Progress Reviews – Important or What?

In our experience there are two things that put the wind up most training providers – Ofsted Inspection and ESFA Audit. No wonder really, the consequences of coming out on the wrong side of either process can spell disaster.  An inadequate inspection grade or extrapolated clawback can be terminal – at the very least they bring instability and anxiety.

Inspection and Audit are very different in purpose and approach though they are not entirely divorced from one another.

In our view, the axis at which audit and inspection cross is the Progress Review – get that right and so many other things fall in to place.

An inspection report published at the end of March 2023 read:

despite tutors receiving training on how to complete effective progress reviews and provide feedback that helps apprentices to improve their work, this training has not yet had a positive impact on apprentices’ experiences. They still do not have a clear understanding of what they have done well and what they need to improve.

In terms of ESFA audit, the minimum requirements of a Progress Review are that they:

  • Check progress against any actions agreed at the previous review, including any training that has been delivered since the last review;
  • Allow for any off-the-job training evidence, particularly that which is outside of your control, to be discussed, agreed, collected, or documented;
  • Check overall progress of the apprentice against their agreed training plan, documenting any slippage against the volume of planned off-the[1]job training;
  • Provide for an opportunity to update the training plan (e.g. where it is necessary to replan any off-the-job training that was missed or not delivered);
  • Discuss any concerns that you, the employer or the apprentice have;
  • Discuss any new information / potential changes of circumstance that might impact on the training plan. This could include any additional training required, or any additional prior learning or learning support needs that have come to light since the original initial assessment and / or the last progress review.
  • Agree and document actions for the next review. The record of the progress review must be signed and dated by all parties (apprentice, employer, main provider).

Whilst there are documents as important as the Progress Review in our opinion, there is nothing more important than the Progress Review.

So, if Ofsted consider Progress Reviews to be of such importance and the ESFA hold a similar view to Ofsted, why do so many trainers (and in some instances their leaders) regard the Progress Review process as little more than an inconvenience – something to be completed as quickly as possible with little thought and often no pre-meeting preparation.

Just worth reflecting but in terms of what we see, most providers can improve what they do, too many providers require cultural change.