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Ofsted: Five things degree apprenticeship providers need to know

From 1 April 2021 all apprenticeships, including those at levels 6 & 7, are in scope for Ofsted inspection. Here are our top five things you need to know for degree apprenticeship providers who are new to Ofsted inspection:

1. New provider monitoring visits

If you have never been inspected by Ofsted before, expect a new provider monitoring visit (NPMV) within 24 months of first drawing down apprenticeship funding. If you receive a judgement of “insufficient progress” for any of the four themes at this visit, you will not be able to recruit any further apprentices until you have been reinspected, dependant on the outcome. Make sure that senior managers understand the immediate possible consequences of a poor monitoring outcome. If apprenticeships form a relatively small part of your institution’s delivery and you’re struggling to get buy in, sharing the possible impact could be the leverage you need.

2. Make sure it is an apprenticeship

Delivering high quality degrees doesn’t automatically mean that you deliver good apprenticeships. Ofsted will be looking to ensure that you’re not just delivering a rebadged degree because apprenticeships have very specific requirements. Check that you’re delivering against the requirements of a good apprenticeship by looking at the IFATE statement on “what is a quality apprenticeship?” and the ESFA rules.Introduction to the  Ofsted Education Inspection Framework

3. It’s good to talk

Whether it’s a new provider monitoring visit or a subsequent full inspection, Ofsted is not a desk-based activity. Inspectors will spend more time talking to apprentices, employers and tutors than with senior management or looking at data reports. So you need to be sure that every person they come in to contact with supports your assessment of how good your provision is and understands the aims of your apprenticeship programme: as Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework puts it, the intent of your curriculum.

4. Employers are your deliver partners   

 Ofsted will want to see your curriculum is delivered in a logical way, enabling learners to build their knowledge and develop their skills. Learning needs to be planned and sequenced, which includes on-the-job learning. To achieve that you need to agree with employers how and when apprentices will have opportunities to apply their off-the-job learning in the workplace to develop their skills and become truly competent in their role. To deliver a high-quality apprenticeship programme you need employers on board with this idea – and able to articulate how they work with you to Ofsted inspectors.

5. Safeguarding isn’t just for schools

Don’t assume that because you only recruit learners aged 19 or over you don’t need to worry about safeguarding. You still have a statutory duty as the legislation applies to vulnerable adults as well as under 18s. Outside of the narrow confines of the legislation, Ofsted will expect to see that you’re teaching your learners how to stay safe in modern Britain and that everyone supporting them understands that.

For more resources on preparing for Ofsted inspection listen to our webinar  [recorded November 2020]'