Will Ofsted inspect degree apprenticeships?

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Ofsted admits to being in talks with other agencies and the government to discuss the possibility of being allowed to inspect degree apprenticeships

Earlier this week, FE Week editor, Nick Linford, and Ofsted's deputy director for FE and skills, Paul Joyce, had an exclusive webinar where they discussed Ofsted's desire to inspect degree apprenticeships. Currently, degree apprenticeships are only inspected by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), which inspects all university-level provision. However, this may all change.

Mr Joyce admitted that the government, QAA and Higher Education Funding Council for England are in talks with Ofsted. They are discussing whether Ofsted should be allowed to inspect the apprenticeship section of the degree to ensure that they are high quality. Ofsted would not inspect the university part of the degree, just the apprenticeship. At the moment there are still areas that need to be discussed and decided upon, such as how will the inspection be divided between the QAA and Ofsted, if there will be a two tiered approach, and what degree level apprenticeship inspections will look like. 

Mr Joyce stated: “I’m certainly of the view that regardless of its level, an apprenticeship is an apprenticeship. To me, it makes perfect sense that we have one inspection regime for an apprenticeship and that inspection regime should be Ofsted across the piece.”

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers has already pushed for Ofsted to be given the power to inspect each stage of the apprenticeships. 

Chief executive Mark Dawe said in his response to last week’s annual Ofsted report: “Since I started in this role, I have been told not to worry about the quality regime for degree apprenticeships because QAA has it all in hand – mainly by HE sector representatives.

“It has taken me some time, but what I can assure everyone is that there is nothing further from the truth.

“Let’s stop pussy footing around and pandering to the HE sector. Ofsted need to have a role in inspecting all apprenticeship provision whatever level it is.”

This news comes just a week after the announcement that nursing degree apprenticeships are to be introduced next year.

Apprenticeships are a vital part of our education system, especially at this time when there is such a significant skills shortage in the UK. If we are going to decrease the skills gap, then more needs to be done to promote apprenticeships and the skills that they have to offer. The apprenticeships on offer also have to be of high quality to ensure that the learners have the level of skills needed for the workplace. If Ofsted can ensure that apprenticeships meet a high standard, then perhaps it is just another step needed to lessen the current skills deficit. 

Source: FE Week

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