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Birmingham Rathbone, Birmingham


Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision Satisfactory: Grade 3

Capacity to improve Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Achievement and standards Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Quality of provision Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Leadership and management Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Good Grade 2

Sector subject areas:

Health, public services and care Satisfactory: Grade 3

Preparation for life and work Satisfactory: Grade 3


Based in Birmingham, Birmingham Rathbone is one of the largest registered charities and all learners have a learning difficulty and/or disability. Birmingham Rathbone currently has contracts with the Birmingham and Solihull LSC for up to 35 apprentices, 187 Train to Gain learners and 153 learners on adult and community learning further education (FE) funded provision. Birmingham Rathbone has just gained a new contract for supported employment that targets people seeking employment, and a European Social Fund (ESF) project for up to 334 young people on a pre Entry to Employment (E2E) programme.

Ofsted found that the quality of the provision is satisfactory overall, however, the planning of learning is not always effective. For learners on the adult and community learning (FE) funded programmes, formal processes are not in place for staff to share information about individual learners’ progress. The self-assessment process was found to be satisfactory and the organisation was found to work effectively with a range of partners for the benefit of learners.

Birmingham Rathbone has demonstrated that it has satisfactory capacity to improve and that since the previous inspection in November 2005, it has appropriately remedied the weaknesses identified. Ofsted found the self-assessment process to be consultative and appropriately evaluative. Most of the strengths and many of the areas for improvement identified by inspectors have been recognised by the organisation. Key strengths include high success rates on NVQs, good development of learners’ practical and employability skills, good actions to support learners with significant barriers to learning and employment and effective partnership working for the benefit of learners.

Achievements and standards were found to be satisfactory, as was identified in the self-assessment report. Learners in all subject areas enjoy their study and develop good practical and employability skills such as reliability and good timekeeping. Most learners improve their confidence and self-esteem. Success rates on the adult and community learning (FE) funded preparation for life and work programmes have remained high at around 90% for the past three years. Overall success rates for apprentices are low, however they have improved over the past three years from 0% to 39% in the current year but remain significantly below the national average of 64%.


London Borough of Bexley Adult Education College, London


Summary of grades awarded:


Effectiveness of provision Satisfactory: Grade 3

Capacity to improve Good: Grade 2

Achievement and standards Satisfactory: Grade 3

Quality of provision Satisfactory: Grade 3

Leadership and management Satisfactory: Grade 3

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject areas::

Arts, media and publishing Satisfactory: Grade 3

Languages, literature and culture Good: Grade 2

Literacy and numeracy Satisfactory: Grade 3

Independent living and leisure skills Satisfactory: Grade 3

Family learning Good: Grade 2


The college sits within the authority’s children’s and young people’s services directorate and is Bexley council’s main provider of adult education of the borough. The college delivers over 1000 courses to approximately 9,000 learners, comprising 13,000 enrolments a year across all 15 sector subjects areas, and including discrete courses for schools as part of Bexley’s complementary curriculum within its 14-19 strategy. Accredited courses make up 53% of provision.

The overall effectiveness of the provision was found to be satisfactory. Bexley AEC has demonstrated good capacity to improve and most areas for improvement identified in the previous inspection have been dealt with or are currently receiving attention. The local authority and governing body provide very good support and have a clear and well-communicated understanding of the steps needed to secure further improvement.

The college’s self-assessment and quality improvement arrangements have improved since the previous inspection and are now good. The self-assessment report was found to be inclusive and the resultant report is comprehensive, including self-assessment and grading of all support and administrative functions of the college, plus a well articulated quality improvement plan. Overall, the currently report was found to be suitably critical, however, some sector subject areas failed to prioritise a number of strengths and areas for improvement found by inspectors. Key strengths include good leadership, good development of learners’ confidence and skills, very effective partnership working and good support for learners.

Achievements and standards are satisfactory overall and in accredited provision, success rates on level 1 long courses have held steady at around the national average for the past three years. Success rates on long level 2 courses were 6% above national rates in 2006/07 and rose a further 3% during 2007/08. Success rates on short courses have been at or very slightly below the national rate during the past three years.


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