From education to employment

Ofsted round-up – This week: Polarised results for providers

Brenikov Associates Ltd, Newcastle Upon Ttyne


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: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject area:

Retail and commercial enterprise Good: Grade 2


A private training provider based in Newcastle-upon-tyne, Brenikov Associates Limited (BAL) is a team of nine assessors/tutors that work with learners on employer premises across the region. BAL contracts with Tyne and Wear LSC for the provision of Train to Gain and apprenticeship programmes since 2007. Government funding accounts for 86% of BAL’s business and this is the first inspection the company has received. Currently 107 learners are following an apprenticeship programme with 42 studying for an advanced apprenticeship qualification.

Ofsted has found that BAL has a good capacity to improve since Train to Gain success rates have improved steadily during the last two years. The inspection reveals that BAL takes good actions to improve quality and that they use their accurate observation of teaching and learning process to improve individual performance and to identify good practice.

BAL’s self-assessment process is good and accurately identified most of the strengths but not all of the areas for improvement in leadership and management. New staff have been appointed and accommodation, teaching and learning resources have been invested in to meet the needs of a steadily expending contract. Ofsted has found that BAL does not make sufficient use of data to set company-wide targets or to plan the development of its training programmes. Key strengths include good progress for all learners, high success rates for Train to Gain learners, good and well planned teaching and learning, highly flexible response to learners’ and employers’ needs, particularly effective team working, clear focus on the development of the hospitality sector, good partnerships and good actions to improve provision.

Achievements and standards are good, with all learners making good progress. Success rates on the British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body (BIIAB) personal licence course are good at 97%. Learners on apprenticeship programmes have not yet completed their planned period of study and data on success rates is not yet available. However, most are ahead of their targets.


Safe and Sound Training Limited, Frome


Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision Inadequate: Grade 4

Capacity to improve Inadequate: Grade 4

Achievement and standards Inadequate: Grade 4

Quality of provision Inadequate: Grade 4

Leadership and management Inadequate: Grade 4

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Inadequate: Grade 4

Sector subject areas:

Sport, leisure and recreation Inadequate: Grade 4

Business, administration and law Satisfactory: Grade 3


Safe and Sound Training Limited is a private company that operates throughout the South of England and West Midlands and is part of a group of companies whose main business is providing a range of security and safety services to external customers. At the time of the inspection, Safe and Sound had 219 Train to Gain learners all based in the workplace. Safe and Sound holds a Train to Gain contract with Wiltshire and Swindon Local areas LSC.

Ofsted found the overall effectiveness of Safe and Sound to be inadequate, as is the overall quality of the provision. Employers’ needs are met very well through the programme and the additional services provided by the group, however, arrangements for advice and guidance are gradually being implemented, but are not always sufficiently impartial or recorded.

Although considerable investment has been made in improving the quality of the assessment team, Safe and Sound’s capacity to improve is inadequate. The training manager has introduced systems and quality improvement processes, but these are not yet having sufficient impact as the shortage of internal verifiers is currently restricting the training manager’s capacity to effect improvement.

The self-assessment process is inadequate and insufficiently self-critical. The process is led by the training manager, does not include the views of assessors and some of the judgements are not even based on sufficient evidence or reliable data. Although Ofsted found that some strengths and areas for improvement were accurately identified, the process missed significant areas for improvement that impact on learners. Key strengths within Safe and Sound include good development of stewarding skills by spectator safety learners and good collaborative work with employers.

Although business administration overall success rates are hgh with all seven leavers having achieved, on all other programmes, overall success rates are low. They improved in 2007/08 to 23% from a very low rate of 6% in 2006/07. Overall success rates are very low for spectator safety learners and show insufficient improvement at 7% in 2007/08. No safety learner has achieved within their agreed timescale for the last two years.


Working Links, London


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 area:

Preparation for life and work Satisfactory: Grade 3


Working Links is a national public-private partnership that specialises in the delivery of Welfare to Work employability programmes. It contracts with the North East LSC to provide Employability Skills programmes throughout the North East. Working Links offers qualifications at entry level to level 1 and 2 in literacy, numeracy, English for speakers of other languages and the Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN) employability award.

Ofsted has found that the overall effectiveness of the provision is satisfactory with learners developing good personal and employability skills and the standard of portfolio work is good. Working Links has demonstrated satisfactory capacity to improve with senior staff managing change well and have, in a short space of time, implemented a number of key improvements to the programme. Early signs are that this is starting to have a positive impact on learners’ experiences.

The self-assessment process is relatively new, with the self-assessment report provided being the provider’s first report. It has included the views of learners and staff, but not those of employers and other stakeholders. The grades awarded by inspectors matched those of Working Links for all aspects of the common inspection framework and identified the same strengths identified by inspectors, but failed to identify some key areas for improvement. Key strengths include good development of personal and employability skills, particularly good support for learners, good staff understanding of strategic aims and values, good management of change, good staff development and training and good use of learning champions to engage hard to reach learners.

Achievements and standards are satisfactory with learners developing good personal and employability skills. Learners gain sufficient confidence to enable them to clarity their employment goals. Success rates are satisfactory and have risen from 42% in 2007/08 to 59% in 2008/09 with many learners progressing towards higher level qualifications in literacy and numeracy.

Natalie Hailes

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