Adult learning provider improves from inadequate to good

Leaders, managers and staff at Essex County Council have worked tirelessly to secure a wide range of improvements to provision, inspectors have said

Julia Belgutay

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An adult community learning provider has improved from being rated inadequate by Ofsted to being judged good. Inspectors found the quality of teaching, learning and assessment at Essex County Council's Adult Community Learning (ACL) Essex had "improved markedly since the previous inspection".

"As a result, the large majority of learners and apprentices rapidly develop their skills and knowledge," says the inspection report.

Learners and apprentices benefit from a culture that is welcoming, enabling, supportive and inclusive, it continues, and leaders, managers and staff are "impressive and successful role models in this regard".

ACL Essex is commissioned by the county council and provides learning across the county, principally as a direct delivery service. ACL Essex has adult community learning centres in most of the major towns in Essex. In addition to the 10 major community learning centres, courses take place at 190 community venues. The provider offers accredited and non-accredited adult learning in 13 subject areas and apprenticeships in three. 

Robust and effective improvement plans

In December 2016, an inspection report rated the provider inadequate, stating that safeguarding arrangements were not effective; too many weaknesses identified at the previous inspection had not been rectified; and, as a result, a smaller and declining proportion of learners and apprentices achieved than did so nationally.

Inspectors also said leaders had not ensured that tutors and assessors improved their practice in a timely manner. Leaders’ self-assessment was also "overgenerous and insufficiently self-critical" and resulted in "weak action-planning to secure improvement". 

Now, 15 months on, inspectors say "leaders, managers and staff have worked tirelessly to secure a wide range of improvements to the provision". They add that the organisation has rectified most areas for improvement identified at the previous inspection. They state: "Leaders, managers and governors know the provision well and have put in place robust and effective improvement plans."

Essex county councillor Ray Gooding, cabinet member for education, said: “Everyone involved in ACL Essex should be incredibly proud of this Ofsted report. The service has improved dramatically since the last inspection and a good rating is a fantastic result for learners, tutors and staff alike.”

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