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:
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.