Ofsted Annual Report 2021: What We Learnt About the FE & Skills Sector

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Ofsted Annual Report 2021: What We Learnt About the FE & Skills Sector

This year has been no ordinary year, in fact we could say it has been one of the most challenging as a provider and as a learner. Disruption in routine, loss of education and lack of activities has left many disillusioned. As restrictions ease and we begin to move back into a “new normal”, we wanted to share the various takeaways from the annual report and how providers can best prepare for future inspections. The full Ofsted report can be found here.

Overview

With routine inspections suspended for much of the year, Ofsted completed 250 interim visits and 140 progress monitoring visits (PMVs) to a sample of providers. These visits were to help the learners, parents, employers and government understand how providers were meeting the needs of apprentices during this period, including learners with high needs and SEND. The interim visits did not result in a grade. There were also 44 full inspections and 280 other monitoring visits including almost 230 new provider monitoring visits (NPMV) who were delivering apprenticeships.

There were just over 2,000 FE and skills providers publicly funded and providing education, training and/or apprenticeships. The diagram below provides an overview of the inspections and monitoring visits by Ofsted, categorised by FE and skills providers.

Ofsted report figure 7

[Figure 7, page 44, The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2020/21]

Compared to the previous year, there were 180 more FE and skills providers:

  • 310 new providers joined the RoATP
  • 130 merged/ceased to be funded or stopped delivering

In terms of overall effectiveness of the FE and skills providers, 83% was judged to be good or outstanding which was a 2% increase from the previous year. However, the main reason for this increase was due to providers who were judged to require improvements or inadequate were no longer in scope for inspection due to them losing their funding or closing down.

Overall effectiveness of FE and skills providers as of 31 August 2021

Ofsted report figure 8

[Figure 8, page 45, The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2020/21]

Apprenticeships

Almost 1,600 FE and skills providers delivered apprenticeships in 2021, of which around three quarters (74%) had a judgement made on the quality of their apprenticeship provision. Of the 1,180 providers, 81% were judged as good or outstanding.

Quality of apprenticeship provision over time

Ofsted report figure 9

[Figure 9, page 47, The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2020/21]

New Provider Monitoring Visits (NPMVs)

These are brief interim inspections of new providers. These visits provide an early assessment of progress and risk and normally done within 2 years of starting. Providers then receive a full inspection within 2 years of the publication of the NPMV. Judgements are made against 3 themes:

  • Leadership and management
  • Quality of education and training
  • Safeguarding

This year, there were 230 NPMVs and 76% had made reasonable or significant progress across all themes. 24% had made insufficient against at least 1 theme.

Progress Monitoring Visits (PMVs)

PMVs were brief inspections to new providers and those judged as requiring improvement or inadequate. Resulted in a single progress judgement, which included the provision of remote/online delivery.

Judgements in PMVs were insufficient progress, reasonable progress or significant progress. 15% were judged to be making insufficient progress

Outcomes of PMVs 2020/21

Ofsted report table 3

[Table 3, page 48, The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2020/21]

Best practices

  • The best providers structured the curriculum logically to enable apprentices to learn basic knowledge and skills at the start and then progress onto more complex ones
  • Leaders ensured that training officers and workplace line managers developed the apprentices’ skills and behaviours to carry out the job role and to achieve apprenticeship standards
  • Ensured the curriculum was accessible and supported apprentices with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) effectively. They identified these needs early on in the programme and put in place strategies to enable equal access to lessons.
  • Strong providers also carried out rigorous initial assessments to check that the apprentices were suitable for the programme. Made sure that the employer had a full understanding of the level of commitment required.
  • Used the initial assessment to plan training tailored to the skills needs and interests of the individual apprentice and their employer. Link the knowledge that most apprentices had gained from independently researched projects to their job roles
  • These providers worked effectively to adapt the curriculum in the changing circumstances of the pandemic. Leaders made sure the tutors were trained to teach using online and remote resources

Poor practices

  • Weak providers did not provide ambitious curriculum for apprentices and resulted in them merely accrediting their existing skills rather than developing significantly new skills
  • They did not adapt curriculum quickly or effectively during the pandemic and didn’t train on remote delivery. Moreover, they tried to replicate what was done in the classroom without considering the difference in teaching methods
  • Leaders and managers did not evaluate accurately (or at all) the quality of the training provided remotely. As a result, there was too much ineffective teaching, and training and feedback was not provided to improve quality. When students returned to face to face, they had too many gaps in learning needing to be remedied

Understanding what the inspectors look for when grading providers and reflecting on best practices of top providers as well as poor practices from weaker ones, will hopefully give you a great start in preparing for future Ofsted inspections.

At OneFile, we provide Ofsted support as part of our Premier Services packages. Find out more here.

Reference:

The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2020/21 - Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2020/21 (publishing.service.gov.uk)

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