Carole Loader, Director, Mesma

Analysis of Ofsted’s FE reports reveals new insight into how sector leadership regards quality assurance, says Carole Loader, a director at Mesma:

It’s apparent from examining reports covering more than 60 providers who were inspected by Ofsted between February to April 2018, that a good number of employer providers, FE colleges, independent learning providers (ITPs), local authorities, not-for-profit organisations and specialist further education colleges still do not have adequate quality assurance arrangements in place. 

Indeed, drilling down, it’s clear from the reports that there are several common threads, which span each individual grade band. For instance, those organisations that achieved a grade one for overall effectiveness, collectively possessed leaders and managers who generated a culture of high standards and ambition with a focus on innovative working practices and excellent learner involvement - all a part of a wider cultural environment.  

Governors, who listened to learners’ views and acted on appropriate suggestions, were also highly involved in the top performing organisations. Staff expertise ensured learners succeeded through highly individualised teaching and learning: students received fully personalised programmes while care, physical and emotional learning needs were integrated as part of a wider holistic day-to-day academic experience. 

Apprentices benefitted from theory that linked well to work practices, and staff equipped learners for work in challenging environments. Overall, it appeared that analysis of Ofsted reports showed that staff prepared students very effectively for adulthood, which in turn, contributed to an enhanced quality of life.

Organisations that achieved a grade two had staff that created a warm and welcoming environment, where good teaching and learning was based on effective improvement strategies. Governors in some cases provided a good level of scrutiny and held leadership to account around course quality and achievement. 

However, bodies achieving this grade also demonstrated commonalities when it came to areas for improvement. Not all learners achieved the progress they were capable of while too few achieved English and maths. There were a range of reasons for this identified in the reports: ‘maths and English strategy not implemented’‘Leaders and managers do not monitor learners’ maths and English sufficiently well’, and ‘student attendance on maths and English GCSE is too low’ all stood out in analysis of the reports.

The promotion of Prevent Duty seemed to remain an issue too. ‘Learners do not have sufficient understanding of the risks of radicalisation and extremism’ was cited while ‘…staff confidence to promote Prevent Duty effectively’ saw learners’ understanding and recognition of the risks associated with radicalisation and extremism require clarity, particularly among those with learning difficulties.

While grade three organisations tended to nurture safe and caring environments and had learners and apprentices capable of developing self-confidence, leaders and managers often had not taken sufficient steps to improve since the last Ofsted inspection. They also lacked sufficient oversight across teaching environments and information, advice and guidance activity does not always raise the learners’ ambition.

Analysis of organisations with grade four for overall effectiveness showed up several areas where improvement was paramount. These ranged from inadequate safeguarding and poor teaching standards, through to leadership failures around improvements or sufficiently monitor and evaluate learning provision to governance that was woefully inadequate. This all added up to an environment where too many learners were not making sufficient progress.

The evidence indicates that lower grade providers tended to have less rigorous quality assurance measures in place.  It also shows that those organisations identified by Ofsted as needing to improve could also be employing senior management that might be failing to implement planned actions quickly enough.

It’s clear to those with executive responsibility across the FE learning experience, that the value of implementing robust self-assessment and improvement planning models, which are accurate, well structured, evidence rich and, ultimately, challenge staff to continuously improve, can only be positive. 

Carole Loader, Director, Mesma

Online improvement planning specialists MESMA was set-up in response to changes implemented by education watchdog Ofsted, which led to schools, colleges and independent providers receiving reduced notice of inspection. The company has produced a free QuickBook, which collates Ofsted key findings in an easy to read format and summary presentation of its analysis. 

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

The Environmental Impacts of Remote Work: Stats and Benefits: Working from home is a necessity rather than a luxury…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page