Ofsted have updated all of their inspection handbooks for September 2015. The one that is most applicable to us is the Further Education and Skills Handbook, which covers the provision of apprenticeships.
Two important points to note from the outset:
- The content of the handbook must not be viewed as only applicable in the lead up to an inspection, and the way we work should never be for the purpose of impressing Ofsted. If we plan our sessions effectively and continually strive for outstanding, then whenever Ofsted, funding providers, employers, parents and other interested stakeholders visit, we won’t feel the need to put on a performance for them – it will be a case of ‘business as usual’; and
- The outstanding criteria are not restricted to classroom teaching. The apprentices’ attitudes, behaviours and employability skills are also under scrutiny, which means that professional development training, ILP meetings, SMART target-setting, social mixing, and the extent of social action are just as important.
Ultimately, Ofsted inspectors judge the quality of teaching (however it is delivered), and assessing by the impact on learning, and not by the impressiveness of available resources, nor how many activities a tutor can cram into a single session.
Providers must carefully consider how to measure and record the impact on learning, which will have implications from a compliance perspective.
The outstanding grade descriptors for the quality of teaching, learning and assessment include the following, which are worthy of note:
- Staff plan learning sessions and assessments very effectively so that all learners undertake demanding work that helps them to realise their potential;
- Staff have consistently high expectations of all learners’ attitudes to learning and learners are set challenging targets to achieve;
- Learners use their experiences in the workplace to further develop their knowledge, skills and understanding;
- Staff give learners incisive feedback about what they can do to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills;
- Learners capitalise on opportunities to use feedback to improve;
- Where appropriate, parents and/or employers are provided with clear and timely information that details the extent of learners’ progress in relation to the standards expected and what they need to do to improve;
- Staff promote, where appropriate, English, mathematics, ICT and employability skills exceptionally well and ensure that learners are well-equipped with the necessary skills to progress to their next steps.
In relation to personal development, behaviour and welfare, the following characteristics are included as outstanding:
- Learners are confident and self-assured. Their excellent attitudes to learning have a strong, positive impact on their progress. They take pride in the work they complete with the provider and in the workplace;
- Learners understand how their education and training equip them with the behaviours and attitudes necessary for success in the future, as reflected by the excellent employability skills they acquire and the achievement of relevant additional qualifications;
- Learners often quickly become an asset to the business and make a highly valued contribution;
- Attendance and punctuality at learning sessions and/or work are consistently excellent. They meet challenging deadlines well;
- The personal and social development of learners equips them to be thoughtful, caring and active citizens.
This should manifest itself in the form of apprentices who are aware and able to articulate their knowledge and understanding clearly, and convincingly demonstrate the skills they have acquired.
In other words, they should be able to distinguish between what they have done and what they have learned.
The unabridged version of The Further Education and Skills Inspection Handbook is available here.