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Under-fire college banned from recruiting apprentices in England.

Byline: WILL HAYWARD Reporter

AWELSH college has been banned from recruiting English students after a damning report.

Gower College Swansea was heavily criticised by England's school standards watchdog over the apprenticeship programme it has launched in England.

England's watchdog, Ofsted, cited issues including problems with management, safeguarding and the quality of training being offered.

The college launched apprenticeships in England in October 2017 and currently has 57 apprentices all over the age of 19.

As the college is operating in England as well as Wales, England's watchdog, Ofsted, carried out its own inspection. The college's Welsh operation is inspected by Estyn.

Ofsted inspectors found "leaders and managers" at the college "do not ensure that safeguarding is a high priority".

They added: "They do not ensure that all apprentices receive training in safeguarding and the 'prevent' duty. As a result, too many apprentices do not have the information they need in order to keep themselves safe."

Beyond safeguarding there were also issues found with the quality of the training on offer.

These included: | Not ensuring all apprentices receive their full entitlement of off-thejob training during working hours; | the college did not act swiftly enough to deal with identified weaknesses in the teaching of functional skills English and mathematics. As a result, too many apprentices make slow progress; | apprentices do not have enough carefully planned on-the-job learning; | apprentices did not have the required off-the-job training; | apprentices were not being given the time they need by their employers to complete their apprenticeship studies; | spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors in apprentices' work were not corrected routinely. As a result, apprentices continue to repeat the same mistakes; and | the planning and delivery of training to develop apprentices' English and mathematical skills are poor.

The watchdog did find the large majority of apprentices stay on programme and had "well-qualified tutors who deliver theory and practical training that help apprentices relate what they learn to their job roles".

It is understood that England-based apprentices already in place will continue on the scheme. The restriction on new apprentices will only be lifted once improvements are made.

A spokeswoman for the college said: "The feedback from Ofsted's new provider monitoring visit was clearly very disappointing.

"Whilst the college has a longstanding record for the delivery of high-quality apprenticeship provision in Wales, our delivery in England has been kept intentionally small and to date has been limited to 57 students only and six employers, mainly in the south of the country.

"Although our predicted qualification achievement and retention and rates are very good indeed, it is fully recognised that there are still improvements that we need to make in terms of some of the different expectations required in England.

"We therefore accept Ofsted's findings and are confident that we can make the necessary improvements to enhance the service we offer to our apprentices and employers."

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 13, 2019
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