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Posted on 29/03/2018 in Apprenticeship Sector News Stories

Ofsted: First monitoring visit into subcontracted provision


Ofsted: First monitoring visit into subcontracted provision

Monitoring visit: Wigan and Leigh College Monitoring visit report – subcontracted provision

main findings

Context and focus of visit On 6 February 2018, Ofsted’s deputy director for further education and skills informed providers that Ofsted would increase its focus and reporting on the quality of subcontracted provision. The letter stated that Ofsted would carry out a series of monitoring visits to a sample of providers. 

Three inspectors carried out this monitoring visit to review the management and quality of subcontracted provision. Wigan and Leigh College currently subcontracts around a third of its apprenticeship provision to Citrus Training Solutions Limited, which accounts for over 500 apprentices, mainly in business management and administration. In addition, a very small contract for pharmacy-based apprenticeship provision is in place with I & F Limited. This contract will come to an end very shortly when the one remaining apprentice completes the programme.

The college subcontracts a proportion of its education and training provision to five local community-based partner organisations: Groundwork Cheshire, Lancashire,Merseyside (Groundwork), Power in Partnership, Progress Sports Limited, The Skills Network and Wigan Council. This provision accounted for around 18% of all qualifications taken on study programmes and adult learning programmes in2016/17. Approximately 200 learners were enrolled on subcontracted education and raining programmes at the time of the visit.

 Themes

Are leaders and managers managing subcontracted provision effectively?                                                  

 Insufficient progress


The actions of governors and senior leaders to improve the performance of subcontractors have not been rapid enough. The proportion of apprentices on subcontracted provision who achieve their qualifications is too low and has fallen over the last three years. In 2016/17, only just over half of apprentices at Citrus Training Solutions Limited completed their programmes successfully. Most learners on subcontracted community-based education and training programmes make good progress in developing their personal, social and work-related skills. However, the proportion who achieved their qualifications in 2016/17 was lower overall than those on the college’s directly delivered provision and was too low at Progress Sports Limited and Power in Partnership.

Quality assurance arrangements for Citrus Training Solutions Limited have had too little impact for too long. Until recently, arrangements relied too much on college managers ensuring compliance with quality assurance processes at the expense of evaluating with rigour the quality of teaching, learning and assessment. Very recent changes have resulted in an improved approach to the quality assurance of the apprenticeship provision, with a stronger focus on working collaboratively with Citrus Training Solutions Limited to identify and implement improvement actions. Although these actions have resulted in early signs of improvement, the quality of subcontracted apprenticeship provision at Citrus Training Solutions Limited is not yet high enough.

Arrangements for assuring the quality of subcontracted community-based provision delivered by Groundwork, Power in Partnership, Progress Sports Limited, The Skills Network and Wigan Council lack sufficient rigour. The quality of information that college managers receive from these subcontractors about the effectiveness of provision and learners’ achievements varies significantly and, in a few instances, is insufficient and inaccurate. College managers do not challenge these community based subcontractors well enough to improve their reporting on outcomes for learners and the quality of provision; nor do they check quickly enough that agreed actions have been implemented, including, for example, after-lesson observations.

Governors and senior leaders have started recently to focus much more closely on subcontractors’ performance and have made recent appointments to enhance their capacity to manage subcontractors. They recognise weaknesses in subcontracting in their self-assessment, and identify accurately the need to improve achievement rates. Recent actions have resulted in a few early signs of improvement, such as better retention in the current year. However, it is still too early to measure the impact of these actions on increasing the proportion of apprentices and learners who complete their programmes successfully.

Senior leaders have established a clear strategy to reduce the volume of subcontracted provision and to align it more closely to the needs of learners and the local community. Their strategy is to cease subcontracting apprenticeship provision and work only with community-based partners to meet the learning needs of disadvantaged young people and adults in the borough. Senior leaders have informed Citrus Training Solutions Limited that they will no longer contract with them once the apprentices currently on programme complete, and managers at the subcontractor have ceased recruiting new apprentices to this provision.

Are leaders and managers ensuring that learnersand apprentices in subcontracted provisio benefit from high-quality training and educationthat lead to good or better outcomes? Reasonable progress

Are leaders and managers ensuring that safeguarding arrangements in subcontracted provision are effective? Reasonable progress

Read the full report on visit here 


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