From education to employment

A New Era for Ofsted: What Training Providers Should Expect


OneFile recently had the privilege of hosting Helen Cuthbert, Policy and Strategy Manager at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), for an in-depth update on recent changes within Ofsted at their latest conference. As a leading authority in the field, AELP’s insights are invaluable to the community of training providers, making Helen’s participation a significant highlight of the event.

A Fresh Start for Ofsted

After a challenging year, Ofsted has embarked on a reset approach under its new Chief Inspector, Martyn Oliver, who began his role on January 1st. Although his background is in schools, he is eager to learn about Further Education (FE) and the skills sector. To facilitate this, the AELP are organising a tour for him around various training providers in North Yorkshire. Their goal is to give Martyn a hands-on understanding of the apprenticeships and training programs that many manage.

New Inspection Protocols

One notable change is the introduction of a senior inspector call the day after an inspection. This allows providers to address any concerns promptly. Additionally, Ofsted has revised the post-reporting and complaints process. Providers can now choose between a factual accuracy check or a direct written complaint, streamlining the process and ensuring complaints go straight to an independent adjudicator after the second step.

Flexibility and Fairness

Ofsted has also introduced the possibility of pausing inspections in certain extreme circumstances, recognising that sometimes, continuing an inspection is simply not appropriate. Although not yet implemented for FE and skills, there will soon be sub-judgments available on the main inspection page, providing a more detailed insight into the performance of providers.

Consistency in Grading

 As of April, inspection outcomes have remained consistent, with the percentage of good, outstanding, requires improvement, and inadequate ratings staying stable despite an increase in inspections.

The Big Listen Initiative

Running from March to May, ‘The Big Listen’ is part of Ofsted’s efforts to gather feedback from the sector to improve their processes and rebuild trust. AELP is participating on behalf of its members, focusing on issues such as the gap between good and requires improvement, inspection consistency, and notification periods. They’re also pushing for inspection reports to include only those activities directly funded by the Department for Education or combined authorities.

Moving Forward

AELP’s aim is to ensure that inspections are fair, consistent, and supportive of providers and will continue to advocate for changes that help achieve this goal.

Check out the full video below:

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