complicated than it may seem in these overarching responsibilities. In our work with leaders and managers in colleges and training providers, we know one of their key concerns is understanding how Ofsted will inspect delivery, when the line between employer and training provider becomes increasingly blurred and the ‘ownership’ of success includes the remit of the organisations undertaking end point assessment.

Here, we suggest four questions for policy makers and Ofsted to help colleges and training providers plan effectively. You may want to add more?

  • The flexibilities inherent in the reforms allow for an employer to deliver all elements of an Apprenticeship (excluding qualifications unless they are an accredited centre) without engaging with a training provider or drawing down government funding. In this scenario, how will the quality of the Apprenticeship journey be monitored if, as is expected, Ofsted continue to only inspect delivery that attracts government funding? Is the determination of high quality solely down to the successful completion of the end point assessment?
  • Where an employer does a proportion of the on programme delivery, what will the apprenticeship provider be held accountable for by Ofsted where they only have direct control over the elements they are actively involved in?
  • How will the introduction of end point assessment impact on the calculation and accountability of success rate data?
  • Where Apprentices must sit but not necessarily pass the Level 2 Maths and English tests (as a minimum requirement of all Standards), how will this impact on success rates for providers and subsequent inspection outcomes?

We would welcome your thoughts on this.

In our next post on the Apprenticeship reforms we will consider the internal quality arrangements you may want to consider to help you prepare as a college or independent training provider.

Mesma provides self assessment and improvement planning software and consultancy to schools, colleges and independent training providers. You can find more about our work at

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