‘Outstanding’ provider not inspected for 11 years downgraded in first Ofsted report

From FE Week:

Inspectors did highlight the provider’s ‘ambitious curriculum and culture’

An FE and skills provider previously exempt from Ofsted inspections has lost its ‘outstanding’ status in the first round of published reports.

Independent provider Fareport Training Organisation Limited has dropped to a grade two in its first Ofsted visit since it earned a grade one in 2011.

‘Outstanding’ providers are being inspected this term for the first time since 2010, after an exemption was removed last year.

It will be the first time ‘outstanding’ providers are inspected under the education inspection framework (EIF), which was introduced in 2019.

As such, Ofsted expects fewer providers will stay ‘outstanding’, with national director for education Chris Russell saying the framework makes that “a challenging and exacting judgment to achieve”.

This week the watchdog announced every college will receive a full inspection until 2025, regardless of whether they are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. Typically, such colleges would receive a short inspection.

Ofsted pulls up provider on careers advice and functional skills

At the time of its inspection, Fareport had 449 apprentices on levels 2 to 5, who “develop substantial new knowledge and skills, which they apply quickly at work”.

Inspectors highlighted how leaders “have created an ambitious curriculum and culture for apprentices, including those with additional learning needs”.

The provider was brought up on its functional skills provision though, with the report finding trainers “lack the confidence to support apprentices with English and maths”, so the learners fail their exams multiple times or do not pass them before they get near the end of their training.

Apprentices do not benefit from impartial careers advice, so “do not know what they may be able to do outside their current company or sector”. But they are informed about further qualifications and opportunities with their current employer.

In a statement, Fareport called the inspection process “very thorough and testing”, but the report “highlights many strengths”. The provider had not self-assessed as ‘outstanding’ this year, owing to a dip in success rates caused by a “large number” of apprentices leaving work or not being released for training.

Retention issues, Fareport says, “have now been largely resolved”.

On the recommendation about functional skills, the provider said it has an action plan under way and has appointed a new trainer. It will be implementing impartial careers advice in consultation with its employers.

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