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Ofsted round-up – This week: Inspectors visit councils across the UK

Slough Borough Council

 

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:

Preparation for life and work Good: Grade 2

 

Operating as Speedwell Enterprises, Slough Borough Council (SBC) started a sheltered placement scheme (SPS) in 1979. This is now a Workstep programme funded by the London and South East region of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The community and wellbeing department of the council has responsibility for the Workstep programme. Speedwell’s contract with DWP is to provide a Workstep programme for 40 people. Around 30 clients are currently employed in the workshop and seven participants are in external employment, three of whom work in the nursery.

The overall effectiveness of the provision was found to be good, with achievements and standards and leadership and management all being good also. Ofsted has found that Speedwell demonstrates that it has good capacity to improve. The first report in 2004 reported that the provision was unsatisfactory, 2006 showed that is was satisfactory and in 2009 Speedwell has been given a good grade, showing improvement. In the last two years there have been a wide range of improvements and new initiatives at Speedwell and these improvement are now helping participants into unsupported employment.

The formal self-assessment process was found to be satisfactory with the unit manager writing the self-assessment report, using an appropriate range of data and some input from participants and staff. The current style of report rightly attempts to be more judgmental than descriptive which leads to an appropriate quality improvement plan which is helping to improve the provision. Key strengths within Speedwell include, particularly good social and personal development, good training and development, good use of work placements, good teamwork to support participants, very constructive support from SBC to ensure the success and development of the Workstep programme, inclusive leadership to bring about the quality improvement, very good promotion and application of the principles of equality of opportunity and safeguarding vulnerable adults.

Achievements and standards are good, with participants in the workshops improving their social and personal skills. Staff help to create this atmosphere of mutual support and development, which has a positive effect on the development of participants’ social skills, communication and self-confidence. Ofsted has found that progression to unsupported employment is still insufficient, as identified through self-assessment. Using the DWP measure, speedwell has a progression rate of around 6%.

 

Staffordshire County Council

 

Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision Satisfactory: Grade 3

Capacity to improve Satisfactory: Grade 3

Achievement and standards Satisfactory: Grade 3

Quality of provision Satisfactory: Grade 3

Leadership and management Satisfactory: Grade 3

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject areas:

Information and communication technology Satisfactory: Grade 3

Education and training Inadequate: Grade 4

Preparation for life and work Good: Grade 2

Family learning Satisfactory: Grade 3

 

Staffordshire County Council contracts with Staffordshire LSC to provide learning opportunities in adult and community learning, work-based learning and Train to Gain. The Adult and Community Learning (ACL) service had just over 15,000 part-time learners in 2007/08 and is part of the Culture and Lifelong Learning division within the Council’s Children and Lifelong Learning directorate. From 2006/08, the Council was the lead contract holder for a Train to Gain consortium across Staffordshire providing National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) at levels 2 and 3 for teaching assistants.

The Council has demonstrated a satisfactory capacity to improve and since the last inspection in March 2005, the ACL service has maintained its strong focus on securing improvements in its programmes. Strategic planning continues to be effective and the provision remains carefully targeted to widen participation. Although many of the previous weaknesses identified have been rectified, progress in providing adequate arrangements for literacy, numeracy and language support and in ensuring that learners’ progress and achievement is appropriately measured and recorded on non-accredited provision.

The Council’s self-assessment processes are satisfactory and sufficiently consultative and inclusive in adult and community learning and work-based learning. The ACL service’s self-assessment report of December 2008 is comprehensive, broadly accurate and includes a detailed action plan to secure further improvements. Key strengths within the council include good development of personal, social and employment skills, good strategic planning, very effective partnership working in adult and community learning to widen participation, highly effective employer support in the schools in work-based learning.

Achievement and standards are satisfactory overall with learners developing good personal, practical and employment skills. Framework completion for advanced apprenticeships for teaching assistants was poor in 2005/07, with none of the 16 apprentices completing the apprenticeship framework. However by 2008/09 15 of these have successfully completed an NVQ. Ofsted has found that success rates of the Train to Gain subcontracted provision are low, with too many learners making slow progress.

 

Dorset County Council

 

Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision Satisfactory: Grade 3

Capacity to improve Good: Grade 2

Achievement and standards Satisfactory: Grade 3

Quality of provision Satisfactory: Grade 3

Leadership and management Satisfactory: Grade 3

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject area:

Sport, leisure and recreation Satisfactory: Grade 3

Languages, literature and culture Good: Grade 2

Literacy, numeracy and ESOL Good: Grade 2

Business, administration and law Good: Grade 2

 

Dorset County Council holds contracts with Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole Learning and Skills Council (LSC) for adult and community learning (ACL), Train to Gain and work-based learning. DCC’s mission is to work across Dorset with individuals, employers and communities to provide good quality teaching and learning, improve skills and knowledge and meet personal development needs. During 2007/08, DAL ran 779 courses in 14 sector subject areas with 7,872 enrolments in 137 venues.

The overall effectiveness of the provision was found to be satisfactory with achievements and standards being satisfactory in ACL and Train to Gain and good in work-based learning. DCC demonstrates good capacity to improve, since the previous inspection, DAL has restructured from a geographical to a curriculum-based management structure. The capacity to improve work-based learning is good, with clear plans to develop the provision further and two new members of staff supporting the expansion of the provision.

The self-assessment process was found to be satisfactory and is comprehensive, largely accurate and identifies most key strengths and areas for improvement. Inspectors consider the process good in three of the sector subject areas inspected, however, course reviews often lack detail and are insufficiently critical. Inspectors generally agree with self-assessed grades in the areas inspected. Key strengths include, good standard of learners’ work. Good work-based learning provision, good progress in extending provision, clear strategic direction, highly effective financial management, strong partnership work.

Achievement and standards are satisfactory in ACL and Train to Gain as identified at self-assessment. Learners produce good standards of work in both accredited and non-accredited provision, as identified in the sector subject area reports. The particularly high standards of work in arts, media and publishing include exquisite examples of beadwork. Provisional data for 2007/08 indicates that overall success rates for long courses at Level 2 and below are at or about national levels for GFE colleges.

Natalie Hailes

 

 

 

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