From education to employment

Ofsted round-up: This week: BHS shows significant promise

BHS Limited, London

Summary of Grades awarded:

Effectiveness of Provision: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Capacity to improve: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Achievements and standards: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Quality of provision: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Leadership and management: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Equality of opportunity: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject area:

Retain and commercial enterprise: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Established in 1928, British Home Stores (BHS) became a limited company in 1931. Offering a wide range of home furnishings and clothing, the company has head offices in London and operates mainly within the UK, however some BHS stores overseas operate under the same licence. In 2007 BHS started to deliver training funded by The National Employer Service (NES) of the learning and skills council. At the time of the inspection there were 177 retail and wholesaling apprentices and 107 learners were enrolled on a Train to Gain retailing programme.

BHS have been slow to implement procedures to improve the quality of provision, however a newly developed quality improvement plan is both comprehensive and realistic. Inspectors agreed with many of the judgements and findings made in the self-assessment report (SAR), which clearly focuses on learners’ experience. Good development of confidence and workplace skills, good support for learners from store staff and good strategic management were amongst the list of key strengths.

Achievements and standards are good for Train to Gain with the report finding that learners enjoy their training and develop good skills and knowledge of retail, it also finds that learners are quickly becoming confident at communicating with customers and colleagues. The Train to Gain success rate is high at 86%. Although it is too early to make a judgement on apprenticeship success rates, as the programme only started in September 2007, timely success rates appear low at 50%.

The report found that support for accredited learning through apprenticeships and Train to Gain has a high priority in BHS’ overall strategic planning. Within human resources operating plan, BHS’ learning and development strategy forms an integral part. Accredited learning was effectively introduced as a pilot programme for the year 2007/08 and is using the outcomes to develop the provision further across other occupational areas within the UK. With ambitious plans to raise the total number of learners within the pilot from 400 to 1000 by next year, the report has found that BHS staff have a high level of enthusiasm and a genuine commitment to training.

Parenta Training LTD, Kent

Summary of Grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Achievement and standards: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Quality of provision: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Equality of opportunity: Contributory Grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject area:

Early years and playwork: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Parenta Training LTD (Parenta) is part of the Parenta Group, was established in 2007 and specialises in providing training for the childcare sector. This is the first Ofsted inspection to be carried out on the company. A total of 17 apprentices and seven advanced apprentices are following the programmes in childcare, learning and development. Train to Gain learners are based in locations throughout the country, and the advanced apprentices work in locally based childcare settings, with most studying for the NVQ through distance learning.

Following a management reorganisation six months ago, Parenta has demonstrated that it has satisfactory capacity to improve with changes being made to the company’s systems and operational management. Positive action has been taken in those areas identified for improvement and, although some learners still take too long to achieve the qualification, a noticeable level of improvement has been made in learners progress. Parenta’s inspection grades matched those in the self-assessment report.

Key strengths within Parenta’s work based learning scheme included good development of personal and vocational skills, good teaching and learning for apprentices, clear strategic direction and good management of change. However, areas could be improved relating to the low proportion of learners of apprenticeship programmes complete within the planned period of study, insufficiently established arrangements for quality improvement, insufficient analysis and use of management information and the weak promotion of equality and diversity.

Arrangements to improve the quality of the provision are insufficiently established, a system for observing teaching and learning has been developed, however observation reports are not always sufficiently thorough and do not focus clearly enough on learning. The company does not yet have sufficient information about the quality of teaching and learning sessions to enable it to analyse trends in performance.

TADS Training, Wiltshire

Summary of grades awarded

Effectiveness provision: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Capacity to improve: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Achievement and standards: Good: Grade 2

Quality of provision: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Leadership and management: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Equality of opportunity: Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject area:

Business, administration and law: Satisfactory:
Grade 3

Situated on the outskirts of Devizes in Wiltshire, TADS Training Ltd is a private training provider established in 2002. The company delivers training in business, administration and law. In 2006 the company was awarded a contract by Gloucester and Wiltshire LSC to provide Train to Gain programmes in business administration, customer service and team leading. The manager of TADS has recently taken on the role of marketing manager and is responsible for the business. There are four trainers who are able to deliver on-the-job training, of which two are qualified assessors and the other two are working towards an assessor qualification.

Despite late recruitment in 2007/2008, success rates during the first year of the contract were good. Within the report it is recognised that TADS has been quick to take action to deal with a recent significant change in the senior management team. The current self-assessment report is the second report which TADS has produced, Ofsted recognises that the self-assessment process is satisfactory and that feedback from learners and employers is considered.

Key strengths within the company are first of all, good success rates in 2006/07, TADS offers good development of personal and workplace skills and once again the recognition for the way management change was handled. However the initial assessment was insufficiently thorough, and there was insufficient use of management information.

Overall success rates in 2006/07 were good at 74% with all learners completing within the planned period of study. Progress of current learners is good, however it is not possible to make a judgement about the success rate of 2007/08 due to most learners being recruited towards the end of the year and not yet having completed their planned period of study.

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