From education to employment

Ofsted round-up – This week: Care UK joins a mix of inspection reports

The Royal Navy Service, Portsmouth


Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision Good: Grade 2

Capacity to improve Good: Grade 2

Achievement and standards Good: Grade 2

Quality of provision Good: Grade 2

Leadership and management Good: Grade 2

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Good: Grade 2

Sector subject areas:

Health, public services and care Good: Grade 2

Engineering and manufacturing technologies Outstanding: Grade 1

Information and communication technology Satisfactory: Grade 3

Hospitality and catering Good: Grade 2


Since September 1996, The Royal Navy has delivered National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). In 2006, the contract moved to the National Employment Service rather than with individual LSCs. LSC finding is less than 5% of the Royal Naval Service’s (RNS) total training budget. All ratings and marines that apprenticeship training and currently a total of 2,135 apprentices are on apprenticeship programmes. The programmes provide civilian accreditation and prepare personnel to progress to higher level qualifications.

The overall effectiveness of the RNS is good with most apprentices now making very good progress towards achieving standards well above those expected for the apprenticeship programmes. Apprentices are given good opportunities to gain workplace skills, civilian qualifications and very good communication and interpersonal skills. Ofsted has found that overall, teaching, coaching, instruction and learning are good with the range of activities and programmes meeting the needs of both apprentices and the operations of the RNS.

Capacity to improve is good and since taking over the provision from the individual LSC contracts, RNS has effectively consolidated and managed the areas for improvement across the training establishments. The thoroughness and accuracy of the self-assessment process is satisfactory and grades awarded at inspection closely match those in the self-assessment report. However, the report appears to be more of a briefing document rather than an analysis of performance. Key strengths include, outstanding provision in engineering, very good development of good quality vocational skills, outstanding resources, particularly good pastoral and welfare support through the Divisional system, very well managed training programmes, good personal development for staff and apprentices and good actions to improve the quality of provision.

Achievement and standards are good with overall success rates being good and improving as identified in the self-assessment report. The proportion of apprentices completing their programme within the planned period is improving. Key skills’ achievements are good on all programmes.


Above Bar College, Southampton


Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision Satisfactory: Grade 3

Capacity to improve Satisfactory: Grade3

Achievement and standards Satisfactory: Grade 3

Quality of provision Good: Grade 2

Leadership and management Satisfactory: Grade 3

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject area:

Hairdressing Good: Grade 2


Above Bar College is a privately owned limited company with a board of directors, situated in the centre of Southampton. The college adopted its present name in October 2006 to coincide with becoming a mainstream provider of apprenticeship programmes in hairdressing for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Formally known as Inter Hair College, the college has provided training in hairdressing for over 15 years. The college has 278 LSC-funded learners.

Ofsted has found that the overall effectiveness of Above Bar College is satisfactory. Above Bar College’s capacity to improve is satisfactory with overall arrangements for quality improvement being satisfactory and incorporated into the college’s quality management system (QMS) and monitored through the managers’ quality group. Management information systems (MIS) are not used routinely to provide information to managers and teaching staff on learners’ progress and college performance. The present system does not fully support quality improvement and strategic planning.

Arrangements for self-assessment are satisfactory with college staff contributing meaningfully to the self-assessment report. Learners’ views influence judgements, although employers are not well involved. The self-assessment report is evaluative and accurate in its judgements and grades within the report concur with those of inspectors. Key strengths include good overall success rates, good development of learners’ practical skills, good quality teaching and learning, good support for individual learners, strong operational management and productive partnerships with employers.

Achievement and standards are satisfactory, a judgement supported in the self-assessment report. Overall success rates for advanced apprenticeship and apprenticeship frameworks are good. The overall success rate for advanced apprenticeships in 2006/07 and in 2007/08 was 80%, higher than the national rates of 58% and 63% for the corresponding years. The overall success rate for apprenticeship programmes in 2006/07 was 92% compared with the national rate of 61%. Learner numbers doubled during 2007/08, when overall success rates fell to 76%, but still remained above the national average of 67%.


Care UK PLC, Colchester


Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision Inadequate: Grade 4

Capacity to improve Satisfactory: Grade 3

Achievement and standards Inadequate: Grade 4

Quality of provision Satisfactory: Grade 3

Leadership and management Inadequate: Grade 4

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject areas:

Health and social care Inadequate: Grade 4

Literacy and numeracy Satisfactory: Grade 3


CARE UK PLC (CARE UK) is a leading independent provider of health and social care services working in close partnership with local authorities and primary care trusts. The company gained its first funding contract with the LSC in 2006, receiving funding from the National Employer Service (NES) for national vocational qualifications (NVQ) at level 2 in health and social care and Skills for Life programmes in literacy and numeracy. During the inspection, 695 learners were on programmes.

The overall effectiveness of the provision is inadequate. Learners of health, public services and care programmes develop good care skills and many learners’ on the Skills for Life programmes develop in confidence. CARE UK has demonstrated satisfactory capacity to improve and the provider has made significant recent improvements to the monitoring and supervision of the subcontractor. The newly appointed group workforce development manager and divisional learning development managers have direct responsibility for the NVQ care and Skills for Life programmes. All success rates show early signs of significant improvement for the first four months of the current contract year.

Achievement and standards are inadequate, however, learners on health, public services and care programme develop good care skills at work. The development of learners’ literacy and numeracy skills is satisfactory with many learners on the Skills for Life programmes developing in confidence. In 2007/08, success rates were high on the Skills for Life literacy programme at 83%. This strength is not recognised in the self-assessment report. In year success rates have risen to 88% for 2008/09.

Natalie Hailes


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