Home Bootcamps Ofsted to inspect skills bootcamps after report flags quality issues

Ofsted to inspect skills bootcamps after report flags quality issues

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Ofsted will be given the power to inspect skills bootcamps next year, after a exam of the flagship short course program found inconsistent quality of training and poor supervision.

The Department for Education has agreed for the watchdog to incorporate visits to providers of 12-16 week courses into its regular inspection of continuing education and skills providers, from April 2023.

The news follows the release of a report from Ofsted this morning, which assessed the second wave of the skills bootcamp scheme which ran from July 2021 to March this year.

The report, commissioned by the DfE to understand the extent to which bootcamps provided the intended vocational training, said most providers “organized the program appropriately and used high quality resources and learning materials”. .

However, Ofsted identified that “teaching quality was not always high and assessment practices were often weak”.

“Too many providers haven’t done rigorous initial assessments,” he added.

Worryingly, Ofsted also found that ‘too often’ leaders failed to ensure learners had their guaranteed job interview – one of the course’s main selling points – because ‘they don’t have not sufficiently developed good relations with employers”.

Elsewhere, programs designed to be delivered entirely online with limited teacher support have resulted in a “bad experience” for many learners.

Skills Boot Camps are flexible courses designed for adults to train for careers in national skills shortage areas, such as construction, manufacturing and digital. The bootcamps, structured around levels 3 to 5, also guarantee an interview with an employer.

They were first announced in September 2020 as a key pillar of the National Government Skills Fund.

There were 36 providers from the second wave of bootcamps, 14 of which were sampled for Ofsted’s report.

Almost £50million has already been spent on the scheme and the DfE has set a target of 16,000 people to start and complete classes in 2021/22.

Over half a billion pounds have been committed to skills training camps from 2022 to 2025. The third wave began in September 2022.

Bootcamps can be delivered by a variety of organizations including FE colleges, private companies, independent training providers, local business partnerships, higher education institutions and local authorities.

They can also contract out program delivery if they wish – a point made by Ofsted who said that “too often contractors do not maintain sufficient oversight of subcontractor activity.” -contractors and partner suppliers”.

This included verifying course design, how program content was determined, and liaising with employers.

Further, he noted that while learner retention was high and some courses had proven popular, others – such as construction and engineering – had not met recruitment targets.

Data on these recruitment targets was not provided, but the DfE’s target is for 75% of learners to gain new employment.

The DfE originally ruled that Ofsted was not required to inspect the delivery of the skills boot camp, as the department monitors performance throughout the duration of the contract, and providers must provide evidence that the training will be of high quality for their offer to be accepted.

Previous early research reports on skills boot camps have reported bad results and data collection issues.

Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said: ‘These courses provide good opportunities for adults to learn new skills in sectors vital to our economy, but it is important that all courses are of high quality and lead on jobs.

“I welcome the DfE’s agreement for Ofsted to inspect skills training camps as part of our regular inspections. This will support the government’s approach to tackling skills shortages in England by ensuring learners and employers benefit from well-planned and effective programmes.

Minister for Skills, Learning and Higher Education, Robert Halfon, said: “We welcome the findings of this report, which highlight the significant progress being made in delivering high quality skills enhancement courses. quality, extending the ladder of opportunity to adults across the country.

“These free and flexible courses have helped thousands of people gain in-demand skills and boost their earning potential, which is why we are now including them in Ofsted’s inspection mandate to ensure the program continues to thrive. provide top-notch training.”

As part of its recommendations, Ofsted tasked the DfE with setting out expectations around areas of concern and how providers can develop relationships with employers, although these expectations are unclear.

It also asks the DfE to take “appropriate steps” to ensure that contractors ensure a good quality offer from sub-contractors.

Ofsted has confirmed that upcoming inspections from April next year will cover all skills boot camp providers – although they are currently outside Ofsted inspections currently because they are not exempting any other government funded training.

A spokesperson said these would be new suppliers.