A Welsh college delivering apprenticeships in England has been criticised by Ofsted for failing to ensure that its apprentices receive sufficient off-the-job training.
This training should make up 20 per cent of an apprentice's time, but the inspectorate's monitoring report into Gower College Swansea, published today, said college leaders "do not ensure that apprenticeship programmes comply with the principles and requirements of an apprenticeship programme".
The college was rated as having made "insufficient progress" – the lowest grade – in all three areas inspected.
The report states: "For example, they do not make sure that all apprentices receive their full entitlement of off-the-job training during working hours. Leaders and managers do not act swiftly enough to deal with identified weaknesses in the teaching of functional skills English and mathematics. As a result, too many apprentices make slow progress."
Ofsted has been undertaking monitoring visits to all new directly funded providers of apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships: 'Insufficient' feedback
Gower College has been delivering apprenticeships in England since October 2017. It currently has 57 levy-funded apprenticees, who are all 19 years-old or above.
The report adds that the college's leaders do not have a clear rationale for how they planned the apprenticeship training programme, and too many apprentices were not being given enough time by their employers to complete their apprenticeship studies.
The report also says that tutors "do not give sufficiently detailed feedback to apprentices". "The feedback does not help apprentices to understand what they need to do to achieve higher grades in their end-point assessment. Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors in apprentices’ work are not corrected routinely. As a result, apprentices continue to repeat the same mistakes," it adds.
The college fails to ensure that apprentices "receive training in safeguarding and the ‘Prevent’ duty. As a result, too many apprentices do not have the information they need in order to keep themselves safe.
"Leaders and managers have a detailed 'Prevent’ duty action plan. However, they do not identify specific risks and threats in the regions where apprentices work. As a result, there is no training in place to help apprentices understand the risks that are local to their place of work.”
A college spokesperson said: "The feedback from Ofsted’s new provider monitoring visit was clearly very disappointing.
"While the college has a long-standing record for the delivery of high-quality apprenticeship provision in Wales, our delivery in England has been kept intentionally small and to date has been limited to six employers, mainly in the south of the country.
"Although our predicted qualification achievement and retention rates are very good indeed, it is fully recognised that there are still improvements that we need to make in terms of some of the different expectations required in England.
"We therefore accept Ofsted’s findings and are confident that we can make the necessary improvements to enhance the service we offer to our apprentices and employers in England – building on our award-winning apprenticeship delivery in Wales."
Ofsted monitoring visits: areas inspected
- Ensuring that the provider is meeting all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision.
- Ensuring that apprentices benefit from high-quality training that leads to positive outcomes for apprentices.
- Ensuring that effective safeguarding arrangements are in place.