Further education providers have been left for as long as a decade without being subjected to a full inspection, TES can reveal.
According to new data from Ofsted, two providers were last inspected more than 10 years ago. Experts have warned that too much time is being allowed between visits, meaning providers’ performance could be at risk of deteriorating without oversight from Ofsted.
Employer Bright Horizons in Northamptonshire was last inspected in September 2005, when it received a grade 3 from the former Adult Learning Inspectorate, which became part of Ofsted in 2007. Also in 2005, Herefordshire-based independent training provider Riverside Training was rated outstanding. Neither has been inspected since.
Ofsted said both providers had ceased to be funded for some time and had therefore no longer been eligible for inspection, before returning to being funded again. This, the inspection body stressed, explained “the longer than usual gap between inspections”.
A further seven providers were last inspected in 2006, while 19 were most recently subjected to a full inspection in 2007.
A total of 180 FE providers have not had a full inspection by Ofsted in the past five years. And while many of those were rated outstanding, two of them received a “requires improvement” rating.
The figures also reveal that 13 FE providers that received a grade 3 or worse for quality of teaching have not had a full inspection in the past five years. Two, however, had a short inspection in October of this year, when it was acknowledged improvements had been made.
Over the past decade, the inspection framework for the FE and skills sector has been changed three times, meaning that providers are being assessed against very different criteria from those in use in 2005.
Routine full inspections of outstanding providers were abolished in 2012, with return visits by inspectors taking place only when concerns have been triggered through Ofsted’s risk-assessment process by, for example, a drop in grades or complaints by parents.
This is an edited version of an article in the 11 December edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full version of this story here. Read the full coverage in this week’s TES magazine, available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here