The Entelechy Team joined other AELP members to hear directly from Ofsted Inspectors what their priorities are for the next two years. Here's what we learned.
We are all aware of the influence that Ofsted has on the way we work. A grade 3 judgement can significantly affect an ITP’s brand perception in an already competitive market, and limits business development, whilst a Grade 4 can put a training provider out of business entirely. Indeed, Ofsted was keen to mention that 80 ITPs had gone out of business or had their funding removed in 2021. This is almost 10% of all ITPs: an incredible figure.
Yet, judgements from Ofsted are more than just existential to a business. They act as validation for the hard work you and your team have put in over the last few years. And, let's face it, they have been a few years like no others. The chance that you may be expected to endure an Ofsted inspection feels like intense pressure, yet more than half of existing ITPs will be inspected in the next two years. This means that nearly 600 training providers are sitting and waiting, anxious for that call to come.
It was a familiar message from Ofsted. There was an appreciation of the difficulties faced by facilitators. Yet, the inspectors were firm in their stance that educational standards for learners must be maintained. No learner should face disadvantages, and provision should be in place to mitigate any gaps created by the pandemic. While there was talk of a skills deficit, there was a more obvious concern about the loss of essential social skills and the mental health difficulties caused.
Learners are coming to apprenticeships without the same levels of time in the classroom and with no work experience available. Existing apprentices have faced months furloughed, and any prior learning has likely been lost or diminished.
"The gap" created by COVID-19 is a clear priority for Ofsted, and how training providers address this problem will be scrutinised in inspections. Paul Joyce HMI stated that there would likely be a need for additional teaching and learning to aid learners in their journey to their future careers.
Initial assessment and individual learning plans
Another significant priority for Ofsted was the initial assessment. ITPs use a skills scan to submit to ESFA for funding calculations. The question raised by the inspectors was whether this initial assessment was then used to guide the individual journey of a learner through the apprenticeship.
The judgement shared with the room of AELP members was harsh. The practice of using initial assessments in shaping individual learning plans was not widespread, and it was perceived there was significant room for improvement in this area. Throughout the day, the outstanding providers spoke about how Ofsted focused on a small cohort of learners and their personalised journey. If the apprentice's learning was not shaped by the initial assessment, it was difficult to get a judgement above 2.
A logical and structured curriculum
A final priority worth highlighting was the emphasis on a "logical and structured curriculum" and the definition of the word “curriculum” being wider than a course, standard or qualification.
Ofsted is interested in the growth of the individual. There is not just the intent, implementation, and impact of the delivery of the technical standards to consider, though this is a significant change from the previous emphasis on progress. High-quality training providers must develop the behaviours expected in the professional setting and focus on the individual's personal development as they enter their career.
When Ofsted implemented the New Educational Framework, the intention was clear. No longer could providers achieve “outstanding” by hothousing learners to strong outcomes. The quality of delivery now became essential. The removal of learner outcomes from the four judgment areas, replaced with the separation of behaviours and personal development into two judgements, clearly demonstrates the change in emphasis.
Entelechy and Ofsted
What was positive for the Entelechy team was the sheer weight of evidence that we can help training providers.
The importance of character is written into the New Education Framework, and Ofsted asks training providers to:
"Support learners to develop their character – including their resilience, confidence and independence."
It is part of the growth of the whole person, preparing apprenticeships for a future career in their sector. In the time of COVID-19, this is more important than ever, especially with the emphasis on closing the social skills gap.
Two of the four Ofsted gradings are now influenced by the requirement to develop the person. Behaviour and personal development have been separated into two separate judgements. The demands on curriculum design require you to demonstrate an intent to deliver these, along with clear implementation, and impact. In short, you must establish why you are delivering as you are, how you deliver on your promise, and evidence this has influenced the learner. The Entelechy solution answers each of these questions, covering you for a large proportion of the Ofsted judgements.
Finally, and most importantly, our approach helps the learner develop a personal plan to enhance their behaviours. We have an initial assessment called 360Explore, which helps the learner design a personalised programme for their behavioural needs. Built into our approach is the drive to put the learner in control of their personal development. We also equip them with the mindset and tools required to meet these standards independently.
We would love to speak to you about the Entelechy approach to delivering the behaviour standards. Get in touch, and we can show you how we can relieve some of the Ofsted pressure.