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Apprenticeship Providers: What You Need to Know About Ofsted
July 2, 2019
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One of the topics keeping new apprenticeship providers awake at night is the prospect of Ofsted inspection. The regime for inspection of new apprenticeship providers changed in 2018, here’s a summary of what you can expect. (Article first published in December 2018)

If you’re a new training provider directly funded for delivering apprenticeships from or after April 2017, rather than the usual full or short inspection, you should expect a new monitoring visit from Ofsted.

When?

Normally within 24 months of the start of the funding, that’s when you first start delivering funded learning not the date you first got onto the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers which might have been much earlier.

How?

You’ll be given two working days’ notice. The visits normal last up to two days and the report will be published on https://www.gov.uk/find-ofsted-inspection-report.

Inspectors will make judgements against different themes to the previous full or short inspections. They are:

“How much progress have leaders & managers made to ensure….?

  • the provider is meeting all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision.
  • apprentices benefit from high-quality training that leads to positive outcomes for apprentices
  • effective safeguarding arrangements are in place.
  • learners benefit from high-quality adult education that prepares them well for their intended job role, career aims and/or personal goals” (only applicable to providers delivering adult education).

Rather than being graded from grade 1: Outstanding to grade 4: Inadequate, monitoring visits use a new judgement grading:

  • insufficient progress: progress has been either slow or insubstantial or both, and the demonstrable impact on learners has been negligible.
  • reasonable progress: action taken by the provider is already having a beneficial impact on learners and improvements are sustainable and are based on the provider’s thorough quality assurance procedures.
  • significant progress: progress has been rapid and is already having considerable beneficial impact on learners.

These judgements are awarded against each of the four themes as well as an overall judgement being awarded.

What happens after your monitoring visit?

You can expect your first full inspection within 24 months of the publication of the report from your monitoring visit.

Unless:

  1. You have had one or more ‘insufficient progress’ judgements which results in full inspection within 6 to 12 months or:
  2. The effectiveness of your safeguarding arrangements was awarded an ‘insufficient progress’. This results in one further monitoring visit to review only safeguarding within four months of the visit, rather than publication of the report as that may be some weeks after the visit.

If your only insufficient progress judgement relates to safeguarding and following the second monitoring visit you receive a judgement of reasonable or significant progress for safeguarding, you will not then have an overall judgement of insufficient progress. The full inspection will then take place within 24 months from the publication of the first monitoring visit report.

Why the change?

This change seems to have been brought about as a response to three key factors:

  1. With the proliferation of apprenticeship providers since the launch of the ROATP, many of whom have no track record of apprenticeship delivery, there have been increasing concerns about assuring the quality of these new providers. Ofsted inspections are an evidence-based process, using achievement rates as a key measure of quality. With apprenticeships varying in length from 1-4 years, that achievement data just isn’t available for new providers.
  2. The change also recognises the transition from Frameworks, which are made up of component aims which are achieved throughout the duration of the apprenticeship, to Standards which may contain no component qualifications.
  3. Ofsted seems to be shifting its focus from achievement rates and exam results to measuring outcomes for learners. These might include securing employment or promotion to a different role, progression to further learning as well as softer outcomes such as increased confidence. This is a much fairer basis on which to judge the effectiveness of provision because it takes into account the distance a learner has travelled, rather than relying heavily on achievement data.

Ofsted plan to launch a consultation in January 2019 to overhaul the Common Inspection Framework (CIF), although we already know that the biggest change is towards an outcomes-based approach. 

Other things to consider 
  • What are “….all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision”?   Have a look at the Common Inspection Framework as well as the  Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) Quality Statement which sets out  the requirements of an apprenticeship. How do you prove that you have the processes and controls in place to ensure that all the requirements are met? Don’t forget that they are looking at progressyou have made to ensure that you can do it, not necessarily whether you have already achieved it. For example, for off-the-job learning, they will  look at  the quality of the training being delivered, rather than the detail of exactly how many hours each learner has spent off-the-job. It’s only if they think that you are delivering less than the 20% requirement or crucially that the quality of delivery is lacking, that they may look at recorded actual hours.  
  • Progress: how do you manage exceptions? How do you identify and support learners who are behind target – or just as importantly, how do you add challenge and stretch for learners who are racing ahead? To measure progress against targets you need to know your learner’s starting points based on an in-depth initial assessment and understand and record their personal and learning goals. Eportfolio tools such as eTrack can help you monitor each learner’s progress.
  • Is your safeguarding policy effective? This doesn’t just mean having a safeguarding policy in place. Does everyone in the organisation know about the policy and how it relates to them, from apprentices to the CEO? And can you prove what you have done to ensure that they know about it, understand it and know what to do if they identify a safeguarding issue? If you’ve had any safeguarding issues, how have these been handled, and do you have records of this?

With FE Week recording that “a quarter of apprenticeship providers that have received early-monitoring visits from Ofsted so far have been rated ‘insufficient progress’”, preparing for Ofsted should be a top priority for new providers.

ESFA Calls for Help to Develop the Apprenticeship Service
June 17, 2019
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ESFA has opened an Expressions of Interest (EOI) for small and medium sized apprenticeship employers and supporting training providers to help develop the apprenticeship service

The Education and Skills funding Agency (ESFA) has opened an Expressions of Interest (EOI) for small and medium sized employers and supporting training providers that currently have a non-levy contract to help the ESFA in its initial phase, to test the system functionality of the apprenticeship service for employers who do not pay the Levy.

Small and medium sized employers that do not pay the Apprenticeship Levy, as well as their supporting training providers, can now express their interest to help ESFA shape its services so it meets future needs for all employers. To apply to test the service: Read more

Getting On the New (tougher) #RoATP

The new Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers has now been launched and providers currently on the Register will be invited to reapply before the year is out.

So, what do you need to think about before submitting your application? SDN Associates (and former ESFA Senior Managers) Karen Kelly and Anna Sutton give us their top 5 tips:

But first, what’s different about the new Register?

In short, it’s a more robust and stringent process. There are new questions and a greater emphasis of examples, so the ESFA can assess readiness to deliver.

The ESFA also want to see more evidence and detail – in particular, your policies, processes and procedures, such as an Employer Engagement process that wasn’t a requirement previously.

So, with that in mind, here are our top tips:

1. Make sure your application tells your story

The RoATP application is all about getting across how you will deliver excellent apprenticeship training for apprentices and businesses again and again. This means it’s important to articulate confidently why your apprenticeship service deserves to be on the Register. In the skills and education sector, we can often undersell ourselves – this application is not the place to be reserved, it’s your chance to shout about the great work you do, so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to deliver apprenticeships.

Having said that, it’s even more important to be sure your story is ready to be heard. By that we mean, don’t apply to the Register if you can’t meet all the criteria that is asked of you. Read the application thoroughly and use it to reflect on your practice and get your business up-to-speed before applying.

2. Collect examples of good practice

Throughout the application form you are asked for examples that demonstrate your good practice. This means it doesn’t matter if you’re re-applying to the Register or a complete newbie, you should be confident you have case studies that showcase your readiness before applying.

SDN has already supported several training providers through this process, and one of the first things we say to our clients is to read and understand what is required from the application before applying. It may be wise to spend the next three months collecting evidence and case studies before putting your first application attempt together.

3. The devil is in the detail

Throughout the application you are asked to submit various policies and procedures. It’s easy to go through these like a checklist… ‘Health & Safety policy? – Check!’, ‘Safeguarding policy? – Check!’, but do those documents tease out the information that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is looking for?

This is especially significant to applicants completely new to apprenticeships. You may have been successfully delivering commercial training for decades and have an up-to-date Health & Safety policy, but it should specifically reference apprentices in your application so the ESFA is confident you can support this type of learner sufficiently.

4. Live your practice and policies

If you do not have specific policies that you need for the application, it can be tempting just to buy an off-the-shelf document from a consultant or a bid writer. Whilst working with a third party like SDN can be a huge help… please, please, please make sure you have direct input into what is written about your business.

If you submit policies and procedures in your application that sound great, but do not reflect the processes you have in place, this can come back to bite you. Yes, you may get on to the Register in the short-term, but if there are problems with one employer or one apprentice and you have not followed the procedures you laid out in your application – the ESFA is quite within their right to ask questions as to why.

Make sure your application reflects what is happening on the ground and isn’t a wish list. If you’re not delivering the way the application expects you to, get ready first.

5. Get external support if you’re unsure

Whether you currently deliver apprenticeships, or have aspirations to do so – getting on, or maintaining your status on the Register could be critical to the success of your future plans – so it’s worth investing in!

You get two attempts per year at submitting a RoATP application. This means you can have a go at applying and still not be ruled out, but it can be a stressful period for you and your staff if you don’t get through first time.

For those that prefer the reassurance of a critical friend, why not work with an external organisation to critique your application or even help assess your readiness and guide you through the process? This could be another training/employer provider or an industry expert’s RoATP application service.

Former ESFA Senior Managers, Karen Kelly and Anna Sutton, Associates, SDN

ViewPoint: Good Governance Must be Pursued by all Providers’
September 19, 2018
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What does good governance look like for independent training providers, asks Dr Sue Pember

When we see the annual summer education headlines on television and in newspapers – the GCSE exam results, back to school and university, etc – we can be tempted to make the mistake of forgetting the
ViewPoint:ongoing work of the independent sector, which works with employers, apprentices and trainees all year round. This is something we should correct.

Independent training providers are vital to the nation’s success and make up a significant part of this country’s skills provision and training, but often they only make the press when something goes wrong – and often this is a breakdown of governance. Therefore, good governance is key to achieving success, improving reputation and safeguarding the longevity of the sector.

In the world of corporate governance, achieving good governance is not a new pursuit, and debates as to what it looks like have been raging for many years; when it fails it can have dire effects on a company. So, like all essentially contested concepts, what we know and understand by the term “good governance” may never be fully understood, but it is now time to take that debate into the independent training sector.

Clear principles ‘are vital’ Read more

Recognising Excellence in Governance of Independent Training Providers
September 4, 2018
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This webinar will explain how independent training providers (ITPs) as deliverers of publicly funded skills programmes can benefit from adopting a new Code of Good Governance for ITPs drawn up by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers with support from FETL. 

With provider sustainability an important issue during a period of unprecedented sector reform, Dr Sue Pember and Mark Dawe will discuss why good governance helps ensure that funds are well spent, are focused on government priorities and are delivering high-quality teaching and learning for the benefit of employers and learners.  They will also explain how the Code can work for providers of all sizes.

LIVE WEBINAR

Friday Friday 14th September 2018 12:30 – 13:30

Register for the Webinar Here

 

 

AELP Launches New Code of Good Governance for Independent Training Providers

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) is consulting on a new Code of Good Governance for Independent Training Providers who deliver publicly funded skills programmes on behalf of the government.

The draft Code sets out the key themes and principles which any provider in the sector will need to adopt in order to show that it is conducting its business in the best interest of its trainees, Training employers, key stakeholders and funders.

It adopts and builds on the Seven (Nolan) Principles of Public Life which provide an ethical framework for the personal behaviour of a provider’s board members and leadership.

These standards are:

  1. Selflessness
  2. Integrity
  3. Objectivity
  4. Accountability
  5. Openness
  6. Honesty
  7. Leadership

With support from the Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL), the Code has been designed to apply to all independent training providers (ITPs), including limited companies, charities and not-for-profit organisations and AELP is strongly recommending that all of its ITP members adopt it. Read more

T Levels: Next Steps for Providers

The EFSA  published their information for post-16 institutions on the next steps towards delivery of T levels on 6th March 2018.

Purpose

The purpose of this guidance is to inform all post-16 providers about ESFA’s plans over the next 6 months and 3 key surveys they will be asking you to respond to, to help support you to implement T levels.

 

T level consultation, consultation on occupational maps and stakeholder events

The Department for Education and the Institute for Apprenticeships issued consultations on the proposed T level programmes and on the Occupational Maps.

Both consultations closed on 8 February 2018. ESFA have also run 2 sets of events since October last year, to raise awareness about the reforms to technical education, and to socialise the consultation.

ESFA are very grateful to those of you who took part in the events and for your views via the consultations; they are currently analysing all of the responses received. They expect to publish a response to the consultation on T levels in early May, and updated versions of the occupational maps will be published on the Institute’s website in the spring.

Expressions of interest to deliver T levels in the 2020 to 2021 academic year

Read more

Apprenticeship End-Point Assessments: A Guide for Employers
December 3, 2017
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Ofqual has published the guide, “Apprenticeship end-point assessments: Ofqual’s approach to external quality assurance” about their approach to external quality assurance of apprenticeship end-point assessments.

This guide is aimed at employers involved in this process. It details the way in which Ofqual, as the statutory regulator of qualifications, will approach the external quality assurance of end-point assessments.

Each apprentice is required to take an end-point assessment to complete their apprenticeship. The assessment will be delivered by a registered end-point assessment organisation.

The purpose of external quality assurance is to ensure that there is a consistent quality and approach to assessment across an apprenticeship standard, regardless of which organisation is delivering the assessment and where and when this is carried out.

 

To download the guide CL|ICK HERE

‘Ofsted must start inspecting subcontractors’ Says Halfon
November 6, 2017
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The head of the Commons education select committee wants a “wholesale review” into why Ofsted is yet to inspect a single subcontractor more than a year after the rules changed.

Robert Halfon, a former skills minister, made the demand days after chief inspector Amanda Spielman admitted that she too was worried by this lack of action.

“We need a wholesale review into subcontracting and whether it enhances or curtails quality apprenticeships,” he told FE Week.

“I strongly believe that Ofsted needs to make the inspection of subcontractors a priority.”

It is “wrong that so many subcontractors are not inspected”, he continued, as it is hard to know otherwise whether apprentices get the quality of training “they deserve”.

Read more

Impact of Apprenticeship Levy on Commercial Training Providers
June 27, 2017
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Cleverbloggs Multimedia has posted a number of useful blogs regarding the changes to funding and what is required to deliver apprenticeships. They have pulled together all the relevant ESFA funding rules and documents links into this one post.

Click Here to Access the Site