Apprenticeship News: Watson Martin achieves ‘reasonable progress’ in Ofsted report

Leading training and qualifications provider Watson Martin achieved the thumbs up in all three areas of its first Ofsted apprenticeship monitoring visit. The report published by Ofsted on 14 February 2020 found that Watson Martin is making ‘reasonable progress’ in the three assessed themes of Leadership and Management, Quality and Outcomes of Training, and Safeguarding.

An accredited provider of HR and L&D apprenticeships since January 2018, Watson Martin works with organisations in the public, private and charitable sectors.  At the time of the inspection, there were 69 apprentices on levels 3 and 5 HR and L&D programmes.  This number is set to rise to over 100 this year.

Monitoring visits for apprenticeship providers are different to full and short inspections by Ofsted. They take place over two days and inspectors make progress judgements to assess whether providers can deliver high-quality training and understand the requirements to ensure that apprentices train in environments that take safety and well-being seriously.

Ofsted Report

The report has been welcomed by Watson Martin Director Heather Watson who heads up the apprenticeship business. “This is our first visit by Ofsted since we established the apprenticeships business two years ago and we feel that making ‘reasonable progress’ is a significant achievement in this timeframe,” she said. “We are aware that many apprenticeship providers have been stopped from taking on more apprentices after receiving very poor Ofsted reviews.  We received some really positive comments from the inspectors and we are looking forward to building on their recommendations and taking our apprenticeship business to the next level,” she added.

According to an opinion article published earlier this month in FEWeek by Ofsted’s Deputy Director for Further Education and Skills, Paul Joyce, one in five of new apprenticeship providers that received monitoring visits in 2018/2019 were making insufficient progress in one or more areas.

Equally concerning, he wrote, is the fact that too many training providers are unclear on the purpose of an apprenticeship.  In some cases, apprentices did not receive adequate off-the-job training, which resulted in many making slow progress on their apprenticeship.  In the worst cases, employees did not even know they were on an apprenticeship programme.

The findings make worrying reading particularly as since the funding reforms of 2017, there has been a sharp increase in the number of apprenticeship providers.  Ofsted believes that questions remain over the quality of some courses provided to learners.

Ten key findings on Watson Martin’s apprenticeship provision included in Ofsted’s report

  • Apprentices receive good-quality off-the-job training from well-qualified advisers.
  • Advisers provide effective support for apprentices. They maintain frequent contact and monitor apprentices’ progress via their electronic portfolios.
  • Watson Martin has forged close working relationships with large employers. They co-design apprenticeship programmes to match employers’ specific business needs.
  • Employers fully understand and meet their obligations, including for the off-the-job training entitlement.
  • Employers are very supportive of their apprentices and, as a result, very few leave the programme. The vast majority are on course to complete within planned timescales.
  • Quality assurance arrangements are effective. Advisers meet frequently to review all aspects of delivery.
  • Apprentices acquire new and occupationally specific knowledge, skills and behaviours. They gain in confidence.
  • Watson Martin conducts thorough assessments of apprentices’ skills and knowledge at the start of the programme.
  • They involve line managers when assessing prior learning and matching apprentices to the right level and standard.
  • Leaders and managers place high importance on the safety and well-being of apprentices.

Click here to read a full copy of the Ofsted report.

For further information about Watson Martin’s HR and L&D apprenticeships please call our advisers on 020 7932 2760.