Ofsted will grade colleges and training providers on their apprenticeships, traineeships and adult-learning programmes, under a wide-ranging inspection overhaul announced today.
The watchdog is considering separate grades for different areas of FE provision, which could also include 16-19 study programmes, employability and community learning.
Lorna Fitzjohn, Ofsted's national director for learning and skills, said the move would help employers to make informed decisions about which FE providers to work with.
Speaking today at the launch of a consultation over Ofsted’s proposed new framework, she said the move had come about because of concerns over the quantity and quality of apprenticeships – which can be delivered by FE colleges, independent providers or employers.
She said: “I think that it’s absolutely vital that we highlight within these institutions what exactly the provision for apprenticeships is like there.
"Not only for learners, not only for young people to choose where they go as part of their apprenticeship, but also employers. Much of this apprenticeship funding, as we all know, will be going through employers in the near future…and they will be choosing where their apprentices go to do their training, so I think it’s vital that we’re absolutely clear what the quality of that provision is like.”
Other changes put forward in the proposed framework for colleges, training providers, schools and early years providers include more regular inspections for institutions rated good.
They would be visited every three years, with the inspection, typically led by one or two inspectors, lasting for around a day and a half. The shorter inspections, as originally outlined earlier this year, were initially envisaged to take place every two years. Currently, providers are notified the afternoon before their inspection starts. Ofsted also revealed it has no plans to introduce no-notice inspections for all providers.
“I believe that our new inspections should place emphasis on safeguarding, the breadth of the curriculum in schools, the relevance of courses and training in further education and skills, and the quality of early learning,” the watchdog's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said.
“Only then will we be able to make sure that all children and learners are properly safeguarded and prepared for life in the modern world.”
The consultation on the proposals, which would come into effect in September 2015, ends on 5 December.
Ofsted announces another U-turn over no-notice inspections - October 2014
Ofsted launches wave of no-notice school inspections - September 2014
Ofsted scraps grades for individual lessons - August 2014