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University’s apprenticeships 'require improvement'

Too few apprentices at Sheffield Hallam University completed the NVQ element of their training, Ofsted found

Ofsted has graded Sheffield Hallam requires improvement for its apprenticeship offering

A university has had its apprenticeship provision graded "requires improvement" by Ofsted.

Inspectors said that too many engineering apprentices at Sheffield Hallam University did not value or complete the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) component of their programmes. Around two-fifths of operations/departmental manager apprentices left their programmes early without completing this component.

In a report from an inspection last month, inspectors also found that a small proportion of the apprentices did not receive their full entitlement to off-the-job training. However, they praised the university for the high employment rates of apprentices after they finished their apprentices.

Read more: Parents still prefer university to apprenticeships

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Background: Degree apprenticeships to be regulated by Hefce, not Ofsted

Ofsted does not have the power to inspect level 6 or 7 apprenticeships, which account for “the vast majority” of apprenticeship provision at Sheffield Hallam, according to the university – and the inspection focused on provision of apprenticeships at level 5 and below for fewer than 100 learners.

The university began to deliver higher apprenticeships in engineering in 2015 and introduced the level 5 operations/departmental manager standard last year.

A Sheffield Hallam University spokesperson said: "Clearly this was not the grading we were hoping for, which was for our level 4 and 5 apprenticeship courses – around 10 per cent of our overall apprenticeship provision. However, we are pleased that Ofsted recognised effective teaching, our level of ambition and capacity to improve. We are implementing a comprehensive action plan to address these findings and help us realise our ambition to achieve 'good' or 'outstanding' in future."

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