Carole Loader, Director, Mesma

Analysis of Ofsted’s early monitoring visits to employers, independent training providers and universities by online quality assurance specialist Mesma has revealed some positive impacts. 

The news comes as Ofsted says that the levy has contributed to a huge increase in the number of providers delivering apprenticeships, doubling the numbers of independent learning providers and employer providers.

However, while Ofsted also declares in its annual report ‘that some of the biggest providers continue to provide real cause for concern’, Mesma’s analysis of providers making progress has thrown up some common themes.

Leaders can be seen as heading in the right direction, meeting the requirements of successful apprenticeships provision on the back of reports of a clear vision and well considered strategy.

High standards of training and resources, sound governance, and strong analytical and self-critical self-assessment are also contributing to significant progress.

Progress in ensuring that apprentices benefit from high quality training, which delivers positive outcomes was shown by staff having relevant industry knowledge, confirmation of early assessments and well-organised teaching. 

Reports that senior leaders are closely monitoring apprentices’ progress and that apprentices are clear about their career options, also indicate significant progress is being achieved.

Advancement has also been achieved by leaders and managers in securing effective safeguarding arrangements on the back of reports about highly effective policies and procedures being in place that are understood by all. 

Clear reporting procedures, effective safe recruitment practices, comprehensive risk assessments and a generally feeling that apprentices feel safe, were all evidenced in Ofsted’s reports, according to Mesma.

Mesma has extracted the key information from content sourced from the public reports published on the Ofsted website, which covers more than 86 providers whose reports were published by inspectors between March - October 2018. 

Early monitoring is a new strand of Ofsted activity, helping to confirm if the hundreds of new large and small apprenticeship providers are on track with delivery of their learning and training strategies.

We can see reasonable and significant progress being made from analysis of the reports, but the data includes those providers new to the register, who have previously been delivering under sub-contract arrangements.

It would be a clearer picture if Ofsted were able to segment this data so that we could see who is ‘new to the sector’ as opposed to new as a ‘direct contract holder’.

Carole Loader, Director, Mesma

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