First, let’s start with the process
If you’re on the RoATP and considered a ‘new’ provider of apprenticeship training, you will receive a New Provider Monitoring Visit from Ofsted within 24 months of starting to deliver apprenticeship training at Levels 2 to 5. You have two days’ notice, just like a full inspection.
This visit isn’t just for brand new training providers, it is also for employer providers and organisations like Pearson TQ that have been delivering apprenticeships as a subcontractor for many years (Pearson TQ currently supports over 4,000 apprentices). It’s for all providers now responsible for the quality of the apprenticeship provision. The process is intended to support providers in the early months of operation.
Which themes does it cover?
The New Provider Monitoring Visit covers three themes:
- Leadership. How much progress have leaders made to ensure that they meet all the requirements of successful apprenticeship provision?
- The quality and outcomes of training. What progress have leaders and managers made to make sure that apprentices receive high-quality training that leads to positive outcomes?
- Safeguarding. How much progress have leaders and managers made in ensuring that safeguarding arrangements are effective?
Want more detail from Ofsted’s point of view? Read HMI Specialist Adviser for Apprenticeships, Chris Jones’ blog post on Ofsted’s website.
What did PTQ learn from the process?
Poppy Carter Mills, Head of Apprenticeships, and the inspection nominee Neil Saunders, Senior Quality Manager, give an honest assessment and some practical advice to help new providers prepare for their visit.
Top Tips for providers to consider – advice from Pearson TQ
“When Ofsted came to see us at Pearson TQ, they interrogated in depth on how much we knew about our employers and their employees. They wanted to ensure that the Employers were fully engaged in all aspects of the apprenticeship and that it was relevant to the needs of their business.”
Ofsted commented on the significant level of employer buy-in to the programme from curriculum design through to reviews to achievement, demonstrating clearly that the achievement of apprentices is linked to the effective partnership between the employer and Pearson TQ. Leaders ensure that employers are fully committed to the roles and responsibilities involved in an apprenticeship programme.
“It may feel like a lot of time is spent prior to the delivery of the programme to build this relationship and get the programme’s design right, but that investment pays dividends in learner achievement, and we were very happy to see that Ofsted recognised that commitment.”
“The inspectors quizzed us on our curriculum at length. At first it felt critical, but it became clear that they were checking we knew why we had chosen to structure the curriculum the way we had. They wanted us to be able to demonstrate intent.”
“They spoke to our apprentices and employers at length, to verify that our intent for the curriculum was being implemented and apprentices had learned the skills, knowledge and behaviors expected of them by that point in their apprenticeship programme.”
They found that Pearson TQ’s leaders and managers worked very effectively with employers to design a highly relevant curriculum, that the curriculum intent was being realised and that there was an avenue for learners and employers to feedback improvements into delivery which were rapidly assimilated to improve delivery for future cohorts.
Know your weaknesses
“It sounds strange to have weaknesses as a ‘tip’, but Ofsted commented that our Self Assessment Review (SAR) was accurate, reflecting that there was effective leadership and governance of the program, with leaders having a clear understanding of learner's’ progress and what was needed to continually improve the delivery.”
The SAR is not a sales leaflet of strengths, it’s an honest reflection of your delivery and to be effective in leadership you need to be clear as to the quality of your delivery. Don’t hide your weaknesses, be transparent and plan, how you will address those weaknesses, in what timescale and the impact you expect, documented in your Quality Improvement Plan.
Safeguarding is critical to quality apprenticeships
“Ofsted interrogated every part of safeguarding (and the Prevent duty), not only to check what we were doing was correct, but also to ensure that employers and apprentices understood the issues and, those on management programmes, were able to communicate this to their teams”
“We had worked so hard to ensure that everyone from our Governors/ leaders through to our apprentices and their employers understood the reasons that apprentices needed to feel safe during their learning; Ofsted noticed this, and they thought what we were doing enabled apprentices to show the best version of themselves in the knowledge they had full support from their Pearson TQ tutor and their employer.”
It's not just about what you teach
“Ofsted were clearly interested in both our teaching content and its quality, but they were equally interested in the whole of the programme, how the apprentices were supported in terms of their progress, the high standards apprentices were supported to achieve and also broader subjects such as the quality of self-directed prereading and the delivery of high-level English skills.”
Ofsted also commented “apprentices have a good understanding of what they need to do for their final assessment.” “This really reflected the wholesale change our staff went through when switching from frameworks to standards and validated the investment we made in both our staff and resources to ensure our apprentices were as prepared as they could be for their End Point Assessment.”
Ofsted also said “[apprentices] appreciate the opportunity to join recognised professional associations when they achieve their qualification.” “We were particularly happy to see this as we had worked very hard to ensure we improve learner outcomes and set them on a professional journey
Listen and learn
“It’s worth saying that the New Provider Monitoring Visit did not feel like a full inspection. It was a very supportive process, with Ofsted giving us useful tips to make improvements throughout the two days.
“They were trying to tease out what impact our decisions had on the apprentices – and help us make amendments to improve the experience for our apprentices "
“Overall, it was a really positive experience. We learned a great deal to take forward. To also be recognised as making ‘significant progress’ across all three themes, was really humbling for us, we are proud of our apprenticeship programmes and our team who deliver and support the programmes and apprentices.”