From education to employment

Ofsted round-up – This week: Two English councils receive very different reports

Worcester College of Technology, Worcester


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:

Health, public services and care Satisfactory: Grade 3

Retail and commercial enterprise Satisfactory: Grade 3

Business, administration and law Satisfactory: Grade 3


Worcester College of Technology established the Three Counties Consortium (TCC) to provide Train to Gain programmes in 2007. The consortium members are training providers operating, but not necessarily based, in the three counties of Herefordshire Worcestershire and Shropshire. The providers include, among others, general further education colleges, private training providers and local authorities. Worcester College of Technology is the lead provider and main contract holder for the Train to Gain contract.

Ofsted has found that the overall effectiveness of provision is satisfactory with achievements and standards being satisfactory also. TCC demonstrated a satisfactory capacity to improve, which disagrees with the self-assessment report, which judged capacity to improve to be good. Ofsted found that the college has a good record of improvement and contributes a high level of management expertise which has ensured the development and maintenance of an efficient consortium supported by strong partnerships with the subcontractors and other stakeholders.

TCC has a strategy for improvement which is underdeveloped and yet to have any significant impact on performance overall, consortium members or the learners’ experience. Ofsted has found that quality assurance arrangements are underdeveloped for the consortium. Although self-assessment is satisfactory overall some aspects are underdeveloped as the current process is not fully inclusive of the consortium members and relies too much of reports which in some cases do not adequately assess the Train to Gain provision. Key strengths include god development of workplace and personal skills, particularly responsive programme to meet the needs of employers and particularly effective consortium management.

Achievements and standards are satisfactory which agrees with the self-assessment report. In 2007/08 the overall success rate for the consortium was satisfactory. Success rates in education and training are high and in construction, engineering and education and training they are higher than the overall success rate for the consortium.


Essex County Council, Essex


Summary of grades awarded:

Effectiveness of provision Outstanding: Grade 1

Capacity to improve Outstanding: Grade 1

Achievement and standards Good: Grade 2

Quality of provision Good: Grade 2

Leadership and management Outstanding: Grade 1

Equality of opportunity Contributory grade: Outstanding: Grade 1

Sector subject areas:

Health, public services and care Outstanding: Grade 1

Information and communication technology Good: Grade 2

Arts, media and publishing Outstanding: Grade 1

Languages, literature and culture Good: Grade 2

Education and training Good: Grade 2

Literacy, numeracy and language Outstanding: Grade 1

Independent living and leisure skills Outstanding: Grade 1

Business, administration and law Good: Grade 2

Family learning Outstanding: Grade 1

Community development Good: Grade 2


Essex County Council provides adult and community learning, work-based learning for young people and Train to Gain programmes across its 12 district councils. It is also part of the APEX training consortium for the delivery of some of its work-based learning. The adult and community learning service is located in the Council’s adults, health and community wellbeing directorate with libraries and adult social care. Work-based learning for young people is part of the council’s learning and development service within the human resource and customer excellence directorate and both departments deliver Train to Gain programmes. The Essex LSC funds the provision and ECC has additional funding to deliver neighbourhood learning in deprived communities (NLDC) and a next step contract to provide information, advice and guidance.

The overall effectiveness of the provider is outstanding with over two-thirds of the provision being outstanding. The quality of the provision was found to be good with teaching and learning both also being good. Lessons were found to be lively and interesting, engaging their learners well. Ofsted has found that the service has demonstrated that its capacity to improve is outstanding. Senior managers have taken successful actions to steer the service, one of the largest adult and community learning providers in England, towards excellence. Inspection grades have improved, for example from satisfactory to outstanding in health, care and public services, and arts, media and publishing. The quality of teaching and learning is good overall and often outstanding. Most of the weaknesses found n previous inspections have been successfully resolved.

The self-assessment process was found to be thorough and demonstrated a clear understanding of the service’s key strengths and areas for improvement. All staff contribute to the process. Managers take the views of stakeholders into account. Ofsted found that the self-assessment report is too critical in its judgements about leadership and management and in three of the sector subject areas. Key strengths include, high success rates on work-based learning programmes, high achievement rates for learners on non-accredited courses, particularly good success rates for different groups of learners, good teaching and learning, high responsive provision, particularly productive partnerships, very good support for work based learners, outstanding strategic leadership, excellent arrangements to improve the quality of provision and outstanding quality of opportunity arrangements.

Achievement and standards are good with outstanding features. Success rates on apprenticeship and Train to Gain programmes are high. Success rates are particularly high for skills for life Train to Gain learners at 93%. Success rates on short courses have improved over the last year and are now good. Achievement rates for learners on non-accredited courses are high and in 2007/08 were 90%. Learners on many courses produce a good standard of work and attain good personal, social, employability and enterprise skills. They gain confidence and increase their self-esteem. ECC celebrates learners’ success well.

Natalie Hailes



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