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Celebrating our ‘Good’ Ofsted Rating: A Future Committed to Quality

Details: Written by Kelly Worsnop |

Celebrating our ‘Good’ Ofsted Rating: A Future Committed to Quality

The Skills Network Good Ofsted rating

The Skills Network has reason to dig out the party hats once more, following its recent award as a Grade 2 Good Ofsted provider, a rating it has proudly maintained since 2018. Through official validation of The Skills Network's broad range of free online courses and funded Skills Bootcamps, we have stayed true to our accessible learning ambitions and demonstrated excellence in distance-based online learning and innovative training solutions for adult learners. If you live in the UK, you’re likely to have heard of Ofsted at some point or another. But what is Ofsted? What is an Ofsted rating? How often are Ofsted inspections? What does Ofsted look for? This blog will explore the origin and impact of Ofsted as a government organisation and will help the reader understand the importance of Ofsted’s crucial role in ensuring high standards of quality education and care for learners of all ages. The Skills Network’s consistent Grade 2 rating across all inspection areas as a market-leading online learning provider serves as a robust benchmark of confidence for learners and partners for many years to come.

Craig Tupling - Executive Director of Delivery and Quality at The Skills Network

“A provider doesn’t achieve this kind of result overnight. We set up the Ofsted readiness group back in September and people have worked tirelessly, to ensure that we have been ready to show the inspection team what a fantastic job we do for our AEB and Skills Bootcamps learners.

The atmosphere in the Selby Office during the inspection (and in all the online lessons and meetings we have had) has been phenomenal. Staff have worked so hard and shown the commitment and passion they have for supporting our learners to achieve and be successful.

Every member of staff has contributed to this achievement, not just during the inspection week, but in what they do on a day-to-day basis to make The Skills Network such a great learning provider.”

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What is Ofsted?

Ofsted, short for the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, is a non-ministerial government department in the United Kingdom responsible for inspecting and regulating educational institutions and services- including online learning providers like us here at The Skills Network.

Ofsted meaning

Ofsted’s role, in a nutshell, is to ensure that organisations providing education and care services in England (such as schools, online learning providers, nurseries, and childminders) are doing so at the highest standard possible.

To ensure these standards are met, Ofsted carries out three main roles:

1. Registering

2. Inspecting

3. Reporting

When did Ofsted Start?

Inspecting schools and the quality of education delivery in the United Kingdom is a relatively new practice.

Although inspections by local authorities were commonplace as early as the 1830s, it wasn't until 1992 that Ofsted was officially founded.

The Conservative administration led by John Major, recognising the inconsistency in local inspection systems, opted to establish a unified national inspection framework under a revamped formation of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI), known as the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).

According to the Education Act 1992, HMI would oversee the inspection of every publicly funded school nationwide, publishing reports for the benefit of schools, parents, and the government, rather than reporting solely to the Secretary of State.

How does an Ofsted Inspection Work? What does Ofsted look for?

Ofsted maintains a team of over 1,800 qualified inspectors tasked with scrutinising all educational and childcare services registered with Ofsted in England.

These inspections typically occur every three to four years across schools, online learning providers, academies, nurseries, and childminder homes.

The primary goal of an Ofsted inspection is to ensure adherence to specified criteria, assessed across five key areas:

Ofsted inspection areas

1. Overall effectiveness:

This area evaluates the overall performance and effectiveness of the learning provider in achieving its goals and objectives. Inspectors consider factors such as:

  • Academic achievement
  • Learning outcomes
  • Impact of teaching and leadership on student progress.

The assessment provides an overall judgment on the learning provider’s effectiveness in delivering high-quality education or childcare.

2. Leadership and management effectiveness:

This aspect focuses on the leadership team's ability to provide strategic direction, effective management, and strong governance. Inspectors will evaluate

  • Leadership practices
  • Decision-making processes
  • Implementation of policies and procedures

3. Quality of teaching, learning, and assessment:

This area assesses the quality of teaching methods, learning experiences, and assessment practices. Inspectors consider how much teaching

  • Engages and motivates students
  • Promotes active learning
  • Meets individual needs

They also evaluate the effectiveness of assessment methods in measuring student progress and identifying areas for improvement.

4. Personal development:

This aspect examines the learning provider’s efforts to promote students' or children's personal development and well-being. Inspectors assess opportunities for

  • Personal growth
  • Character development
  • Social and emotional learning

They also consider the support provided for student's mental and physical health, as well as their readiness for future challenges and responsibilities.

5. Behaviour and attitudes:

This area focuses on the conduct, behaviour, and attitudes of students or children within the institution. Inspectors assess the overall culture and ethos of the learning provider. They also consider the effectiveness of behaviour management strategies and the impact on creating a safe and supportive learning environment.

The Importance of Safeguarding

In addition to these 5 key assessment areas, a learning provider or childcare provider will be expected to have a robust and thorough understanding of safeguarding.

In the eyes of an Ofsted Inspector, good safeguarding practice stretches far beyond just good policy. All staff are expected to be able to articulate safeguarding and how their specific job role relates to safeguarding.

If a provider receives an ‘inadequate’ score for safeguarding, the provider cannot be awarded a higher score in any other assessment area.

Inspectors gather evidence, make observations, and engage with stakeholders to reach informed judgments and provide feedback for improvement. Once the assessment is complete over 4 days, each education provider will be awarded an Ofsted rating based on their findings.

Ofsted ratings

The Skills Network’s Ofsted Rating: Good!

Now that you know a little more about the 5 key assessment areas for an Ofsted inspection, we are proud to share that we are rated ‘GOOD’ in all 5 areas!

Thanks to our immensely supportive staff and the outstanding achievements of our learners, we are thrilled tp retain our ‘good’ Ofsted rating.

Take a look at just some of the comments we received within our Ofsted inspection report ….

The Skills Network has retained its ‘good’ score for overall effectiveness with Lead Ofsted Inspector, Joanne Stork commenting:

“Most learners (with The Skills Network) are well-motivated to complete their courses. Learners studying independently know how to navigate their online course and make contact with their assessors if they need to. They respond well to the developmental feedback that assessors provide. Learners take pride in their work and most produce work of a high standard.”

The 7-strong Ofsted inspection team were pleased to identify an expert board of governors at The Skills Network, who continue to provide support and maintain effective leadership and management within the company. The report continues:

“Members of the small board of governors are well qualified and experienced to carry out their roles effectively. They have significant experience in working in senior roles in educational funding or are shareholders with extensive experience of the business.”

Quality of teaching was noted as continuing to be of a high standard at The Skills Network, with Tutors being praised for their use of technology to enhance the learner experience:

“Tutors use their expertise and specialist knowledge well when teaching and provide clear explanations when introducing new topics. They use online breakout rooms for learners to develop their understanding by completing activities in small groups. As a result, most learners can recall professional and technical terminology well.”

Across all provisions, from Skills Bootcamps to funded Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications, The Skills Network demonstrated a strong commitment to ensuring a learner’s personal growth and development. The report continued

“Staff ensure that most learners benefit from relevant career information, advice and guidance during their courses. Most learners on level 2 courses progress to positive destinations in line with their original intentions when they began their course. Learners develop the knowledge and skills needed to take up voluntary roles and improve their personal lives. For example, on the level 2 certificate in improving personal exercise health and nutrition, learners improved their diet and lost weight as a result of what they learned. On the level 2 certificate understanding children’s and young people’s mental health, learners gained knowledge to help support their own children with mental health issues.”

Ofsted assessment score

The Skills Network's Grade 2 Good Ofsted rating stands as a testament to our ongoing commitment to quality and excellence. By maintaining this rating since 2018, we've not only celebrated our achievements but also reaffirmed our dedication to accessible learning opportunities and innovative training solutions for adult learners.

Through the lens of Ofsted inspections, we've seen how crucial it is to uphold high standards in education, ensuring learners of all ages receive the quality they deserve.

As we move forward, The Skills Network is steadfast in its dedication to delivering exceptional online learning experiences that empower individuals and contribute to a brighter future.

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