Sunday, 7 April 2013


Once again I'm indebted to an anonymous comment for pointing me to this story.
The Work Programme isn't inspected by Ofsted, or anyone else.  Its predecessors, New Deal and FND, were, but either the government had unlimited faith in the power of profit, or the providers made it a condition of taking part, and there is no inspection of the WP.  However, the Learning and Skills provision, dealing with apprenticeships and "employability", does fall under Ofsted's remit.  It's called Work-based Learning, and the funding comes from the Skills Funding Agency.  And the latest inspection of A4e pronounces the company "Inadequate".  You can download it here.
A couple of points about Ofsted first.  Teachers maintain that the new boss, Wilshaw, ordered that all grades should be lowered, so what had previously been "satisfactory" should now be "inadequate" - I don't know how true that is.  And the reports are couched in very careful language, so it's sometimes hard to see why an institution should be blasted.  But with all that in mind, there is no doubt that A4e has performed badly.
Three previous inspections said they were only "satisfactory".  This latest took place early in February, and noted that things had not improved.  The summary says: "This provider is inadequate because -
  • Leaders and managers have failed to ensure that a systematic approach routinely improves outcomes and the quality of provision in A4e learning and skills programmes. Three previous inspections noted that arrangements to ensure or improve the quality of provision were in development; revised quality systems are not having a significant impact.  
  • Outcomes on the apprenticeship programme that A4e has delivered for many years have had consistently inadequate outcomes. Since the previous inspection almost half of the nearly 2500 apprentices who left the scheme did so without their main qualification.  
  • Too much teaching, learning and assessment is uninspiring or mechanistic. Performance in subject areas has rarely risen above satisfactory or requiring improvement in 10 years of inspection.
  • A4e’s self-assessment and quality improvement processes are overly complex. Judgements, especially for learners’ outcomes, are too generous. The process for observing of teaching, learning and assessment is not effective enough to drive up standards."
It's necessary to read the whole report, but one or two things stand out.  Under Outcomes for Learners we're told that A4e had outcomes 25% below those of its subcontractors, who deliver 20% of the provision.  Later, the report says that "Apparently high-performing subcontractors, working with programmes for unemployed people, will not be working with A4e in the near future."  All the grades, for subject areas and for general quality and effectiveness are either 3 (requires improvement) or 4 (inadequate).  And note above that they say that "Performance in subject areas has rarely risen above satisfactory or requiring improvement in 10 years of inspection."  Overall, it's inadequate.
Suppose this was a school which Ofsted was inspecting.  Do you think it would be allowed to stay open?


  1. I thought it might be interesting to you the Ofsted report.I see that contract being taken away from them but no surprise in how that provision has gone downhill.

    It will be interesting to see what else they get picked up on. They always used to aim for a satisfactory until Ofsted changed the goal posts

  2. Sick of the Work Programme7 April 2013 at 08:06

    I don't know what is more disgraceful- that A4e has failed to deliver or that the Government continues to pump millions of pounds of public money into the organisation in spite of its failure. The Ofsted report confirms what many people knew all along- that A4e is not providing effective training to help people get back into work. If A4e were a school, it would be under very close monitoring by the LEA, and if it still failed to improve, it would be taken over and turned into an Academy. If it were a school, it is also very likely that the head of the organisation would be under pressure to resign, as very often happens when a school fails its Ofsted inspection.

  3. I was just looking at the A4E website and came across this

    some strange things in there - it starts off by telling you she's set up her own business and then says
    ............After giving up her job as a lifeguard, Southport resident Claire has launched her first business – offering spray tans to fashion-conscious race-goers.............

    so presumably she wasn't on the WP, but it then mentions the WP
    ...........Claire, 33, came up with the business idea for Sun Kissed Mobile Sun Tanning and Beauty while she was working at JJB Fitness in Southport. She added: “I’d been working in a gym as a lifeguard for five years, and we used to get body-builders who’d come in for a spray tan. So many programmes on TV – TOWIE, Desperate Scousewives, Jersey Shore– all show people have spray tans and it inspired me to think about a change of direction.”

    After taking a course in spray tanning at theNorth West Training Academy in Prescot, Claire found the help she needed to set up her new business through public service provider A4e, which is delivering the Work Programme on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus inSouthport.............

    And then finally there's this
    ...........“Of course, the thought of giving up a salary and going it alone is scary, but I’d recommend it to anyone.........

    so do A4E help employed people become self employed? And if so, why mention the WP?
    (Oh and note the number of times in those extracts words are run together. It affects a large number of pieces on A4E's website, which still isn't out together very well)

    1. I'm rejecting any comments on this, partly because they're not relevant to the main post and partly because they are getting personal towards the woman involved, and that's not fair.
      So please pay attention to the main story!

    2. Perhaps something simillar to Sunday 7 April Secret Millions TV programme might be more sucessful?


Keep it clean, please. No abusive comments will be approved, so don't indulge in insults. If you wish to contact me, post a comment beginning with "not for publication".