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Ofsted round-up – This week: Reports from Arcanum Solutions and Focus Training

Arcanum Solutions, Coventry

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:

Warehousing and distribution Satisfactory: Grade 3

Formerly P4 Consulting, Arcanum Solutions Limited is based in Coventry University’s Technocentre. It was awarded a Train to Gain contract in August 2007, having previously held and monitored European Regional Development Fund contracts. At inspection, Arcanum had one subcontractor, Fresh Logic, which is based in Bicester. The group delivered National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) training predominantly in warehousing and transportation to employees of its parent company, Fresh Direct, which specialises in the wholesale distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables. At the time of the inspection there were a total of 216 learners, of whom 74 were working towards a Level 2 NVQ qualification in driving goods vehicles, 127 working towards Level 2 qualifications in warehousing and storage and 15 working towards a qualification in plants operations.

Ofsted found the overall effectiveness of the provision to be satisfactory. Quality improvement arrangements, both for Arcanum itself and as applied to its subcontractors, are good. The management of subcontractors is good. Although it is too early to judge the full impact on the current subcontractor, performance data from other subject sector areas delivered by previous subcontractors was excellent. The self-assessment report was found to be accurate with grades identical to those awarded at inspection. Inspectors agreed with most of the strengths and areas for improvement identified through self-assessment; however, they judged the strengths claimed in the report referring specifically to the currently subcontracted provision to be only satisfactory. Key strengths include good management of subcontractors and particularly good quality improvement arrangements.

Historically Arcanum’s success rates are high. The overall success rate in 2007/08 was 99% and in 2008/09 it was 100%. Timely success rates in the same years were 76% and 83% respectively. These rates, however, are for other subcontractors no longer part of the consortium and are for subject sector areas other than the one inspected. None of the current subcontractors’ learners have yet completed. It is also too early to comment on the rate of learner progress towards achievement.


Focus Training, Lancashire


Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision Good: Grade 2

Capacity to improve Outstanding: Grade 1

Achievement and standards Good: Grade 2

Quality of provision Outstanding: Grade 1

Leadership and management Good: Grade 2

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Satisfactory: Grade 3

Sector subject area:

Sport, leisure and recreation Good: Grade 2

Focus Training Limited was established in 2000 as a private training company, limited by guarantee, to deliver training in sport, leisure and recreation to the health and fitness industry. Its main administrative centre is in Bolton, Lancashire, and it offers its distance-learning training courses to health and fitness instructors and personal trainers throughout Britain. Focus Training Limited receives Government funding from Greater Manchester LSC to provide Train to Gain programmes for 26 learners, and is subcontracted by Wigan and Leigh college to deliver Train to Gain for a further 99 learners. This is the first inspection of the provider’s government-funded provision.

Ofsted has reported that the overall effectiveness of the provision is good with success rates being high and all learners completing within their time-frame. Ofsted found that the programme meets employers’ and learners’ needs and interests outstandingly well and it has developed particularly good learning resources to make learning relevant and useful. Focus Training also has an outstanding capacity to improve with its self-assessment process being inclusive and the report identifying strengths accurately. The provider has already rectified the areas for improvement it had identified through self-assessment by the time of the inspection.

Focus Training has particularly effective quality improvements to support its provision. It has resolved problems existing in its first contract year when only 27% of learners achieved within the time-frame, and all learners of the programme this year have either completed or are on target to complete within their time-frame. Key strengths include high timely achievement rates, good teaching and learning, very effective strategies to meet learners’ needs and interests, particularly well-structured and extremely effective support for learning, very effective quality improvement arrangements and excellent employer engagement.

Natalie Hailes

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