The Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has released her annual report on inspections undertaken.

The further education and skills sector is primarily made up of independent learning providers, colleges and community learning and skills providers.

This year, there has been an unusually high level of change in providers of further education and skills. This is because:

  • providers delivering Advanced Learner Loans funded provision for adults have been included in scope for inspection
  • several colleges have merged
  • several sixth form colleges have become academies

This changeability is likely to accelerate in the 2017 to 2018 academic year as a consequence of changes to apprenticeship funding, further college mergers and more sixth form colleges becoming academies.

Inspection outcomes

Between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017, 392 further education and skills providers were inspected. This included 102 colleges, 159 independent learning providers (including employer providers) and 78 community learning and skills providers. Ofsted also contributed to the inspections of 41 prisons and young offender institutions, where the reports were published between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017.

On 31 August 2017, 8 out of 10 of the 1,052 further education and skills providers that had been inspected were judged to be good or outstanding at their most recent inspection. This is the same proportion at the end of last year.

Colleges

The proportion of general FE colleges judged to be good or outstanding at their most recent inspection declined by two percentage points, from 71% on 31 August 2016 to 69% on 31 August 2017.

The proportion of sixth form colleges judged to be good or outstanding declined by 8 percentage points, from 89% on 31 August 2016 to 81% on 31 August 2017. This decline can be attributed equally to a drop in performance at inspection this year and to a number of sixth form colleges converting to 16 to 19 academies or merging with other colleges, and hence being excluded from sixth form college official statistics.

For a detailed breakdown of these inspection outcomes, see page 52 of the Annual Report.

Independent learning providers

The proportion of independent learning providers (including employer providers) judged to be good or outstanding at their most recent inspection declined from 83% in 2016 to 80% this year. A higher proportion of providers previously judged good declined at inspection this year. Of the 159 providers inspected during the year, 57% were judged to be good or outstanding. This is 15 percentage points lower than last year.

For a detailed breakdown of these inspection outcomes, see page 56 of the Annual Report.

Apprenticeships

Inspection outcomes

In the 2016 to 2017 academic year, 189 providers were judged on the delivery of their apprenticeships:

  • 6% were found to be outstanding
  • 43% good
  • 40% required improvement
  • 11% were inadequate

At the point of inspection, these providers were delivering apprenticeships to 187,000 apprentices. Fifty-two per cent of the apprentices were in good or outstanding provision. This year, the proportion of apprentices training with inadequate providers was much higher compared with last year, at 20% (37,000 apprentices).

For a detailed breakdown of these inspection outcomes and their context, see page 57 of the Annual Report.