From education to employment

Teamwork critical to achieving Ofsted ‘outstanding’

Sue Pittock OBE is CEO of Remit Training

Sue Pittock attributes Remit Training’s being judged outstanding to a combination of sound investment and highly committed teamwork.

Our sector is currently navigating very choppy waters. For those of us who specialise in apprenticeships, there has been no general increase in funding rates since 2017 even though inflation has placed an enormous burden on our operating costs, particularly in the past 18 months.

Other providers have suffered from the demise of traineeships, another frustrating AEB procurement, the loss of ESF contracts and/or the funding rule challenges presented by skills bootcamps. At the same time, we are quite rightly expected to deliver high quality training for employer clients and learners.

So when Remit Training was recently informed that Ofsted had judged our provision to be ‘outstanding’ for the first time, I was naturally very pleased but also reminded of the observations made in a report on apprenticeships in September 2018 (yes, 2018!) by the House of Commons Education Committee under its former chair and now skills minister Robert Halfon MP, specifically: “Our concern is that value for money is becoming a synonym for cheaper. High quality provision can be expensive, but it is worth it. Setting funding bands so low as to reduce the quality of training or dissuade employers from recruiting apprentices is a false economy”.

Investment in quality

The point is that our provision has become very expensive but Remit Training has responded to ensure that it is indeed outstanding. As a STEM apprenticeship provider investing in academy facilities and equipment and in the absence of funding rate increases, we have had to grow our commercial training business in order to make our apprenticeship training sustainable, i.e. our commercial training activity cross-subsidises our apprenticeship provision.

This investment has received its rightful reward. Ofsted acknowledged our “exceptionally equipped classrooms and workshops” and “high-quality” curriculum and learning resources. The inspection report also credits our “apprentices’ behaviour, conduct and attitudes to learning” being “of a very high standard”. Remit Training is proud that our learners “talk positively about their learning experiences and how this supports them well for their future”.

Tireless and committed colleagues

My biggest takeaway from the Ofsted experience was how many individuals played very different roles to make the greater whole. I have never seen teamwork like I witnessed during this inspection. Many colleagues worked tirelessly from the moment the call came until the process concluded on the Friday. 

There were so many colleagues who came alive during the whole process and so many small subgroups who became great friends during this experience. Some, who were on holiday, commented that they felt like they had missed out not being part of this experience. On hearing this, you know that you have colleagues who really care. 

When reflecting on this inspection, it was the first time we had seen so many individuals instantly know what part they felt they could and wanted to play. Some colleagues set themselves very high benchmarks and at times you could see the strain if they did not feel things went perfectly for their group. They would prepare again and go straight in for their next interview. 

Remit Training worked closely with the Fellowship of Inspection Nominees and this was a great support to many colleagues who were interviewed. In addition, we had a year of daily 8am calls, different team captains, spot prizes and so much distance was travelled. These practices will continue to underpin our work. 

In summary, I could not be prouder and feel truly blessed to work with such an impressive #TeamRemit.  As our chair Rob Foulston said, this was for him the best moment in 15 years. For me, this was a great way to celebrate my 10-year anniversary with Remit Training and being part of such a hard working, dedicated and tenacious team of colleagues alongside an equally committed group of employer clients. 

We can see Gillian Keegan and Robert Halfon are committed to see our education ecosystem go from strength to strength. I am sure they will fight to see apprenticeships funded appropriately and to ensure our sector moves to calmer waters soon. For our part, we will always maintain providing our valued apprentices and employer partners a quality learning experience as our primary focus.

By Sue Pittock OBE is chief executive of Remit Training

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