Apprenticeship Challenges – Ofsted Inspections and Judgements
Doing nothing is no longer an option if training providers wish to continue operating
Introduction: The Current Context
Since 2015, the Government has driven improvement in apprenticeships. This programme of reform was responsible for the launch of the levy and the introduction of standards, amongst other changes.
In 2019, Ofsted revised its inspection criteria, releasing the New Educational Framework. The emphasis of this NEF was on intent, implementation, and impact, with much-reduced credit given to achieving data-driven outcomes. With the apprenticeship reform's introduction of the behavioural standards, and now Ofsted introducing two of only four criteria that focus directly on these components, many providers are rightly worried about their next inspection visit.
This article is the last in a series of short reads covering the pain points faced by apprenticeship training providers in this new world.
In this piece we take a look at the challenges presented by approval bodies.
Ofsted inspection and judgements
Foremost in an RoATP training provider's mind is the link between a judgment and their listing on this register. The financial health of a training provider that offers training for external organisations relies on a judgement between 1 and 3 from Ofsted and a judgement of inadequate means removal from the register. Even a grade 3, requiring improvement, will pressure any training provider hoping to stay solvent in a competitive landscape. With the notable cooling in the tone from Government when addressing the work of ITPs, there is a sense of risk here as training providers are being identified as the problem in need of a solution.
The New Educational Framework changed Ofsted's priority from outcomes to implementation. There was also a change in emphasis, as two of the four judgements now focus on behaviour and personal development.
The change to emphasise learners' future employability and work-effectiveness mean that the behaviour standards have become critical for training providers. Where previously the solution to these standards was a basic audit or to do nothing, there now needs to be an intent to develop the learner and a clear implementation package.
The risk of a training provider receiving a negative judgement is existential. Therefore, finding a way to successfully develop a delivery programme for the behaviour standards has become a priority.
Saying the word “Ofsted” has some of the sensation of saying "Voldemort" in a Harry Potter novel. Most educators have a visceral reaction that causes a shiver and a swift glance over the shoulder.
The route to success with Ofsted is having a proactive strategy in place. We can all defend a position, but those who are outstanding generally show active intent to demonstrate the best practice. Indeed, intent is one of the key words Ofsted now promote in its training for centres.
Implementation of the strategy and the evidence of its impact are also central to the judgement made.
Entelechy has designed a solution that is “intent” on improving the character of apprentices and in so doing demonstrating impact in the behaviour standards. It is not just that these elements are covered and a tick placed by the standard. The apprentice demonstrates through assessments that there has been an impact on their performance. Everything we have designed, using the century of experience in our team, is focused on ensuring you are outstanding.