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The Sedgefield Borough Council Training and Employment Services (SBC) staff and learners awoke to find a letter from David Sherlock, Chief Inspector of the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI), praising their sterling success in the area.

The programme in the area, called Training and Employment Services, is part of Sedgefield Borough Council and has two training centres - one based in Spennymoor and the other in Chilton, in County Durham. The area has also seen another initiative, the Sedgefield Learning Borough Initiative, established to raise aspirations and skill levels within the Borough by encouraging wider participation in learning.

The Successful Report

The inspection found that the SBC should be awarded the highest grade, a grade 1 or "outstanding", for its Business, Administration and Law programme. Furthermore, the same grade of "outstanding" was awarded for its approach to leadership and management, as well as for the efforts made in quality improvement.

This did not mark the totality of their achievement, however. SBC was also awarded a grade 2 or "good" for its Construction and Preparation for Life and Work programmes. It will be a matter of great pride that, at a time when Diversity and Equality are seen to be increasingly central in the FE sector, the SBC also gained a grade 2 "good" for its approach to Equality of Opportunity and for Overall Effectiveness.

Learners Benefiting from Excellent Provision

The report also contained the positive reactions of the learners who have benefited from the services offered. For example, there are 53 learners following the Entry to Employment (E2E) programme and 54 learners following a basic employability training programme. One learner on a Skills for Life course, Dan Ross, said that the staff made him and his fellow learners feel comfortable, and that he gained in confidence through the course.

Another learner to be referred to was Joe Beal, a bricklaying apprentice who stated that he "didn"t like going to school and left with no qualifications". The general impression of a supportive environment was reinforced here, and he said the support he had received from his tutors was "brilliant". Joe recently successfully completed his Level 1 National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in numeracy and literacy is now working for Baseline, a construction firm in West Auckland in County Durham.

ALI and Borough Council Respond

The Chief Executive of Sedgefield Borough Council, Norman Vaulks, was delighted, saying: "Sedgefield Borough Council has a long history of involvement in the delivery of Government-funded training provision and we have always endeavoured to ensure that our Training Service makes an important contribution towards the achievement of the Council's corporate ambition of building a prosperous local economy.

"I am absolutely delighted with the results of the ALI," he continued, "which have confirmed my belief that Sedgefield Borough Council provides an excellent service to both its youth and adult learners."

David Sherlock echoed the inspection reports positive statements, commenting: "The whole team at Sedgefield Borough Training and Employment Services should be proud and deserve great praise. They were able to meet the criteria of the Common Inspection Framework, the standard against which all training establishments are graded.

"We are very pleased," he added, "that the independent assessment of the ALI's inspectors indicates that learners here are benefiting from the organisation's high quality approach. When people improve their skills and achieve their qualifications they benefit their organisation, their communities and themselves."

Jethro Marsh

With this much good work being done, should the ALI disappear within Ofsted? Tell us in the FE Blog


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