Learning from Ofsted Early Monitoring Visits of Apprenticeships
Based on the conversations we are having with our clients, Ofsted is occupying the minds of many of you, particularly those expecting a monitoring visit or first full inspection.
For this second post, we’ve looked at the outcomes of new provider monitoring visits between March and August 2021. We’ll give you the headline figures, then focus on the learning points from the first theme. You can find our first post, focused on inspections of employer providers here.
As a reminder, inspectors make judgements against three themes during EMVs for apprenticeships.
- How much progress have leaders made in ensuring that the provider is meeting all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision?
- What progress have leaders and managers made in ensuring that apprentices benefit from high quality training that leads to positive outcomes for apprentices?
- How much progress have leaders and managers made in ensuring that effective safeguarding arrangements are in place?
The table below summarises the outcomes. It’s helpful to recognise that these are progress judgements. A ‘reasonable’ judgement shows that the provider is on the right path, with some work still to do prior to a first inspection.
Reports published between 1st March-19th August 2021.
Theme 1 learning points
“How much progress have leaders made in ensuring that the provider is meeting all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision?”
Twenty-eight providers were found to be making insufficient progress in this theme from the reports we reviewed.
To help understand why, I’ve highlighted four areas to support your own SAR and QIP development. These same issues often arise in our work with new apprenticeship providers. It is one of the reasons we created the free starter version of the mesma platform to help providers on the journey to develop a rigorous approach to quality improvement.
- Governance arrangements are underdeveloped
Most often this relates to those responsible for governance not receiving accurate or useful information resulting in a poor understanding of the provision’s strengths and weaknesses. The impact is an ability to effectively support, challenge and hold leaders to account to make improvements where needed.
“Governors do not have an accurate understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the apprenticeship provision. As such, governors are unable to support or challenge leaders to make the steps necessary to improve the quality of training.”
“Formal governance arrangements are not yet in place. Leaders have plans to introduce an apprenticeship governance board.”
- Leaders do not have good oversight of the apprenticeship provision
This results in leaders lacking an understanding of the extent to which apprentices are developing new knowledge and skills. On occasions, this can impact on intervention strategies not being in place to support rapid improvement. This includes subcontracted provision where relevant.
“Leaders do not have an accurate oversight of apprentices’ progress. They do not monitor apprentices’ progress towards the development of knowledge, skills, and behaviours. Leaders do not provide adequate support for apprentices to catch up when they fall behind. Too many apprentices make slow progress.”
“Leaders do not have sufficient oversight of the quality of learning apprentices receive. The management information available to leaders is inaccurate.”
- Lack of quality assurance strategy and external scrutiny
Linked to poor oversight, this is often expressed as leaders having a poor understanding of the quality of delivery and the capabilities of the delivery team. The impact is team members not being well supported to improve their own knowledge and skills as educators.
“Until recently, leaders have not identified the weaknesses of the provision. They have plans, at an early stage of implementation, to improve their overview of the quality of the training. However, these plans are not precise enough, nor are they having a beneficial impact on the experience of apprentices.”
“Leaders have not ensured that they provide staff with development opportunities to help them improve in their teaching.”
“Leaders have established quality assurance procedures, which they use to identify areas for improvement, but these are not sufficiently effective. For example, they recognise that a minority of staff do not yet understand the apprenticeship standards fully. Leaders also recognise that they do not have any form of governance to provide support and external scrutiny of the work of the company.”
- Lack of effective programme planning
This can be a multi-faceted issue, resulting in for example, ineffective on/off the job training, and a lack of planning for functional skills delivery, lack employer input to the design and planning of the apprenticeship programme, and poor understanding of end-point assessment.
“All apprentices have the same programme of learning irrespective of their previous experience or the practice they work in. For example, tutors do not identify apprentices’ previous skills and experience they may have had prior to beginning their apprenticeship.”
“The job role of these apprentices does not allow them to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to meet the requirements of the < > standard. Leaders and managers are not meeting the principles of an apprenticeship because they are not preparing apprentices sufficiently well for their final assessments.”
“The development of knowledge and skills in English and mathematics does not have sufficient focus within the curriculum. There is no plan for how apprentices should build on what they do know, to improve their English and mathematics skills.”
There are eighteen providers who have made ‘significant progress’ in this theme. Whilst many of the reports show the opposite picture of the issues highlighted above, it is also worth noting positive comments in relation highly effective advice and guidance from the outset, value-add activity built into programmes, employer commitment to meeting their obligations and the speed at which resources are provided to overcome quality issues.
Collaborating with us
If you would like to find out more about our work with providers to underpin highly effective quality assurance, please visit mesma.co.uk to find out more about our software platform and events programme. You can also sign up to our community to receive weekly insights to your inbox and exclusive content.