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Posted By WYLP on 07/02/2019 in Apprenticeship Sector News Stories

WYLP - Provider Insider

WYLP - Provider Insider

WYLP Provider Insider Jan 19 edition brings you an interview with one of our support service clients & network members, Halifax Opportunities Trust on their recent Ofsted monitoring visit experiences.  

If you are a new apprenticeship provider awaiting your first Ofsted visit, or just interested in hearing experiences of Ofsted interventions, we hope this blog post will bring you some helpful information. 

  • Can you explain your Ofsted Monitoring Visit experience in 3 words?

(Initially) petrifying

Reassuring

Proud 

  • Have you been through inspection before? How did this differ 

Yes, but only as part of a sub-contract. We based the inspection on the WYLP model and soaked up all the training & information we had been provided so although we had more responsibility on this one we didn’t approach it any differently in terms of priority or importance. All inspections mean the same to us as it is a measure of our effectiveness as a training organisation, but this monitoring visit we had to think more about quality interventions and leadership & management as well as teaching, which is different to previous inspections just as a subcontractor.  WYLP helped us prepare for the inspection and we would not have received the same positive feedback and response without that support – and as well as us delivering on the day!  

  • How did it feel being nominee – do you feel you were prepared?

It was definitely an experience being the nominee, but it went well, and the process could not have been more positive. I knew it was going to be me who was the nominee prior to the visit and had received support from WYLP on preparing for this, so I felt I was ready for the inspection.  I had good support from other colleagues across the Organisation, including CEO, SMT and delivery staff and had previously spoken to them about Ofsted and what would be required and what information and evidence we should showcase.  Ofsted contacted the CEO before anyone else and they completed the initial phone call.  I think every provider says they would have liked a little bit longer to prepare internally but because I had been on all relevant training that was offered from WYLP this helped me respond and prepare for the visit.

Our monitoring visit was a really positive experience, but I am very aware it is just the beginning of a journey and I need to keep standards high whilst growing the provision, ensure all staff are up to date on inspection requirements and keep the Governance Board up to date.

  • What did you prepare pre-visit, did the inspectors ask for any info?

We had a pre-visit initial phone call with the CEO and then a follow up phone call with more detail on the visit and expectations with CEO & a member of the SMT.   They asked us to send over prior to the visit the information on our provision, learner breakdown, programme levels etc. We used the Ofsted portal to submit this and there was a lot of supportive dialogue between myself as Nominee and the inspector. I called all colleagues in for a meeting to inform them of the inspection and we collectively prepared the evidence and meeting rooms to be used during the visit.  We made sure we pulled all documents we needed out and gave them an internal check-up, these included learner files, quality documents, apprentices work, learning logs and off the job activities and learner / employer evaluations. It was then decided who would take ownership on certain aspects during the inspection visit to best showcase and have professional dialogue about our provision, learners and organisational ethos. 

  • Did you inform employers / learners?

Yes, we informed learners and employers about the monitoring visit. We produced a list of employers and learners for inspectors to contact.  Many of our employers had been through inspection before when we were subcontracting so they were aware of the process and delivering in nursery and school settings helps with Ofsted awareness. 

  • What was the feeling / atmosphere of the visit?

Very reassuring, calm and positive. It was overall a good experience all round. We were given opportunity to explain what we were doing and how it was being done.  There was a lot of professional dialogue between us and the inspectors, as well as plenty of observations to see our teaching in practice and to speak to learners and employers. Inspectors felt they could see the ethos and nature of our approach across all aspects of the provision and could see the values we believed in.  They said it all sat beautifully with what the organisation was set up for. 

  • What were the key questions / focus they concentrated on?

They were very keen on quality of teaching interventions and the impact and initial assessment. They loved the planning sheets we used – which were designed in partnership with WYLP, as it was nice and detailed and explained every stage of the process and each person knew exactly what was expected and when. They recognised that our learner support arrangements are really important to us and our delivery approach and praised us on how we support and engage with our learners and employers. We explained to inspectors that we used WYLP support services to help improve and enhance our provision (for example OTLA, L&M, audits, data support) and they liked that approach as it provides an element of external challenge and partnership working.    Leadership and management interviews went well and there was a clear and consistent message throughout.

  • Did you have any concerns during the visit? 

No concerns during the visit. We were well prepared as we’ve had years of knowing what to expect.  We initially were not sure if they would have time to complete observations, but they were clear this was to be included and the observations and evidence review was quite evenly balanced and weighted as we had two inspectors.  While one inspector was out observing with a member of the delivery team, the other was with me reviewing evidence, discussing provision and completing interviews and phone calls.

  • What actions have taken place following the visit – action plan / development plan?

Post inspection plan is being completed, which is linked to our SAR & QIP.  Since the monitoring visit we have taken on some new staff, so we are concentrating on getting them up to date with everything.  Ofsted said in our feedback “Just keep doing the same things you are already doing” - but we are aware that as provision grows we must maintain the standards of education and ensure new staff adopt our approach.

  • Have you written your SAR / QIP & included monitoring visit findings? 

Post inspection SAR / QIP is currently being developed.  Our messages to staff and SMT / Board is to Make sure that we are consistent with what we are doing and don’t change as we grow.   So, this will be a clear message in our development plans.

  • Do you now feel ready for a full inspection? 

Yes, but would find it more challenging as it is against the full inspection framework. I feel we would need more CPD and will use WYLP to help us out with providing the external challenge and support.

  • Do you think monitoring visits are a good preparation experience for full inspections or do they give a false sense of security?

Yes, they help prepare us as it a good starting block for a full inspection. It also presents a real-life experience of what a full inspection could be like. It was also good to go through the process of being a nominee and getting the SMT & CEO involved.  I can see why some providers may feel a false sense of security but as long as you do not deviate from your plans and delivery and continue to develop and improve there should not be many surprises during a full inspection. 

  • Were there any surprises during the visit – areas you were surprised they focused on or didn’t focus on? 

No, they touched on and covered on everything. However, we did prepare achievement data from our existing learners with our prime, but they didn’t look at historic data from when we were a subcontractor - they just focused on the progress, performance and impact of current learners.

  • What advice would you give to a provider before their visit?

Make sure that everyone knows what is going on across the provision and have a clear understanding of the provision and its strengths. It is important that providers genuinely believe in what you are doing and delivering. Make sure all the evidence you are using is accurate, up to date, signed and available for the inspectors. Make sure you take advantage from local networks as there is always support available and the level of support is really good (from WYLP anyway).

  • Anything further to add?

Each of the inspectors gave feedback and the judgements were all positive. The whole process was reassuring and rewarding.

The link to the HOT Ofsted monitoring report can be found below -  https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/33/58139

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