Colleges and training providers should pay Ofsted to inspect them on an annual basis to ensure quality is maintained, the Education Select Committee has been told.
During an evidence session on the quality of apprenticeships and skills training, Angela Middleton, chief executive of apprenticeship training provider MiddletonMurray, told MPs: “Ofsted has a capacity issue. A number of providers are just not inspected frequently enough.”
She said that many years can go by between inspections and suggested that organisations should cover the costs of their own inspections.
Ms Middleton said: “One of the things that I think should definitely be considered is every single provider and college should be compelled to put aside some funds to pay for an inspection such as Ofsted.”
She added that inspections should “take place at the end of every year”.
Her comments come just weeks after Tes revealed that the Department for Education has pledged to provide Ofsted with additional resources to inspect the increasing number of apprenticeship training providers.
Ms Middleton told MPs that her own organisation has been inspected three times by Ofsted and rated "good" on each occasion. The inspection process leaves you with a “very clear picture of areas for improvement and so you feel like you’ve had some fantastic consultancy and it is effectively free of charge,” she said.
David Corke, director of policy at the Association of Colleges, said: “College budgets are very stretched so they obviously need to prepare for inspections and deal with any recommendations when they happen but it shouldn’t be necessary for every college to have an Ofsted budget.”
Simon Ashworth, chief policy officer, Association of Employment and Learning Providers, commented: “In the post-levy world, having at least a good Ofsted grade is more important than ever. We know that many providers are working hard to adjust to the new rules and expectations, some of which come within the scope of an inspection.”
He added: “How exactly they do this is up to them but mock inspections undertaken by associate HMIs is a common example of best practice.”
A spokesperson for Ofsted said: “Ofsted inspects colleges and training providers according to the timescales set out in our Further Education Inspection Handbook. We have a flexible, risk-based and proportionate approach to inspection. Where we have concerns, we also have the ability to inspect any provider at any time”.
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