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Ofsted round-up – This week: Good grades for Marine Society College of the Sea

 Training Alternatives, Basingstoke

 

Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision Good: Grade 2

Capacity to improve Good: Grade 2

Achievement and standards Outstanding: Grade 1

Quality of provision Good: Grade 2

Leadership and management Good: Grade 2

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject area:

Business, administration and law Good: Grade 2

 

Founded in 1999, Training alternatives Limited (Training Alternatives) is a private limited company based in Basingstoke, Hampshire, and provides privately funded management training for businesses in Hampshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Training Alternatives provides training and assessment through a Train to Gain contract with Hampshire and Isle of White Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Government funded training is provided in customer service and management for national vocational qualifications (NVQs) at Level 2 and 3, and cleaning at Level 2.

The overall effectiveness of the provision is good with achievement and standards being outstanding. Ofsted has found that capacity to improve is good, although Training Alternatives has not been inspected previously, they have clearly taken appropriate actions to improve their provision. Self-assessment is good and the report was prepared by the two company directors and circulated to employers for comment.

Key strengths within Training Alternatives include their very high success rates, good training, coaching and learning, particularly effective goal-setting and action planning for learners, outstanding and productive relationships with employers, good personal support for learners and good leadership and management.

Achievement and standards were found to be outstanding with success rates being particularly high as recognised through self-assessment. In 2007/08, 14 out of 15 learners achieved their NVQ within the planned time. The overall success rate for 2007/08 is 100 per cent. Current learners are making good progress and the standard of work in portfolios is high. Learners were found to make useful and productive improvements to workplace procedures as part of their programme.

 

Medway Council, Gillingham

 

Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of 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 areas:

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Information and communication technology Satisfactory: Grade 3

Arts, media and publishing Satisfactory: Grade 3

Education and training Satisfactory: Grade 3

English for speakers of other languages Good: Grade 2

Community learning Satisfactory: Grade 3

 

Medway Council uses Medway Adult and Community Learning Service (MACLS) to deliver its adult community learning. MACLS operates from two main centres in Gillingham and Rochester, two local school-based evening centres and a range of community venues. It is located in the Learning and Achievement Division of its Children and Adults Directorate, and has 16 sector subjects from entry level through to Level 3 funded by Kent and Medway LSC. Qualification levels in Medway are lower than in the south east and nationally, and its average income is ten per cent below the national average. It is also the largest unitary authority in the south east, with minority ethnic groups making up to 5.4 per cent of the overall population and over ten per cent in some areas of Medway.

The effectiveness of Medway’s provision was satisfactory overall, and achievement and standards were rated as good, with success rates on accredited courses mostly high and improving. Ofsted said learners were able to develop good skills, but success rates on some GCSE courses were low, and Train to Gain programmes were slow to start. The quality of provision was judged satisfactory, and provision in ESOL was good, with ICT, art, media and publishing, education and training and community learning, provision deemed satisfactory.

Inspectors said Medway’s team of part-time tutors were appropriately experienced and qualified, and MACLS offers a range of staff training and professional development, however, some are poorly attended – helping its equality of opportunity to remain satisfactory. Ofsted also said the "observations of teaching and learning are insufficiently thorough and reliable. The grades awarded are often too generous and not sufficiently supported by evidence".

Overall, leadership and management were satisfactory, and inspectors reported a newly-appointed manager was satisfactorily managing all Train to Gain courses. Tutors regularly attended standardisation events and staff meetings, and management information was found to be readily available. However, during inspection week, 30 per cent of Train to Gain and education and training courses were not running.

 

Marine Society College of the Sea, London

 

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 area:

Community learning Good: Grade 2

 

Founded in 1756, the Marine Society’s purpose was to encourage recruitment to the Royal Navy. It later joined forces with the Sea Cadet Association to become The Marine Society and Sea Cadets in November 2004. The Marine Society College of the Sea (MSCoS) is an operating arm of the society, which is now the biggest maritime charity in the UK. The college, which accounts for roughly one quarter of the annual expenditure of the society, provides tuition and educational services to professional seafarers. Currently around 400 learners are enrolled on its courses, and two full-time staff manage the provision.

MSCoS received good grades across the board, and although many learners have complex working arrangements which restrict their ability to complete courses or study effectively, they make good progress and pass rates are high for external qualifications. The college has also improved quality assurance since the previous inspection, and teaching and learning was said to be increasingly monitored. Learners have good access to resources and materials for study, and are able to utilise impartial advice and guidance.

Examination pass rates were high for both Level 2 and 3 courses. From 2007/08 they increased to 95 per cent from 86 per cent at GCE Advanced level and from 82 per cent at GCSE level in 2006/07. Inspectors praised MSCoS for organising examinations flexibly at sea and ashore, and noted ten per cent of learners complete their courses and achieve their qualifications ahead of the planned duration of their course. Learners were also found to generally make good progress on their courses and progress well in their employment.

Leadership and management was rated as good, and Ofsted said: "Strategic objectives are clearly aligned with the aims of the trust and the needs of the maritime industry." MSCoS’s management style is open and effective, and inspectors found the college to be very responsive to learner and employer needs. However, the report states that although staff are totally committed and focused to learners’ needs, the limited staffing is stretched to capacity.

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